We can’t prevent negative thoughts from creeping into our lives, but we can control how we react to them. We’ve all had moments when we’ve felt imposter syndrome, started questioning our why, and felt like self-doubt was taking over. Learning how to let go of negative thoughts begins with identifying the root of the problem, so you can start to turn things around.
When you’re building a business, quitting your 9 to 5 to pursue your dream career, or launching something new, it can feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
You might be wondering:
- What happens next?
- What if it doesn’t work out?
- Am I on the right path?
- Can I pull this off?
Life is hard; we all have insecurities. It can be challenging to say balanced in the present moment, especially when you’re starting something new. When you begin to feel negative thoughts, it’s important to realize that you have a choice on what to do next.
Ready to turn off negative thoughts?
We turned to the professionals for helpful tips on how to get started. These two women entrepreneurs share their secrets on how to let go of what no longer serves you to get what you want in life and your career.
Meet Mikaela Kiner; she’s the Founder and CEO of Reverb, a Seattle-based consulting company focused on people operations. She’s also the author of Female Firebrands: Stories and Techniques to Ignite Change, Take Control, and Succeed in the Workplace.
Ilana Zivkovich is the Founder and CEO of Werq, an executive and team performance coaching firm in Austin, TX. She’s an experienced executive leader and Certified Executive Coach, and her team helps leaders align their people, processes, and strategy to achieve exceptional results.
Let’s dive into their key takeaways to help you stay balanced and focused when negativity arises.
1. Identify + Label Your Negative Thoughts.
“One way to increase your awareness is to write them down. In some cases simply recognizing that a thought is untrue or irrational may be enough to help dismiss it,” says Kiner
Look for triggers and think about what might be causing feelings of uncertainty. Take a moment, and ask yourself,
- How likely is it that this is true?
- Would I say this to someone I love?
- What else might be true?
2. How to Let Things Go.
While we can’t control when we start to feel imposter syndrome or negative thoughts, we can choose to move forward and take positive action.
“Remember that thoughts never stop. They are very powerful. As humans, you can’t control when they happen and what they are – so instead, we focus on how we use them.”Ilana Zivkovich, CEO & Founder of Werq
She uses the acronym POWER to overcome negative thinking.
- P: PAUSE. If you find yourself having a negative experience and don’t like it – the first thing to do is pause.
- O: OBSERVE. Once you’ve paused, you can observe what’s happening—no action or change needed at this step. Simply become more aware of what’s going on. Are your palms sweaty? Is your heart beating fast? Simply observe the physical sensations you’re having at this moment.
- W: WIDEN. Now that you’ve paused and observed what’s going on within you – widen the scope to notice what’s going on in a bigger picture. Did you sleep poorly last night? Have you eaten? Did you just experience a tense conversation with your boss? By widening your awareness, the negative thought itself loses some power as it is no longer the forefront of your attention and emotion.
- E: ELECT and
- R: RESPOND. These go together to finish the system. Now that you’ve paused, observed yourself, the thoughts, and the world around you, you are better equipped to fully understand the reality and elect how you choose to respond.
3. Create a Plan.
“Until we recognize what’s at the root of our fear or self-judgment, it can be hard to move on.”Mikaela Kiner, Founder & CEO of Reverb
Keep a list of things that you want to accomplish in a journal or notebook. Write down your goals and what you need to do to help you stay focused and on the right track.
“Let’s say you failed to get a promotion, and you’re beating yourself up. You may think you’re not smart enough, you’re not a hard worker, or your boss simply doesn’t like you. When you ask yourself what else might be true, you may discover that you haven’t told your boss you’d like a promotion, you don’t have a development plan, and you don’t know what goals you need to achieve to get promoted. Using that information, you can create a plan for yourself to share your aspirations and actively work with your boss. Next time, even if you don’t get promoted, you’ll have concrete information about why it didn’t happen,” says Kiner.
4. Changing your Mindset.
If you start to notice negative thinking patterns, get in the habit of using positive affirmations or self-talk to help you change your mindset. Keep a folder of inspirational messages, or testimonials to lift you up and remind you how amazing and talented you are. Find a support system or accountability buddy who you can count on.
“Remember to reach out to your mentor, therapist, friend, family member, etc. – whoever provides you a safe place to share your thoughts and let them out. Often simply bringing thoughts to light with another listener causes you to find evidence for or against them and move towards positive action and to let go of negative thoughts that don’t serve you,” says Zivkovich.
- You are not alone.
- Recognize what’s causing any negativity.
- Make intentional choices to be kind to yourself.
- Take time for yourself to practice self-care, if you’re feeling stressed.
- Find a good support system.
“We learn from our past in order to survive and thrive. This is an advantage because it keeps us from repeating mistakes and helps us recognize danger,” says Kiner. “As an adult, you can make intentional choices that are different from those you were raised with. Updating your beliefs and values to reflect who you are today can help you be kinder to yourself.”
How do you let go of negative thoughts, feelings and negative energy?
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