Have you ever had a negative mental, physical, and emotional response to something that somebody said or to something that happened in your daily life? Perhaps someone rejected you on a date or rejected an idea you had. Perhaps someone made a seemingly harmless statement that hit a nerve in you. Why does this happen and how can we control it?
Growing up, I was a very sensitive kid. According to other family members, I had a tendency to cry over a lot of things people said, very minor things. I had a tendency to take everything personally. Eventually, I learned to control myself a little better as I matured. However, even today I am very sensitive to things people say. Thankfully, that sensitivity has benefits. It allows me to be more aware of what mental patterns are bothering me. For example, if someone makes a negative statement about my work, I can feel it right away. I am aware of my negative thoughts such as, “you’re incompetent”, “you’ll never amount to anything”, or “you’ve failed once again”. Even if I’m not aware of those words, I can feel the impact of them in my head and in my body.
Why Do I Have These Thoughts?
The only reason I have these negative thoughts and emotions is because I have some negative beliefs about myself regarding my capabilities and competence. Subconsciously, I believe that I am not good enough. When I am doing good work and receiving positive reinforcement, I don’t feel bad. However, once I receive negative feedback, my negative belief starts fueling all these negative thoughts that drive negative emotions. The emotions then drive more negative thoughts in a self-reinforcing loop. As a result, I drive myself downwards in a spiral of negative emotions.
How Do I Deal with This?
The first step is to be aware of what is going on. If I were unaware of this, I would probably let those negative thoughts and emotions control me and cause me to make lots of poor decisions. However, since I am aware of what is going on, I first feel the emotions. I just let it be for a bit and allow myself to process those emotions. Eventually they dissipate. I also pay attention to the exact thoughts that run through my head.
Once I feel that my emotions have dissipated to a manageable level, I start changing my beliefs. Objectively, I know that my work isn’t bad. Even if they weren’t the best, I know that I have the capability to improve. My first step is to identify all the negative beliefs that were going through me, then trace them back to the core, root belief that led to all the other negative beliefs. My core, root belief holding me back was that I am not good enough, which is not true. I emphasize to myself that I am capable and good enough to do well. I have shown in the past that I am capable and can do great work. By emphasizing those beliefs to myself, I have changed my original root belief that I am not good enough and replaced it with a belief that I am capable and competent.
Once I have changed that belief, the next time someone says something negative about my work, I no longer have the same negative reaction. In practice, you might still have some negative reaction because it takes time to fully change a belief. However, by actively diving into your mind for these negative beliefs and changing them, you can change the way you talk to yourself, change the thoughts that come up, and change the emotions that arise.
How to Apply to Achieve Goals
The ability to actively change your negative beliefs and thoughts is an extremely powerful tool, especially when it comes to accomplishing your goals. When you embark on a journey to achieve something, you may feel a lot of negativity and thoughts such as, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m bound to fail”, or “Other people are too good at this” may come to mind. Those thoughts may drive a lot of nervousness, anxiety, and doubt. You can use the technique I described above to identify and change some of the thoughts that may be holding you back. Of course, there’s no substitute for hard work, sound thinking, and solid execution. However, having the right mental tools may drive you further and give you that extra edge you need to succeed.
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