Whether you're aware of it or not, you're constantly carrying on a conversation with yourself. You have a thought, and you respond to the thought either positively or negatively. Most of us tend to "choose" a negative response because we react personally to the thought. Stepping away to view the thought objectively takes work, for most of us. For example, let's say you're about to go into an important meeting and you're starting to feel nervous. You have an idea you think might help resolve a particular issue that's scheduled for discussion in the meeting, but suddenly your mind is flooded with thoughts of self-doubt. How will you respond? Will you choose a negative response to the thoughts (response A) or be objective and choose a more positive response (response B)?:

Response A: I'd better just keep my mouth shut. My idea's probably not as good as I thought, and I'll just end up looking foolish.

Response B: I'm going to go ahead and present my idea. Even if it's rejected, it shows I'm thinking proactively about the issue and trying to contribute to a solution.

Response A guarantees failure because it means you won't even risk trying. You've reacted and chosen a negative self-talk response. Response B, the positive choice, means that you're willing to risk failure, and trust that either way, you'll be fine. Positive self-talk is supportive and affirming. The fact that you have this capacity for inner dialogue and the ability to direct it, is precisely why the stories you tell yourself matter.

Telling yourself negative "stories" almost inevitably leads to negative results, and while positive spins on your thoughts don't always guarantee success, they definitely point you in the right direction. Here's a little secret successful people have learned: Even more important than what you say, is how you say it. If you can learn how to step back and witness the conversation from a third person perspective, you'll have a much easier time coming up with positive responses to negative thoughts. For example, motivational speaker Brené Brown, who is also a professor at the University of Houston Graduate College, refers to the negative "voices" in her head as her "gremlins". By doing this, she not only distances herself to gain some perspective, she also makes fun of them! Learning how to be objective about the ever-present voices in your head may take some practice at first, but once it becomes a habit, it'll become automatic and you'll find your life -- both personal and business -- changing in positive ways.

Published on: Sep 29, 2016
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