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Give Negative Thoughts a Positive Ending
As important as the present moment might be, most of our thoughts are about yesterday and tomorrow.
Of the roughly 6,000 thoughts leaders have each day, most are highly repetitive and focused on the past or the future. We think and rethink about much of the same issues and ideas, wondering why things happened or what will likely happen in the future.
Not surprisingly, our most powerful thoughts are rarely neutral. They generate strong feelings, emotions, and sentiments. Even less surprising, research confirms unhappy people think about and remember more negative thoughts, while happy people focus on and remember more positive thoughts.
What isn’t as obvious is the fact that once people think negatively, they often stay stuck there, at least for a short period of time.
Almost everyone has experienced the power of repetitive negative thoughts. Once negative thoughts enter the mind, they propagate even more gloomy thoughts, like seeds blown in the wind. The downward spiral of pessimistic thinking can be exceedingly hard to escape. Performance and happiness suffer as a result.
It is nearly impossible to perform at a high level or to maintain a favorable frame of mind when negative thoughts push their way into the inner conversation. Staying in a funk, even for a short time, distracts the mind from execution and thereby undermines performance. Knowing how to break this pattern is an essential skill for every leader and performer.
Interrupting a negative thought pattern requires preparation. Leaders and performers must arm themselves with a positive memory, image, or song that can be applied anytime they choose.
In addition to being especially uplifting, this memory must be comprised of many details, words, or distinct impressions. This precision is critical. It allows the leader to interrupt the negative pattern by replacing it with a positive one by giving the memory or image many facets or details to occupy the mind.
At the moment a performer recognizes they are in the grip of a negative thought pattern, they must turn to this memory, song, or image and focus on it exclusively instead. Visualizing the details and features of this memory replaces the negative with a new pattern, one filled with positivity and affirming emotion.
By purposely shifting one’s thoughts to this prearranged memory and giving this image sharp relief, full of details, negative thoughts disappear, and a new feeling of confidence and well-being emerges.
This takes practice but is a lifesaver when the time comes. The key is to prepare now by selecting a positive memory, song, or image before it is needed. Playing and replaying this memory in your head before the real test gives you the best chance for eventual success.
Top performance depends on interrupting negative thoughts. Great performers and leaders are always ready with a positive ending.