'Self-talk' Your Way Out of Negativity

Taking time to assess your attitude can lead to positive thinking

You’ve seen it, I know you have. I’m referring to the bad behaviour and negative attitude some employees exhibit in the workplace. In fact, you may have engaged in this behaviour yourself.

Examples include whining and pouting if you don’t get your own way and viewing everything in the work world from a "woe is me" or glass-half-full attitude. I’m sure you’ve met an employee who can’t find anything right about their job or their employer, yet they still come to work every day, poisoning the atmosphere.

This type of negative attitude truly is a poison to any workplace. It drags people down and is divisive in terms of ruining any teamwork efforts and destroying employee morale.

As you might expect, people are drained by the time they complete their day, and so overall productivity and profitability of the employer is down as well.

Gossip, group cliques, absenteeism, employee theft, blaming, shaming, high turnover, sabotaging supervisors and sometimes outright sabotage can result. Who in their right mind would want to work in an environment like this?

While it is definitely a manager’s responsibility to nip these negative personal attitudes and resulting poor behaviours "in the bud," so to speak, it is even more so each individual’s responsibility.

That’s because failure to do so can significantly impact one’s career.

No one wants to fail in their career — or in life, for that matter — and so the key is to take personal responsibility to not only understand your negative attitude but also to address any negativity you are feeling.

This type of self-assessment isn’t hard to do, yet few people actually do it. However, it is essentially a matter of taking time to stop and listen to yourself and identify what you are saying.

That’s right: we all talk to ourselves, even though we are often not aware of it. And if your thought or "inner voice" is saying negative things, then these negative thoughts will lead to negative feelings which in turn lead to negative responses and negative behaviours.

In fact, once you assess what you are saying to yourself, you might be in for quite a surprise.

For example, one of the most common "self-talk" thoughts is to pick out one single thing you see as wrong about a situation and then focus on this negative trait to the exclusion of anything else. This negative, "all or nothing" thinking leads to feeling bad.

Another common behaviour is "labelling" someone or something as negative. In my view, labelling is a really unfortunate behaviour because the label seems to stick and is very difficult to change.

In other words, if you label someone as a "loser," it will be very difficult to see this person in any other light. That, in turn, will impact the ability to establish a positive relationship with them.

Your self-talk thoughts are essentially the emotional triggers that influence your behaviour.

By identifying and monitoring the negative thoughts that have become a pattern, you can change your attitude and change your life.

However, this is not as easy as it appears. Adopt some of the following tips and begin to rebuild a positive self-talk voice.

Keep a journal

Jot down notes any time you feel bad about a situation. Take notice of the emotional trigger that spurred on a behaviour and/or negative thought. Identify your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Eventually, you’ll see a pattern that will then point you in the right direction to taking on a more positive attitude.

Create a positives list

Each and every day, identify the number of positive things that have happened. You’ll be surprised. Just reading these will help to drive positive thoughts, and, at the same time, you’ll realize the world isn’t as cruel as you thought.

Look at alternatives

Every time you feel a negative thought, take time to review and identify your emotional trigger.

Next, deliberately look at other alternatives and try to see other aspects of the situation. Jot them down, think about them and look for facts that could support the alternative feelings.

Develop a support network

It is always good to have someone to discuss issues and feelings with, especially to ask how they perceive a situation. Sometimes when we get stuck in a rut, it is hard to see another point of view.

Listen to the views of others, and use these to reassess your opinions.

Read and educate

There are plenty of easy-to-read books on multiple topics such as overcoming your anger, dealing with depression, overcoming negativity or recapturing personal self-esteem that allow you to understand your emotions better and develop tried and true strategies to become a better balanced person. Be sure to use the exercises as a tool for self-analysis.

Choose words wisely

Every day, we make sense of our world by using words to describe events.

These words become emotional triggers that in turn influence our thoughts and states of mind. If the words used are negative, then your thoughts will be negative.

Are you using highly intense words that lead to a negative mental attitude? Can you change your words to less intense ones? For example, can you change the phrase "I hate" to "I don’t like" or even, "I am uncomfortable with"?

When doing so, does the word help change your attitude? Try it; you’ll be surprised at how it helps you to look at things with a different perspective.

Create positive affirmations

Many people scoff at this suggestion, but I’ve personally encountered people who have carried around a positive affirmation for years.

As soon as they begin to think negatively, they reread their favourite affirmation and are able to quickly readjust their feelings. Believe me, it works.

Manage your stress

Negative thinking and emotions take more of your personal energy than you realize.

Before you know it, you are really feeling down and depressed. Before you know it, you aren’t sleeping well and are in constant self-punishment mode.

Get back on a positive track by identifying your unhealthy habits and reducing your stress. Find a hobby. Get into an exercise mode.

Take the gift of time

There’s a saying that time heals all wounds. However, there is no way around it: time is also needed to change one’s behaviour and negative thinking. Be kind to yourself, be conscious of your goal every day, go slow and allow time for change.

A negative attitude impacts everyone at work and may lead to significant personal issues that can eventually result in career disaster.

So, if you find yourself job seeking every couple of years because the workplace hasn’t been the right fit, then it’s time to engage in self-examination.

More than likely, your own negative attitude is to blame.

Keep in mind your boss, your colleagues or even your parents cannot change your negative attitude… it is up to you.

Thankfully, there are many strategies available to help capture a positive life view. So put blaming and excuses aside and get going.

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