Negative thinking is an addiction many of us don’t even realize we have. Take a moment right now and think about how many negative thoughts have entered your mind since waking up this morning. I guarantee many of us had a variation of at least one of these thoughts within the first three hours of waking up:
“No more milk for my coffee – great.”
“This traffic sucks! I should have left earlier”
“I’m not looking forward to today’s meeting.”
“I don’t even know where to begin. I have so much on my plate.”
“When can I take a vacation?”
“I’m not ready for this presentation. What if I screw up?”
I read a post yesterday that claims we, on average, have 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those 60,000 thoughts 80 per cent are negative. I don’t know if those numbers are completely accurate (I found it difficult to find hard evidence on these stats) but I’m not surprised that a majority of our thoughts, however number of thoughts we have per day, are in fact negative. Are you? Just turn on the TV or read the news and it’s hard not to find information that brings your mind into a dark space. It’s therefore not shocking that many of us feel unworthy of success or feel like imposters or frauds. I’m realizing now that it’s almost safer and more comfortable for us to retreat into our so-called imposter syndrome. After all, if 80 per cent of our thoughts are negative, it’s almost going against the grain to be confident at all times, isn’t it?
Perhaps, when it comes to imposter syndrome, feeling like a fraud in your business might just be the comfort place. The thing is, and I’m sure you know this, being comfortable gets you nowhere. Getting out of your comfort zone gets you places.
A few years ago I shared this Inc.com article with my Facebook friends (thank you, Facebook memories, for bringing this back to the surface). Interestingly, it now doesn’t resonate with me but back then it got me excited. The gist of the article is that negative thinking can actually be positive. It explains that picturing the worst-case scenario can be more helpful than picturing the best-case scenario. Yes, yes I understand that the author wants to share that realistic expectations will keep you from being disappointed if your dreams don’t come true. Back then I was happy to read this because it meant I didn’t have to put as much energy into being positive. I could continue on in my comfortable Lazy Boy chair of pessimism and call my worst-case-scenario thinking a strategy rather than anxiety and something that could hold me back. I should say, the article also mentions meditation and viewing thoughts as neither negative or positive, I can agree with this tip but for the rest of it, I’d like to counter with an “honestly, negative thinking will only bring you down. Don’t make excuses for it.” Don’t get me wrong, faking positivity isn’t good either. People who dance around acting like everything is glorious all the time make me skeptical, of course. But having an optimistic outlook is essential to success. Understanding that, yes, even if you walk into a room, conduct a presentation and people “find you out” or disagree with you, the world is not going to end. Having faith that even if the outcome you hope happens doesn’t happen, things will work out one way or another because you’re optimistic about yourself and your abilities.
Feeling positive about yourself and your abilities takes work. It’s not an overnight click-of-the-button process. It has taken me years to get to the point of feeling confident about my abilities and a part of the process, for me, was being completely honest with myself. Try this exercise that has worked for me:
- Write down everything you think about yourself and your business. Write down everything you’re worried about and everything that you’re worried people will “find out” about you. Maybe you feel as though you don’t have the education or experience or social media following you “think” you should have.
- Take a look at your worries. Do they look different now that you see them in black and white? When thoughts are placed before you, out of your mind, they can look less threatening.
- Write down a positive replacement for your negative statement. So, for example, if you feel you’re not educated enough write down the courses you have taken and your knowledge about what you’re selling. If you feel you’re not as “popular” online as your counterparts write down how long you’ve been in business compared to them. Write down the connections you have been making that have made you feel good.
- Write down affirmations based on the positive replacements. “I’m excellent at making connections.” “I’m incredible for beginning this journey in the first place.” “People are contacting me because they see value in what I have to offer.”
- Look at those affirmations and repeat them (and add to them) every day! Soon, your negative self talk will transform into positive talk and that will transform into motivation to show off who you are and what you can do!
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