Dear Self: Can’t We Do Something About All Those Negative Thoughts?

Are you ever too tough on yourself? Is there a little voice inside your head that is negative, self-defeating, unrealistic?

I blew that job interview, for sure.

I didn’t handle that presentation at work the way I should have.

I don’t know why I applied for that promotion—I know I won’t get it. 

It’s good to stand back every once in a while and realistically assess yourself. In the best case, a motivating new goal will arise to help you improve yourself. In the worst case, your failures will become bigger than life and send you in a downward spiral of negative thinking. 

Often, in my career as a speaker and trainer, I am asked what is the most important advice I can give for entering or advancing in the work world—or for life in general. That’s easy: Having a positive attitude! I realize that this advice can sound a bit simplistic, or maybe even Pollyannaish, but I’m a firm believer in (and practitioner of) positive thinking. Do your best to view everything as a positive event. Muster all the positive thinking you can and channel it into your life.

Half the battle of finding success in the work world is about being in the right frame a mind. If you think differently, you’ll act differently!

Think again. This time, positively!

So much of our negative thinking is automatic. I know! Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of negative thoughts that seem to pop into my head out of nowhere, especially after one of those long days we’ve all had. I’ve discovered that, over time, unless we do something to stop them, they can develop into a thinking style that becomes a liability.

Your thoughts, emotions, and actions are all connected. If you think you didn’t perform at your best on a project, you might be afraid to tackle the next project. But with practice and discipline, you can become aware of negative self-talk the moment it starts, stop it, and re-direct it.

Successful people have many things in common. Over time, they’ve developed certain habits and little tricks that keep them on track. Positive thinking is one of those habits. When you see someone choosing to think positively instead of negatively, make a mental note. Their approach can work for you, too. If they can do it, so can you.

5 ways to turn negative thinking around. 

Your mindset can make a big difference in your career success. How you think determines how you feel and how you feel determines what you do. Turn it around! When you trade in negative thoughts for positive ones, the sky is the limit.

Here are five simple, doable techniques I’ve found that will make positive thinking second nature:

  1. Pinpoint your thoughts. You have thousands of them each day. Some are helpful, others are not. By recognizing unhelpful thoughts, you can begin to change them by substituting positive-but-realistic ones.
  2. Be unimaginably kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack when things don’t go your way. Treat yourself the way you would treat a dear friend. Even the tone of voice you use on yourself can make a difference. 
  3. Celebrate your strengths. It’s easy to blame yourself for being too passive, too demanding, or too (insert your own negative thought here). But what if you focused on and embraced your many good qualities? 
  4. Find a community of positive thinkers. In a sense, I think this may be the most important point of all: Surround yourself with people who can lift up your spirits, cheer you on, and help you put your disappointments into perspective. Positive thinking IS contagious!

For more useful information that will build your confidence and help you find and enjoy a fulfilling career, check out my newest book Work It! Get In, Get Noticed, Get Promoted.

What specific action will you commit to as you purge negative self-talk from your life? Please share your thoughts!