I specialize in confidence training and research, which means I have an interesting view into the minds and thoughts of numerous high-level individuals with a significant level of wealth, fame and success--and most struggle with negative self-talk. I've heard it described as a megaphone playing your deepest doubts and fears at the moment you are about to take the greatest leap of your life.
Negative self-talk happens to everyone. It is a fear-based reaction that is designed to protect you from the "threat" of potential failure. I've struggled with it--and I've developed accountability strategies that limit the megaphone in my mind from drowning out my optimism.
Hopefully, they help you too. Here are three ways to eliminate negative self-talk once and for all:
1. Stop confirming your fears .
I gave a talk at a university recently where I discussed the impact of confirmation bias for founders. I discussed how fear is an emotional response to moving forward in unknown territory without knowing the outcome. As a result, we look for data and information that support our fears, and remain paralyzed by the thought of challenging ourselves.
Fear has a natural kinetic reaction to language. Avoid words and phrases which imply doubt and skepticism, so you can challenge yourself to avoid confirming your fears. Phrases such as "what if I can't," "I don't know how," or "I don't think I can" are disabling to your confidence. The most powerful illusion of negative self-talk is what we chose to believe.
2. Focus on the life you desire, not the challenges you're facing.
I believe in proximity and visualization. Most of the professional aspirations that I have focused on, I have achieved. I understand it may seem a bit cliche, but it's the story of my life.
A while back, I wrote an op-ed about Steve Harvey. It launched a thought into my head: I want to appear on his talk show. I began following his journey and other charity work. I visualized myself on his show. A year later, the producers from the show called.
It's not that simple all the time. Here's the secret: If you focus on your challenges, you will continue to feed your own limitations. Your language will begin to reflect your reality, rather than the optimism of the journey ahead. Your language and vision will set the intention for your growth as a leader. Focus on what's ahead.
3. Network with other established founders and leaders .
Find the time to fill your calendar with networking events to meet established founders. You will gain the assurance that you are not alone and gain the confidence to continue moving forward.
You may think you don't need this, or you already have it. You do need this, and you should always seek out more of it.
Avoid events that don't fit your goals. Gaining the sound advice from people who have overcome challenges and achieved a level of measurable success is an effective way to change your relationship with doubt.
Your presence "in the room" has a lasting and powerful impact: It mutes the noise in your mind. Socializing outside of your comfort zone will reprogram your mind to believe that your goals are possible, while providing you with a person to reference who has achieved what you want to do.