By Darius Harris, Stride Career Prep Success Coach
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one will ever give me a chance.”
“I’ll never find an internship.”
Do these sound like statements you have made lately? No matter what negative things come out of your mouth, they first occur in your mind before you say them. I didn’t realize just how much of a challenge it is to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day until about two days ago. I woke up in a foul mood. Although I had nothing to complain or be upset about, I felt irritated. It seemed that every thought that came to my mind was negative. My food wasn’t good enough, people were driving too slow in traffic, I dreaded cutting the grass. My day was going horribly because I had made up in my mind that it would be a bad day. It has been proven that self-defeating thoughts can have physical and mental effects on the body and brain that keep you from being productive. Your thoughts can affect every aspect of your life and cause you to perform poorly in activities you need to achieve in.
We must actively monitor our thoughts, so things don’t spiral out of control.
A quote that has quickly become one of my favorites is:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” -- Lao Tzu
Our brains are “primed” to look for the things we expect. Our repeated thoughts and emotions form our beliefs, whether positive or negative. When you learn about the brain and the creative subconscious, you understand that its job is to ensure that our actions align with our beliefs. Therefore, the brain filters out evidence that doesn’t align with beliefs, so “what we think about grows."
That’s why it’s so important to watch our thoughts and what we focus on. When you focus on negative self-talk, you can push yourself into what’s called the “red zone.” Some of the red zone characteristics are your stress hormones spike, mental resources are drained, the immune system becomes depleted, and optimism disappears. Remember, when you are in this place, it hinders you from moving to action due to your beliefs and emotions related to your goals.
Tips To Help Avoid Negative Self-Talk
Carefully Monitor Your Thoughts
To offer resistance against the negative ideas that try to invade your mind, you must take the time to pay attention to your thoughts. The definition of watch is to look at or observe attentively, typically over a period of time. Watch is a verb and, thus, infers action. When you have negative self-talk come into your mind, offer an immediate rebuttal with a positive spin.
For example, you can trade“I will never get a job,” with “It may take some time, but I will get a job.”
Recite Positive Affirmations
The key to a successful day starts in your mind. In the quote above, we see how things can spiral out of control if you don’t actively monitor your thoughts. Saying you will have a good day every morning isn’t enough. You must actively monitor your thoughts throughout the day as well. Think of some things that you are thankful for and take the time to recite them every morning. If possible, write a list of things you appreciate. If the only thing you have to complain about is not getting enough sleep or being held up in traffic, I’d say you are doing pretty well compared to things happening in the world. You would be surprised by the impact that reciting positive affirmations can have on your thoughts and your body.
Be Mindful/Strategic About What You Put in Your Mind
My son sings a song called Input Output in the church choir. The words to the song are as follows: input output what goes in is what comes out, input output your mind is a computer whose input output, daily you must choose. What you put into your mind is what will come out. So, what are you putting into your mind? What kinds of books, television shows, and conversations are you having? Are your discussions negative and unproductive? Do you choose to focus on things that are wrong and skim over the many things that are right? More importantly, have your thoughts turned into negative actions?
In conclusion, fill your mind with positive thoughts, uplifting conversations, and associate with people who have a positive outlook. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a bad situation or not able to perform your best when you need to.
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