Do you remember playing with building blocks as a kid? It was fun to place one upon the other until, ultimately, they all came crashing to the ground, leading to fits of laughter. Cycles of negative thinking can result in a similar crashing-down effect on your life and business, only it's no laughing matter.
Negative thinking hinders the brain's ability to deal with complex tasks, preventing us from adequately processing information and thinking clearly. As if that's not enough, the chronic stress of negativity affects the body physically, often resulting in illness and emotional dysfunction.
When I speak with entrepreneurs about their negative thought patterns they often defend and protect their pessimism by proclaiming themselves, realists. If you call yourself a realist, fully understand its definition first. A realist is a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly. A realist does not expect constant problems, compounding them by dwelling on how it can only get worse. More likely, they will strategically think through a challenging situation and find a realistic solution.
Do you calmly consider every possible outcome and move fluidly through your challenges, or do you anticipate controversy and problematic situations at every turn? If so, begin to adopt a positive mindset with these five simple steps.
1. Have a mutable plan.
You are an entrepreneur; challenges are inevitable. Viewing these from a negative perspective will halt your progress, whereas, when you acknowledge the unexpected curve balls and move forward despite them, success is yours for the taking.
A strategic plan based on "A leads to B" thinking stumps entrepreneurs when "A" does not turn out as planned. Your plan needs to be like water: fluid and flowing. Be conscious of the difference between planning for the worst-case scenario and anticipating it. Build a smart plan that includes the "what ifs" by studying how larger companies manage controversy, growth, and innovation.
2. Balance your risk-averse fears.
If you are extraordinarily risk averse you likely focus on the catastrophic possibilities, rather than thinking strategically. A high level of risk intolerance is based on fear--mostly fear of the unknown.
Balance your fears with facts and a solid plan. With each phase of your plan ask yourself, "What results do I need to see to move to the next step?" Someone who avoids risk will negate their own success to avoid investing at the next level. If you have your acceptable terms in writing, the next action steps will come from factually based information, rather than fear.
3. Avoid external negativity.
All of us are affected by the lower energies of naysayers and negativity. If you are a negative thinker you have a shorter distance to fall before you reach the outer borders of depression. Take steps to remove or avoid people who have a negative impact on the way you think and feel. It's not always possible if these people are family members, but you can refuse to engage in a downward spiraling conversation. Acknowledge their comments and move on.
Social media and the news can also strongly influence the way we feel and think. Unfollow the people who are combative and unhelpful. Watch the tone in your posts, opting for more upbeat viewpoints. Be aware of how much news you take in daily; there is a fine line between being informed and being psychologically connected to doom and gloom.
4. Avoid saying, "yes but".
The way you say "yes" will greatly impact the outcome of any conversation. Adding the word, "but" after yes opens the door to doubt and negativity. Instead, use the word, "and"-- a qualifier that can turbocharge the power of "yes". If you have doubts, you can still voice them by connecting your thoughts with the word "and", which will prevent a downward spiral in the conversation and lead to a positive ROI on your "yes".
5. Counter negative thoughts with uplifting visualizations.
Internal responses to each of our life-events are embedded in neural pathways and influence our future behavior. Unhealthy responses can become dominant and overtake our actions and emotions if we don't engage in reprogramming efforts. Visualization is one of the more powerful reprogramming techniques, and you don't need an expert to guide you through it.
When you are stuck in a loop of negative thinking, consciously redirect your thoughts to more desirable possibilities. Instead of allowing your "what if" mindset to take a downward path, imagine and visualize more uplifting "what ifs". What if this idea does work? What if they love my idea? What if I become happy and successful? Picture and feel this outcome instead of something much less desirable.
One more thing.
For those of us who are not super-human, it's not likely to reprogram your brain in a day, week, or even a month. Some negativity will hang around for a while, and that's ok. What counts is your continued effort to redirect and reprogram. You will see the effects of it over time, just stick with it.