Even the most positive people have negative thoughts from time to time
It was Friday, I had lost out on three business opportunities in one day and was feeling the pressure. I could feel my confidence shrinking, my whole body felt different. Why does business have to be so hard? OK, so I started to feel sorry for myself.
It’s funny how things work out: I have been in business for two years, have faced huge challenges and I’ve overcome many difficulties. Somehow I had let my form dip which was uncharacteristic of me. For some reason I was overwhelmed with a feeling of negativity. It seemed that over the course of the day I was given one piece of bad news after another. Several waves of negative thinking had begun to affect me. As I reflected on my situation at lunch time I realised, that what had just happened was that just like swimming in the sea. I had been hit by three big waves in a row. Using this analogy, what would I do if I got hit by three waves in real life? Would I keep swimming or would I take a break and get my breath back? I knew the answer – time out.
So I took time to reflect upon my day to see how I had managed to get overwhelmed. While there was nothing I could do about receiving the bad news about my business, I could decide what to do. I figured that I would work harder, be even more determined and I would succeed… ah yes, then I realised that I needed to eat and step away… So I went for lunch.
Starting from lunchtime and throughout to the end of my day, I received five compliments about my business. There I was invoking positivity to others without realising the impact I was making to people’s lives. I was driving home late the same night and I began to reflect how lucky I was to driving a car in the first place, when there were poor souls walking in the rain. Then I considered as I passed by the hospital how healthy I was. Soon the comments from people who complimented me came flooding back into my consciousness and I realised how lucky I was. For some reasons I started to sing to myself the Nina Simone song, “I’ve got life”.
I got my hair, I got my head
I got my brains, I got my ears
I got my eyes, I got my nose
I got my mouth, I got my smile
I don’t know what’s in store tomorrow, but I do know that I will take time out, breathe, look out for the positives when life’s daily challenges are dragging me down. Here are some tips to break out of a negative thinking pattern:
Recognise it
By recognising that you are having bad thoughts you can stop the vicious circle that can impact upon you. This vicious circle can go from having negative thoughts, to feeling negative emotions (sad, angry, vulnerable), to physical symptoms (physical tension, anxiety, breathing) all the way to changes in your behaviour (snapping at people, heavy drinking or over eating). By becoming aware of this negative pattern you can be empowered to do something.
Where positive focus goes, positive energy flows
Negative thoughts start the negative pattern. Remember you are in control. Negative thoughts thrive on attention, so to change the pattern focus on something else. Give your attention to something that is more helpful for you in that situation. Maybe say to yourself, are these thoughts helping me, are they making life easier for me?
Knowing what’s behind the thoughts
Negative thoughts are like bullies, and bullies are weak underneath. By knowing that, you can address the issue and stand up to the internal bully inside your head. Sometimes these thoughts are trying to protect us in some way, but not a helpful way.
Cut yourself some slack
What would someone you really trusted say? What would my best friend say? If I spoke to my friends the way I talk to myself would I have many friends? When I am struggling I sometimes think what my grandmother would say to me in a situation like this. You may think of someone you know that is really good in these types of situation and consider how would they handle this situation and what would they say to you?
Change the way you look at the situation
Ask yourself will this matter in a few months time? Are you assuming what others will think of you? People can sometimes think they have special powers such as reading other people’s minds and assume people are thinking poorly about them or feel worried about what people are thinking. Ask yourself, “ Is this based on how I am feeling or is it based on facts?”
About William
YellowWood was established by Galway man William Corless to improve the performance of their organisation and optimise individual potential. YellowWood provides clients with a 360° approach through coaching, training and business solutions. A key benefit of Yellowwood’s coaching and training services is the long term value offered to organisations from more effective time management, improved decision making, clarity on strategic direction and improved dealings with staff and stakeholders.
William Corless brings to YellowWood over fifteen years’ experience in general management, technical sales, customer service and marketing. Corless was previously Operations Manager of SpunOut.ie (National Youth Organisation) and a key player in the growth and development of the organisation. Other positions included Operations Manager of Cahergowan Developments (Hotel, Retail and Property) and General Manager Goldfish Electronics (Import and distribution of custom electronic components from Far East) A lifelong learner, he has a broad education in a variety of disciplines: Electronic Engineering, Diploma in Business (Specializing in Supply Chain), Counselling, Coaching, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Training and Psychometrics (Leadership, Team and Career Development).
William is a mentor for the Executive MBA in NUI Galway, Coaching Development and Galway Enterprise Board. William is currently the Director of Operations and Finance for the National Board of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He is also a regular contributor to print and broadcast media and has addressed the National Forum on Resilience in Áras an Uachtaráin.