5 Steps To Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Actions
Do you have a Negative Nancy (NN) or Toxic Tim (TT) that you’re keeping longer than you should? Would you let them go if you weren’t so short staffed? One Negative Nancy or Toxic Tim infiltrates the whole company and it spreads throughout, affecting everyone.
Think of it like this: You attend a meeting that NN was in. When you leave, you approach Positive Polly and share with Positive Polly, “It’s so frustrating dealing with NN. Why is she still here? All we do is constantly listen to her babble and unhappiness.” Before you know it, you become a Negative Nancy, and Positive Polly sees the impact the original NN has made on you and the team. It only takes one person thinking negatively to bring the whole environment, culture, and team down. In order to help you, Positive Polly shares the following.
You have 60,000 thoughts a day and 80% of them are negative. These come in the form or doubt, worry and stress and are linked to poor attitudes, declining engagement, and poor performance. Most people think they are positive and optimistic, yet negativity shows and they don’t recognize it. In fact, 95% of your thoughts are repetitive. So, all of the negative thoughts keep getting repeated, impacting how you show up, speak out, lead, and live.
Your thoughts are the fundamental foundation of everything you do and everything you don’t do, yet often times you don’t think about them. When was the last time you thought about what you thought about? If you’re like most people you think the same way you’ve always thoughts, resulting in the same behaviors, actions, and results. If you want to change relationships, communication, interactions, your confidence, you must first change how you think. Once you change that, then everything else will change as well.
Here is a five-step process to help you change your thoughts to invoke different actions, behaviors and results and develop a positive work environment.
ONE: Identify – Recognize Your Thoughts. There’s an exercise to help you very specifically identify your negative thoughts. It’s called the Stand up/Sit down exercise. This is a great exercise to do as a team. Have someone read a set of statements. For every statement you agree with, you will move your body. Everyone starts in a stand-up position. For example, if the first statement is “If you’re ever thought you’re not smart enough,” and you agree, you’ll sit down. If you disagree with the statement, you’ll remain as you were. If the next statement is, “If you’ve ever thought you don’t have enough time,” and you agree, you’ll move (either stand up or sit down depending on what you did for the first statement). This repeats for every statement read (there should be about 15 statements read). During this activity, you can expect to hear laughter evoke from your group, as they are moving for most of them, which shows that negative thinking arises without you consciously knowing. And you have a lot more of them than you believe.
TWO: Write It. Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, it’s important to write them down. Something happens in your brain when you write things down. They tend to become real, and you remember them more. So, when you write down your negative thoughts, you become more mindful when they arise. Follow the rest of the process with just one of your negative thoughts. Once you have mastered one, work on another (you don’t want to overwhelm you or burn you out on doing too many at once).
THREE: Triggers – What are your triggers for your negative thinking? Triggers can be a place, situation, mood, experience, or thing. If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone and walked away saying to yourself, “Why do I even bother,” then you also know a trigger can be a person too. And many times, it is a person. Write down all of your triggers. When you’re aware of your triggers, you can be on the lookout for them. When they come up, as they will, you are armed to not allow the negative thoughts to follow.
FOUR: Reframe – List all the ways to reframe the negative thought. There are two ways to do this reframing. First, you can say the opposite of the negative statement. Instead of staying I’m not a good enough leader, you can say, “I’m an awesome leader.” The second way is to ask questions. For instance, what courses do I need to take to become a better leader, what leadership book should I read to improve my leadership skills or who can mentor me into being a better leader. Your brain is constantly talking to. If you say you’re not a good enough leader, your brain will validate it with all the ways that it’s true. If you say you’re an awesome leader, your brain will validate it with all the ways that it’s true. So, listening to the positive part of your brain will make all the difference in your work and life.
FIVEl Action – Once you have your reframing options, pick one to take action on. Nothing changes until you take action on it. Small action makes a huge difference. If you want to know the best leadership book to read, you may initially think you do not know any, however, your brain can solve that dilemma. It’ll reply with ideas to look up leadership books on Google, put a post on Facebook asking your friends for their recommendations or look up Amazon book reviews. Then it’s time to decide which action you will take (which book to order and order it). Small consistent action is key to eradicating negative thinking.
The more you work through this process the more positive thoughts you have. You’ll soon recognize negative thoughts in others and can help them master their own mindset. You’ll become the Positive Polly and help develop a positive work environment that no one wants to leave.
About the Author:
Jessica Rector, MBA, author of the #1 best-selling “Blaze Your Brain to Extinguish Burnout” and nine other books, helps organizations, leaders, and teams Say Yes to eradicate burnout and enhance mental health. As a burnout trailblazer, her research is used in her consulting and speaking and often shared on her podcast, “The Say Yes Experience.” For how Jessica can help your organization and team, go to www.jessicarector.com