Do you see failure lurking behind every corner?
If so, there are two issues at play. First: negative self-talk. Second: what psychologists call catastrophizing or thinking that something is far worse that it is.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'You become what you think about all day long'
We catastrophize and are negative self-talkers, ourselves. As a small-business owner, if you are, too, you're less effective. Your creativity drags like molasses in winter and your overall output drops, too.
To help, we spoke with psychologists and other therapists for advice on dealing with these issues. Here, we explore negative self-talk, and offer some advice on how to end it. Later in this series we'll look more at catastrophizing and ruminating.
You are what you think
Changing negative self-talk is important. It affects your work, your relationships and your health. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "You become what you think about all day long."
We knew we think a lot about the negative, and we're not alone, Dr. Kathy Gruver, a health and wellness expert and the author of Conquer Your Stress with Mind-Body Techniques, tells us.
"It's estimated we have about 60,000 thoughts a day and that 50,000 of those are negative," she notes.
Those 50,000 negative thoughts represent an "an unbelievable percentage of our thoughts," Gruver says. "And every negative thought leads to another negative thought, which leads to another negative thought, which we can't help but assume leads to negative results."
Anxiety isn't all bad
Negative thoughts can lead to anxiety, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Anxiety is useful at times, says Dr. Jennifer Yen, a psychiatrist.
When we allow anxiety to take over our mind and our life, it becomes a force of negativity, stagnation and failure
"When we are able to recognize anxiety and stay in control of the situation, it can be a very helpful motivator for success," she continues. "In many cases, our anxiety allows us to reach for our potential, perform under pressure and make positive changes in our life. On the other hand, when we allow anxiety to take over our mind and our life, it becomes a force of negativity, stagnation and failure."
So the trick is to stay in control and shake negative anxiety.
To keep you in control, let's talk boxing for a second. Brad's a long-time fan and he's noticed something that's relevant here: When boxers return to their corners after a round, the first thing many trainers do is tell them to take a deep breath and then take another.
A calmer boxer is a better boxer. He can see opportunities he may have missed otherwise.
Yen suggests a similar approach when you get anxious.
"Take three to five deep breaths, starting with 5 to 7 seconds breathing in through your nose, holding your breath for 3 seconds, and then breathing out through your mouth slowly," she advises. "This allows you to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and forces your mind to pause things. "
5 tricks to beat the negativity
Now here's the good stuff. Once you've calmed yourself down, how can you find out what's stressing you out and how can you fix it? Yen suggests taking these steps.
1. Logically review your thoughts. When we tell ourselves, "My customer seemed unhappy with my proposal, so I'm going to lose this deal and I'm never going to make such a deal again," ask yourself how likely that really is.
Ask yourself how many other people have said no to you before and how many deals you made after the last no
Step back and analyze all the clues. Does the person you're speaking to sound disinterested, irritated or impatient? Does your timetable or pricing meet their needs? Have they said no to you before?
2. Challenge your belief. Next, ask yourself how many other people have said no to you before and how many deals you made after the last no.
3. Consider all possible outcomes. We've all dealt with unhappy buyers. But is your customer truly unhappy with you as a seller? Maybe there's something in a listing that confused her? Maybe it's your pricing, shipping policy, "or maybe they're just dealing with something on their end that is causing disruption to their business functioning," Yen notes.
Or maybe "you've just caught them on a day when they aren't feeling well, when they're putting out fires or when they just had to deal with an unhappy customer of their own," she adds.
4. Find a solution. Now find out if there's something you can change to change the buyer's mind. Ask for feedback or offer to call. And don't be afraid to just accept the loss and move on to another prospective customer.
5. Reset your mind. Finally, take a few moments to clear your head. Step away from your desk, get a cup of coffee or eat something. "When you get back, remind yourself that what happened before is not likely to happen next; whoever you are dealing with next has no idea what happened with the person before," Yen adds.
We're going to try to take Dr. Yen's advice, and hope you will, too, if you see yourself in this article.