All entrepreneurs spend a lot of of time inside our own mind, as entrepreneurs we are often walking a path that most would not tread. This can be filled with thoughts such as; worrying about the future, replaying events in the past, focusing things that have not worked or have left a sense of dissatisfaction. Such negative thinking can creep in and be highly destructive to mood, over all well-being and result in procrastination (the killer of all business) because you are second guessing yourself.
Negative thinking is very common and something that affects everyone without discrimination and can often leave you feeling on edge', anxious, depressed. etc. The main thing is learning to identify such thinking and having ‘tools' at your disposal to deal with it so this thinking does not hold you or your business back.
There is many ways you can start to get into the practice of identifying this thinking and replacing it with thought patterns that are constructive and positive. Like any ‘inner' or ‘outer' work it takes time and consistency to develop new habits and ways of thinking. However, the effort is always 100% worth it when you see the huge impact it has in your business, relationships and over all day to day well-being and happiness.
Here are 10 Steps that you can apply and explore to help you bust though that thought barrier of negativity;
1. Recognise That Thoughts Are Just Thoughts and Many Are Not Reality.
Oftentimes we assume that just because we think it and the thoughts are persistent that it is reality. We often assume one thought can last a long time however this really ins't true. Thoughts are very transient and if anyone has meditated you start to become aware of thoughts. Thoughts remain in the mind if you hold on to it. In this way one thought can lead to a myriad of other thoughts that can often become convincing us of something that isn't really true, however it may ‘FEEL' like reality because you have attached emotionally to the thought.
. If you can recognise them, you can learn to challenge them.
Here are four common patterns of thought that can result in distortions:
- Black and white thinking. Seeing the world as one way or the other with no balance thought to see what lies in between.
- Personalising. Making everything about you, someone's reaction or behavior being because you did something or said something however if you were not so attached to that thought you may observe that it could be simple due to the other party having a ‘tough' day.
- Filter thinking. Choosing to see only the negative side of a situation.
- WHAT IF ? Worst case senario thinking.. Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.
2. Challenge negative thoughts.
Start to observe your thoughts without self-deprecation. Check in to see if the negative thoughts are real or a perception of what could happen (in which case the opposite positive is just as likely to happen so look at letting go). It can be of huge benefit to see your self advising someone else who had these thoughts, how would you advise them and then see that this is how you should proceed. It is often easy to see how others negative thoughts are not reality because you are able to step back and observe. Many find this difficult for themselves to start with because they ‘cannot see the wood for the trees' take a step back and observe.
Learn from things that have not gone to plan, look objectively and see why it came to pass, learn from it and let it go. Past events can only serve to teach you how to not do that situation again. However, many filter the future through the past events and this causes fear and anguish. Once you have looked at something that has come to pass, learn from it then let it go! Once it has happened it cannot be undone all that you can do it be in the moment and apply the learning and create something different now so you do not repeat the same thing again.
3. Take a break from negative thoughts.
It is possible to learn how to separate from negative thoughts. Thoughts are transient and with time you can start to see how you can simply let go of negative thoughts. To start with allow yourself to be in that thought and feeling for a short time perhaps 5 minutes then do something completely different to remove you from that thought. Take a break, go for a walk, change task you are focusing on.
This allows your brain to find other more productive thoughts to focus on, and you start seeing that you can be in the driving seat when it comes to the thoughts you allow your focus to rest upon. Great Book that delves into this is ‘Do Nothing' by Damien Smyth
4. Release judgment – Put down the big stick you have been hitting yourself over the head with.
It is human nature to judge this is something that we do constantly, oftentimes without even realising it. For many this judgment can be in the form of hard and constant self-deprecating self-judgment. It may seem impossible to begin with. It may not be easy however, it is possible.
Stop the constant comparison, it is useful as an entrepreneur to see the traits and habits of other successful entrepreneurs and aspire to be/do/or have those traits. You can even begin to incorporate this into your life. It is then important to not fall into comparison where you are self-judging when you are not exactly the same or falling short this negative comparison will be detrimental and should be avoided.
If you do not succeed then assess what has not worked and fix it without internally beating yourself with a self judgment stick that only serves to decrease you sense of self work and eats away at your confidence. Leading to that spiral of negative thinking that will cripple your business as well as the rest of your life.
Another helpful technique is to “positive judge.” When you notice you are negatively judging a person, yourself, or a situation, look for a positive quality, too.
