Podcast Episode 11: How to stop negative thinking

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Being caught in negative thinking sucks the life out of you and your results. Continued negative thinking can cause extreme stress and anxiety. In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • Your thoughts are not facts
  • How to change your thoughts so you create the results you want in your life
  • Why I encourage being ridiculous with your thinking

⁣When negative thinking pops up ask yourself if you thought it true? Can you prove it? Separate thoughts from facts. 

Read the Transcript
Hey everyone, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining me today. Love it. 

If you’ve been listening you are probably catching on that a lot of what I teach is that your thoughts create your results. This is true for any area of your life but since I focus on career based growth, today I want to talk about how you stop negative thoughts and create new thoughts so you get the results you want in your career. 

This will help your career and frankly any area of your life. 

I first started to experiment with thoughtwork about 20 years ago. I enjoyed most aspects of my job in agency land but every once and and a while I would notice that the littlest thing would knock me over. 

I call it the disease of broken shoelaces. 

I could handle the big problems. The client-based crisis. The product recall that required the multi-million dollar marketing and media plans to be rethought and renegotiated in 48 hours. 

Leadership getting arrested. And incarcerated. 

Got a crisis? I’m your girl. I’m calm and steady. I can focus easily. 

I thrive when everyone sees challenges and problems. 

I go into innovation and solutions-thinking mode. 

But the disease of broken shoelaces. The little things would throw me into negative thinking. The printer out of toner. A colleague not showing up for work. An error in the pivot table. The everyday benign challenges. 

This is why it’s called work, and not a hobby. 

Then I would go global in my negative thinking. One crack in my workday thinking would lead me to then start obsessing over my after work plans, I am never going to get a raise, it’s going to be hard to get the exact share house we want this summer so we better get on it now, and that cute guy I recently met likely won’t call. I would create a toxic soup of negative thoughts. 

Hey….pop by my desk for a good time with a heat seeking missile of negative thinking. 

Those were the things that would lead me into negative thinking. Your negative thinking may not come from simple frustrations or broken shoelaces. But know that there is nothing wrong with you if you think negatively. Your brain is trying to protect you. Being alert or precautionary and making a plan B is helpful. But when we let these thoughts take over or it becomes our default way of being that it’s the result of your toddler brain – it’s just an unmanaged mind.  

My career took off when I really started to get curious and question my negative thoughts. Seriously, this was the thing that changed everything. 

Examining my thinking increased my success exponentially. 

It wasn’t reading the trades, the latest thought leadership papers or networking like a pro that changed my career path.
Sure those tactics can help. But when I made a regular practice of looking at my thoughts and then giving myself some space between my thoughts and my actions, everything began to change. 

Your thoughts are the biggest thing that we have control over and learning how to manage them will create a larger impact on your results more than anything else in your life.  

When  you learn the difference, I mean really see the difference between thoughts and facts and you are able to begin to see your thinking in a fresh way. The space between your thoughts and your actions helps you get leverage over your thoughts. Once you begin to find the pause between thoughts and actions…and make a decision to believe different thoughts that serve your and your goals…that is the thing that will give you the most impact, the fastest results…more than anything else you try. 

Recently, a new client told me that she wants to get promoted and take on more responsibility at work. When I asked her why she wanted more responsibility she said because then she’d be respected and then she would feel better about herself. 

As a career coach, I am always curious about your motivations. And I also want to understand your thinking and your mindset. For this woman, the promotion wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t about the prestige of the title, or the feeling of personal achievement. 

It was about respect. And feeling better. 

Hmm. Tell me more. 

She said that she ‘always makes bad decisions’ and that ‘everything bad always happens to me’. She has the toughest boss and works on the most challenging project. 

She said that she rarely speaks up in meetings nowadays because she doesn’t want to say the wrong thing or ask a dumb question. 

She is still kicking her own butt for a minor typo she made last year and brings it up regularly as evidence for why she needs to stay vigilant not make another mistake. 

She says she has to work harder than everyone else just to get the same acknowledgement because she only went to an average university. She’s older than her peers and is “lucky” that someone with her credentials got a job at a top company. 

And she said she thinks she just needs to get a promotion, and be in a different position so everything will be better. 

There’s a lot to unpack here and I have a ton of compassion for her mindset. 

It’s not easy when you are “in it” and you think that an outside circumstance, like a promotion, a new boss, a different project will make everything ok. It wont. Because wherever you go, there you are. 

Look, I don’t know whether she’s in a sucky situation or not. The reality is that she believes she is, so she is coming to her responsibilities, her output, and her interactions with others from a position of extreme stress and anxiety. 

How good would your decision making skills be if you were always under extreme stress and had anxiety? 

Do you think you’d be a candidate for promotion if you were constantly  judging yourself, your age, and your schooling throughout the day? Reminding yourself that you don’t measure up? What results do you think you’d create? 

I know at this point it feels impossible for her to change her thinking and she so desperately wants too. The good news is she can change her thinking more easily than she can change her role, her boss, or her co-workers. 

