Breaking free from negative thinking isn’t about techniques. It’s a revolution. You are literally going to walk in a different world. Because you have no idea what negative thinking is costing you. You may be unconsciously sabotaging your own life.
For example, I’d always assumed I couldn’t make a living as a creative writer. I grew up in Brooklyn to an orthodox Jewish family. I was told, “You’re going to write? You’re going to starve.” So, I became a lawyer instead. I slogged through Harvard Law School and onto partnership track of a major firm. It never occurred to me that “you can’t make a living at doing what you love” was a negative thought. To me, it was just being realistic. Everyone, including a school’s career counselor, thought it was common sense to squelch my dearest desires in life. I didn’t know that I had limiting beliefs more than I had limits.
And now, as career/success coach and speaker with four best-selling books out and a worldwide following, I can tell you those “practical” thoughts didn’t lead me to safety. They guided me toward self-repression and meaninglessness. Had I stayed negative, I would have missed the life I’m born to live. I don’t want that happening for you in your marriage, career, health or anywhere.
The Cultural Bias Toward Pessimism
We’re encouraged to doubt our wild, pure strength and, instead, bank on the times when we lose faith, and “come back to earth.” We trust cynicism as though it’s wisdom, the voice of “experience” instead of embitterment. We don’t see anxieties as flights of imagination. We see those as possibilities.
But here’s what’s true: Your dreams can take off at any minute. You can quit drinking this time. You can write a screenplay that Sundance produces. You can meet the love of your life, yes, at your age or with your ridiculous issues. It happens. But only when we feed the light within us.
Do yourself a favor: Stop calling negativity “being realistic.” Call it what it is: being negative. Does a particular thought inhibit your greatest potential? Then it’s poison. If I were working with you as your coach, I’d tell you to enter inspired time. That means, don’t drag in what you think is your past experience. Your past experience may be tainted by negative interpretation. Begin again. Start now. No matter what’s happened, give yourself another chance. Focus on the possibilities that stir you, more than the ones that drain you.
The Power of a Single Thought
It only takes one thought to sour your day. Then your mind can spin out of control. Fortunately, it also only takes one thought to focus you in the right direction. Of course, your negative mood can feel real. But it’s just a habit of thinking, and it can be changed. As a career/success coach, I am in the business of helping people not only get out of negative thinking, but also stay in an inspired mindset. Mindset is the difference between those who succeed in life and those who struggle.
2 Mindset Shifts to Change Negative Thoughts Right Now
- Focus on the truth: When you find yourself in a flurry of anxiety or frustration, use this chill pill of a thought: “I don’t know what anything means.” It’s rarely the event that’s causing you pain. It’s the interpretation of the event. You really don’t know what things mean. Stay in the present moment. The interviewer didn’t call you back? She may be recommending you for another position. She may have food poisoning. Or be out robbing a bank. You don’t know. In fact, you may even be spared from a situation that isn’t the highest use of you.
- Tell a better story: In any situation, choose to listen to your love more than your fear. I recommend a technique I call “Inspired Self Dialogues.” Write down what your fear/inner critic says. Then journal what your loving, Inspired Self might say. To connect to this voice, you might ask: “What would I say to my best friend or child if they felt this fear?” Or you might consider writing from your Higher Spirit’s point of view, or writing to yourself from the mindset of someone who has always been your advocate. You have extraordinary counsel within you. Use it.
For most of us, moving beyond negativity isn’t an overnight shift. It’s not a pill. It’s a practice. It can feel awkward. But I’d rather you go too far in believing in your possibilities than not go far enough. Go ahead and dare to stray from conventional thinking and trust the brilliance within. It’s worth everything to wake up to your own fearless potential, one thought at a time.
Welcome to a whole new world.
This piece is excerpted and adapted from Thriving through Uncertainty: Moving Beyond Fear of the Unknown and Making Change Work for You.