A great tool I have found for all levels of judgment is ‘The work' of Byron Katie. It is simple however profound and highly useful.
5. Connecting with gratitude .
It is often said that like attracts like and this is often mentioned in many of the Law of Attraction films and books. However, it has also been shown in various research studies that a sense of gratitude can have a big impact on your levels of positivity, inner well-being, and happiness.
Like the ‘Glad game' in book Pollyanna even in challenging times it is possible to find things (even small things) that you are grateful (glad) for. Simply following this process opens up the mind to search and question reality for evidence of other things to be grateful for, making this a practice highly valuable.
Keeping a gratitude journal and writing a few things in it every day is one easy and effective way to do this.
Note: Stress and negative thinking induces the body to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that effectively shut down higher brain functioning as part of the ‘fight and flight' response. Where ‘tunnel' vision is highly important as you are focusing from escaping or fighting a potential threat. However, in modern day living and definitely in business this response is redundant. This is why a positive mindset and thinking is important as it opens up the higher brain functions and the ability to get out of tunnel vision.
6. Focus on your strengths.
It is very important to know areas where you have limitations in order to develop and expand these ares. This can be highly constructive, providing that you do not dwell on the negative and overlook the positive. You also need to be aware and focus on your strengths.
All entrepreneurs get comfortable with failure as they do not see failure as a negative. Rather part of the necessary learning to take you to the ultimate success in your goals and business achievements. Many people dwell on mistakes, rather than looking at what you can learn then ‘letting go' of the past.
If you find that you have recurring patterns of thought around things you are not happy with then make note of them and use this as fuel to take positive action to change this.
7. Coaches, mentors and other professional support
If you negative thinking is interfering with your day to day life and you are finding it difficult to make headway. It does not mean that you need to resign yourself to where you are. This is a place for working with professionals that specialise in the areas you are finding difficult in order to grow and develop new positive habits.
Always look for people who have achieved the type of results that you are looking for and only take guidance and advice from people that have achieved success and are qualified to assist you. All entrepreneurs and successful people know that working with the right mentors and coaches is essential for their growth and success.
Everyone has had their own journey with negative thinking and fear the difference is the elite earners and most successful do not let this stop them. They identify it, work on steps to change it or release it and they do not expect to work on everything alone.
8. Identify areas for positive change.
This is vital for pushing through the ‘perceived' barrier of negative thinking. Find areas that you are able to create positive change. This generates a more assertive look at your situations whether business or day to day life. It directs a positive and empowering focus and shifts from a place of negativity and procrastination to action and positivity.
Negative thoughts are generally connected to events/things in your life (relationship, business/work situations, physical health etc). Identify the areas that can be improved and start with one thing at a time, start making positive change.
9. Re-frame negative thoughts as they occur.
Positive self- talk is really important, listening to that ‘inner voice' and identify the type of language you are using internally. To start improving your self-talk;
- Do not allow a negative thought to go by without re-framing it as something positive. This may seem awkward and a little forced at first. Over time it will become easier and you will begin to develop a more positive outlook. For ideas on how to turn things around then look at ‘The Work' Byron Katie and NLP experts such as Tony Robbins.
10. Use positive afformations daily.
Many people are familiar with affirmations which are positive statements that you say on a daily basis to start creating change in your thinking, beliefs and actions. However, for many saying a statement such as ‘I am a money magnet', ‘ I am creating new business opportunities on a daily basis', simply are not a reality. And each time they recite the affirmation it is countered by a strong force of disbelief. It may simply feel like a BIG FAT LIE.
Affirmations do work for some people however, some people really struggle with this. Afformations by Noah St John is a process of asking yourself empowering questions. The mind is geared up (hardwired) to answer questions. By asking yourself empowering questions you start stimulating the mind to search for the answers.
It also prompts you to look at the dis-empowering you may be asking yourself on a daily basis and this can only serve you to then re-frame these into empowering questions;
“Why am I always struggling to pay my bills?” = “Why do I always have more than enough money to pay my bills?”
“Why am I struggling to find new clients?” = “Why is it so easy to find new clients on a daily basis? or Why do I get so many new client requests on a daily basis with out any effort?”
Change your negative thinking into positive thinking and you will see a huge impact on your business as well as your personal life. If you want to take things to a bigger level then this is essential.
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