People will often ask me how to change their thoughts. Because we’ve never really been taught how to do it. Can you imagine if we taught children how to change their thinking? 

People always want to know how to stop thinking the obsessive, negative thoughts that they keep chewing on. The thoughts they go to sleep thinking and pick up again upon awakening. 

Sometimes they ask me to give them new thoughts. They actually say, ‘I need you to give me a new thought’. 

I get it. I’ve been there. Just tell me what to think so I can feel better. Because I am tired of feeling this way. But this work isn’t’ the 10 steps to positive thinking. That doesn’t work. 

I can give you a positive thought. I can ask you to repeat the thought. Write out the thought.  Use it as a mantra. 

Me telling you what to think doesn’t work. Because 1) it’s my thought not yours and 2) you don’t believe the thought. 

Side note, that’s advice giving, and coaching isn’t about advice, it’s about showing you your mind and teaching you how to manage your mind so you get the results you want in your career. And life.

We need to get you thinking new thoughts that are believable for you. Now. In this moment.  

You need new beliefs. 

And a belief is just a thought that you keep on thinking. It’s a thought that feels relatable. Thoughts that are relatable feel possible. And if something is possible, your brain will start to look for evidence of how it’s possible. 

Just like my client always looking for evidence to prove that she is not good enough, you can just as equally find evidence to prove that you are good enough.  

Eventually you start interpreting the world through the new thought or the new belief, which is what we all do on default anyway. 

What’s really neat about the study of beliefs and psychology is that we learn that our thoughts aren’t facts.

Something can be true for you. But that doesn’t make it a fact. It’s just the lens, and the feeling through which we are viewing a situation. It’s like looking in the mirror. You get what you are looking for. 

When I learn from experts, my interpretation of the world isn’t always inaccurate because I filter out things that don’t support my thoughts. 

Our nature is to only include evidence that supports what we already believe. It’s like a plot twist from a book or movie, the writers are leading you one way, breadcrumbing you, showing you evidence and then, WHAM! Plot twist. 

What you think is creating your experience. If you can’t 100% prove something, it’s a thought, not a fact. 

The next time you believe that if you get promoted you’ll gain respect, ask yourself if it’s possible that that’s just a thought?

Is it possible that you are wrong? 

Make space for the idea that you might be wrong. 

Then you have to decide what you want to think or believe instead. 

I’d choose something that feels relatable. 

If you are coming from the thought I always make bad decisions, then thinking I have the best brain and always make the best decisions, probably isnt believable or relatable. 

So back off a bit. 

What’s more relatable? 

How about ‘it’s possible that I have made good decisions’. 

Then I am sure you can find some good decisions. 

Based on this client example, here are some good decisions that I know she’s made. 

She went to university. She’s capable of learning. She got a job. She’s capable of making money. She cares about the quality of her work. I think all of these are proof that she knows how to make decisions that benefit her career and life.  

She can choose to practice the thought, it’s possible I can make more good decisions. Or it’s possible I can learn to trust myself. It’s possible that I can train my brain to change my negative thinking. 

When you choose a new thought, hold space and possibility for it. Practice. 

Just for today, I am going to believe it’s possible that I can trust myself. 

You start to find evidence that it’s true. 

When you think a thought that is more relatable, your brain will shift from a state of stress and anxiety to one of possibility. It’s relatable that you can learn how to trust yourself. Your brain will do this naturally to find proof because it wants to survive. 

Now, my lovelies, you have to be patient with yourself because it may take some time. 

If you have been beating the drum of –I make bad decisions– for some time it’s not going to change in a day. 

But the change comes with both how often and how long you choose to practice the new thought.  Practice means that you may not always be good at it, but you make a decision, a committed thought with a committed action (check out episode #7 on decision making) and then you practice.  If you feel stuck, get a coach. 

So to recap: 

When negative thinking pops up ask yourself if you thought it true? Can you prove it? Separate thoughts from facts. 

Find a thought that is relatable. Something that feels easier to believe

Practice. The frequency and duration of your practice is what is going to bring you results. 

When the thought becomes believable. Can you strengthen it? Can you up-level it? 

Being ridiculous with our thoughts is who we move from a negative thinking mindset to creating extraordinary results in our career. 

To paraphrase the Ad Man, Leo Burnett  If I want to reach the moon and fail at least I’ll get a handful of stars.  If I only reach for the sky and fail, I only grab air. 

Before I go, who are you getting your support from? I’d be honored to help you with your career challenges. You can learn more on my website


Alright my friends. Have a fab day, and I’ll see you next time. 

Mentioned on the show: 

The real quote from Leo Burnett, “When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.” 

Learn about one-on-one coaching at JillGriffinCoacing.com. Follow @jillgriffincoaching for daily inspiration. 

If you are an anxious achiever, I can help you reduce stress, manage imposter syndrome, increase confidence, and up-level their careers. Schedule a free consultation at https://jillgriffin.as.me/MiniConsult

Follow @jillGriffinOfficial on Instagram daily inspiration.

Tune into The Refresh Your Career Podcast Available on all streaming apps. https://jillgriffin.buzzsprout.com/