What is your strategy to manage your negative internal dialog? It shows up for everyone. “You should have known better. How will you ever achieve your goals? You should have prepared better. You’re not good enough”. And on and on and on…
To one degree or another, we all hear this voice. It’s sometimes triggered by events and circumstances. It’s usually followed by overwhelming emotions i.e. frustration, stress, uncertainty, disappointment or even fear.
The end result is that it stops us from taking action, it limits our potential and reduces our perceived level of skills, experience and abilities. It’s disempowering.
Sometimes it shows up when we need our motivation and confidence most. So how do we catch these thoughts and take their power away and can we get rid of this negative voice (the gremlin) once and for all?
I recently discussed this challenge with our students on the Diploma in Executive and Life Coaching, when we were talking about human beliefs systems and their impact on what we achieve. Out of this came of a simple strategy that I want to share with you here.
Have you ever noticed that, more often than not, the thought that triggers the negative emotions and demotivation is somewhat unclear? We realise something is off when we already feel off. The thought that leads to our negative emotional response is not always caught in time. If we were to specifically describe what the gremlin told us at the time of a negative event or unexpected circumstances, we would need a few moments to think and pin point exactly what the voice said inside our heads.
This process happens very fast. I would also add that our internal dialogue is not always worth listening too. Attention paid to some of these thoughts can be a major waste of our time. I noticed it in my own life but also in the lives of my coaching clients. Trying to reason with the voice in our heads can feel like insanity sometimes. Why do we even bother? Of course it makes no sense and yes, it is a waste of our precious time and energy.
The students asked me – what should we do with the voice then? We know that it will show up and it’s going to be heard? So how do we manage it?
What I came to realise is that the strategy is very simple.
One word – Refocus
Every time I become aware that I don’t feel great I pause: “Where does it come from?”, “What is it a result of?” “Can I learn anything valuable here?” and immediately I consciously redirect my attention to facts, reality and progress. My attention is on what’s most important for me. Whenever I become aware of my limiting beliefs, I label them as a distraction and refocus on my goals immediately.
The power of this daily practice has been amazing for me. It becomes natural and automatic. The negative thinking no longer gets in the way of effective action. No time spent contemplating if any of these thoughts could be even true. It’s like being on a mission – “Don’t bother me, I’m on duty here! The gremlin loses it’s importance, it’s voice becomes invalid and irrelevant. In the context of my priorities it must be silenced. I have a job to do! You’re either helpful or you’re out. I decide here.” And as I refocus I watch my level of motivation and excitement increase.
Neuroscientists or Quantum Physicists refer to it as “Attention density” defined as “how much attention we pay or the number of observations we make over a specific time. Simply put, the more focused we are, the closer we look, the higher the Attention Density. It is a term to describe our mental focus and concentration.” It’s one of the main principles of self-directed neuroplasticity – our individual power to train our brain to become sharp, focused and at our service. This is achievable at any age and stage in our lives.
So what do you want to spend time concentrating on? The highest possible level of attention density for each of us should be on our personal goals and priorities. Focus is the key to effectiveness, productivity, change. It’s the gateway to your goals. There is no other single, better tip you can receive, to transform the way you do what you do and your daily habits to ensure your future success. Your focus on the way to greatness must be on what works rather than on what’s not. You want to be focused on growth, development and possibilities. Your focus should be on your main priorities and actions you take every day on the way to new levels of success.
So the next time you feel your mind drifting away into negativity simply say to yourself… “and refocus” and watch how your attention is redirected immediately. Have clarity on your priorities and refocus… and refocus… and refocus.
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