HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS WHILE STRIVING TOWARDS GOALS?
Today’s blog post was created by asking the Potentialists community how they deal with negative thoughts while striving towards their goals, as well as my own input. The Potentialists is a community I created to help people share and learn from one another to lead connected and fulfilled lives. Join the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or visit the website.
“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
Last week I participated in arts based facilitation training through PYE Global. The training was filled with singing, theatre games, facilitation skills, and refection. After the last day of training, a few friends of mine and I went to a vocal improv class in the evening.
The instructor began with a few name games to get participants to know one another and some activities involving sounds to warm up our vocal chords. Then we were asked to each sing a tone, with the idea being that people would add on to the tone of the person beside them.
When my turn came to sing, I panicked and in an apologetic manner, told the group that I couldn’t sing and that I was just attending the class for the first time.
This was my negative mind speaking.
The instructor responded by saying that one of the agreements for being in the group was that all of us would support one another and that we are not to put ourselves down.
What she said reminded me of how often our negative mind can get in the way of us achieving our goals. It brought to mind a very useful tactic to cope with the negative mind, which I learned from entrepreneur and ultramarathoner, Andrew Warner, at this past summer’s World Domination Summit.
Andrew shared this approach for coping when the negative mind triggered:
1. Pay attention to the negative mind, and it loses power
In my situation I let my mindfulness slip. My negative mind was telling me that I can’t sing, and I allowed that thought to turn into action as I believed it, embraced the feelings that came with the negative thought, and acted on it by telling the group I couldn’t sing.
Just the act of watching my negative thoughts, helps to prevent them from clouding my mind and allowing their energy to overcome me. Instead, it creates a separation between the thought and myself, as the observer, and allows me to assess the value of the thought before acting on it.
2. Question it
Andrew suggested that we ask our negative mind a) whether what it is telling us is true? and b) if it is true, whether it matters?
After hearing the response from the instructor, I realized that telling myself that I can’t sing wasn’t true. I may not be a professional singer, but I do have the ability to sing and do enjoy it. In the alternative, even if I can’t sing, it doesn’t matter because I was in a vocal improv class and it doesn’t matter if I can’t sing because the class was all about creating sounds, improvising, and connecting with others.
3. Strengthen the Positive Mind
By becoming aware of my negative mind, I immediately snapped out of this way of thinking, and the negative chatter diffused. Instead, I focused on strengthening my Positive Mind and told myself things that were true, useful, and empowering; that I just have to do my best, give new things a try in order to grow, and that everyone in the group is supportive and holding me up.
At the end of the class, I was grateful that the instructor stopped me from thinking that I can’t sing. I am also grateful to Andrew for sharing his method on how to cope with the negative mind. Too many dreams and goals have been left to slip away because we let ourselves believe our negative mind.
I hope that by becoming aware of your negative mind, diffusing it, questioning it, and strengthening your Positive Mind, you’re able to keep moving forward and making progress towards your goals. This little tool to reframe what my negative mind tells me has been invaluable, and I hope it helps you too.