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The Resilience Series – Overcoming Negative Thinking

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my series of podcasts that will help you to navigate the issues that you’ll inevitably come up against as a business owner. Today I want to talk about how to overcome negative thinking and how it improves resilience.

Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges, setbacks, and problems, and come back even stronger than before. But it’s not just about overcoming challenges, it’s about learning from them, and seeing them as an opportunity for improvement. You shouldn’t fear challenges and problems, or see them as failures, or weaknesses; you need to experience difficulties to become more resilient.

The question you should ask yourself, though, is do you approach challenges and problems in a way that build resilience? Do you take a balanced view of a situation and look for solutions or do you only see an insurmountable problem and end up feeling paralysed and overwhelmed?

If it’s the latter, you need to work on building your resilience. The good news is that resilience is something that can be learned, and one big step you can take to build resilience is learning how to overcome negative thinking.

So how do you overcome negative thinking? A cycle of negative thinking can be hard to break. You might be stuck thinking about a past project that didn’t go well, or something in the future that may or may not happen, and you might think that by giving a problem so much thought that you’ll come to a solution; you won’t. If negative thoughts are going round and round in your mind, that’s called ruminating, and all that does is keep you inside of your head and prevents you from taking positive action.

What you need to do is break the cycle of negative thoughts by taking some sort of action to remove yourself from them and change your focus. Whether it’s by doing some deep breathing or meditating, or if possible, taking a short walk, even if it’s only 10 minutes. Make this your go-to action every time negative or overwhelming thoughts are threatening to take over.

Another negative thinking habit many people fall in to is imagining that the worst case scenario will happen. While being aware of the possibility of the worst happening enables you to plan ahead and put contingencies in place, believing that the worst will happen just increases stress and impacts on your resilience. What you can do to combat this type of thinking is to challenge it with solid facts. How likely is it that you won’t get this project completed satisfactorily and on time for the client? What are the actions you’ll take if you don’t? Asking questions like this will help you to think in a far more balanced way.

Much like the above scenario, a lot of negative thinking is based on fear. Often, the fear of failure is the culprit. I get it. You’ve struck out on your own in business and you need to make it work. Failure is pretty much the worst thing that could happen, so you do everything you can to avoid it. But failure is not fatal. By trying to avoid failure, you don’t give yourself the chance to rise to challenges, improve, and build your resilience. So how do you get over a fear of failure? By learning how to view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a threat. Think about the things you’ve overcome in your life, and rather than focusing on what could go wrong, dare to imagine, and believe, that you’ll be successful.

When we move away from believing that failure is bad, we can actually learn from it and see benefits. Think of something that didn’t go well in the past, something that you chalked up as a failure. Ask yourself is there anything about that failure that you’re now grateful about, now you have the benefit of hindsight? Did you learn something from it? Did you grow and develop because of it?

Hopefully asking yourself these questions will get you thinking more positively, and realising that every cloud has a silver lining. If you can see something positive in a seemingly bad situation, you’ll feel less stressed and you’ll get over it much more quickly. For example, your business lost out on a contract to a competitor. You can see this as a complete disaster, or you can ask yourself if this is an opportunity to improve or rethink things in any way.

So the message, really, is to think more positively, it is NOT to push negative emotions aside completely. In some circumstances, negative emotions can be helpful. Anger, for instance, can motivate us to take action. The key is to allow negative emotions to push you forward, not paralyse you. If you experience negative emotions, always ask what that emotion is teaching you. What needs to change so you can become more resilient? 

A good place to start is working on building a positive habit. When we see situations from a positive point of view, it increases our ability to deal with stress and we feel happier and more confident. Resilience is closely linked to happiness and wellbeing; resilient people see problems and challenges as temporary setbacks that can be worked through. If you’re prone to negative thinking however, it can be difficult to deal with problems because your mind has already come up with a million reasons why you can’t.

So how can you build resilience through positive thinking? Start by working on developing a positive mindset. It can be as simple as changing how you think about a situation, or even the words you use. For example, instead of saying ‘I can’t do this, it’s impossible!’ say ‘It’s going to be tough but I’ve worked through difficult things before.’ This will change how you feel about something instantly.

Next, look for the good in each day. It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives, but take a moment to think about the good things that happened to you each day, and be grateful for them, no matter how small. Even if you think you’ve had a bad day, thinking about the good things will convince you that it can’t have been that bad after all.

Finally, carve some time out in your day to do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a 10 minute walk, a short meditation, or spending 30 minutes reading your favourite book. It’s impossible not to feel positive and more resilient when you’ve taken some time out for yourself.

Do you need help with business or employee issues?

I help company Directors just like you to feel confident in their team and content with the way their business and their team runs every day. My goal is to create a less frazzled life for you by offering you and your team mentoring and workshops tailored completely to your needs.

Contact me at nicolarichardson@thepeoplementor.co.uk  to find out how I can help you.

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