Many psychologists have long argued over the impact of negative thoughts. All agree they have a powerful effect on you. They affect your attitude, your physiology, and your motivation. Your negative thoughts actually control your behavior. They can make you sweat, make a messy presentation or forget to make that important phone call.
According to psychological researchers, up to 80% of our thoughts during the day are negative; things like, I’m always late…this report will never be finished on time…The MD will be disappointed in me…I shouldn’t have said that …. They don’t like me… and so on.
Interestingly, our bodies react to our thoughts. Every cell in your body is affected by every thought you have. If it’s negative, it weakens you, making you more prone to behaviours that can induce physical ailments.
However, positive thoughts affect your body in a positive way, making you more relaxed, centered and alert. And there’s only one person responsible for your thoughts and what you say to yourself. Yes, you’re 100% responsible.
So, when you find yourself being negative, stop and think:
What’s the positive intention behind this? What am I trying to achieve with this negativity? Am I just being negatively focused, or is there a positive meaning I can take from it?
You can actually use your negativity to drive you forward to change things.
For example, if you are thinking “I can’t do this project”, what meaning could you attach to that thought? It could mean you need to ask for more resources. It could mean you have to do more research. Or it could mean you haven’t approached the project in the right state of mind.
Whatever the reason, step back and realise what the message is that this thought is giving you. Albert Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” We may need to change our thought patterns to get the answers.
Remember the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy? If you say you can’t do something, your brain will do its utmost to prove you right. A better way of thinking when you are facing negativity is “OK, this is the situation. What has to change for it to look different? What’s not perfect, yet? What can I control that will drive this forward?”
From this improved mindset, you are in a stronger position to face the situation and come up with ideas. Good ideas will not flourish in a negative mind. They have to be nurtured and developed in a soil of possibility.
If you become more emotionally intelligent, you find opportunities where there were obstacles. So create a sign for yourself where, when you are thinking negatively, you recognise the fact, notice the emotion you are feeling, ask whether this is how you really want to feel, and adapt your thinking to look at possibilities rather than reasons why it can’t be done.
How you talk to yourself will have a profound effect on your mood, demeanour and behaviour. Being aware of when you’re negative can be the first step in creating the mind-set that will generate better results.
Originally published: 10 May, 2010
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