Train yourself out of negative thinking

Lady Life Lessons's picture


Always expecting the worst? Our brains have a built-in negativity bias says Life Coach Carole Ann Rice

Your boss arrives this morning with a face worse than death.  You’re unsure how you’ve been performing of late and you just know that grim look is because they are unhappy with your work.  Your stomach churns as you start to imagine that soon you will be called to the manager’s office where you will be told your work is not up to scratch, to go fetch a box from the canteen, empty your desk and then later you will be escorted from the offices with your p45 clenched between your teeth and pot plant under your arm.

Within weeks you will fail to meet your bills and 2 months later you’ll be selling the Big Issue on your local high street. You’re now in a full-on panic attack at your desk. This is where your brain instantly went to on seeing your boss’s downcast features which were probably down to the Tube strike and constipation.

Do you routinely catastrophise daily issues?

Do your thoughts take you to terrifying worst case scenarios and leave you in a state of anxiety and dread? Our “attack” thoughts, if listened to, can undermine our wellbeing and sense of self and can create a pessimistic outlook that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

Such is the power of this pernicious panicked thought process that it can become a reality and seriously affect performance.  Which is why the England football team have called upon the services of Dr Steve Peters whose mind management techniques help elite athletes and top managers achieve amazing results.  

The author of The Chimp Paradox he has been enlisted to help Roy Hodgson’s men train their brains to keep positive and practical and not spiraling into possible default positions of defeat or disaster.  His philosophy states that the key to success and happiness is managing the inner “chimp” part of the brain. He works to the principle that the brain comprises a logical “human” part, the rash and panicky “chimp” part and a third component – the “computer” part which stores experiences and memories.  

His work has helped the Team GB cycling team to extraordinary success in the London Olympics in 2012 and high hopes are on for the England players not going ape when the Group D games are concluded in the summer.

Psychologists say that we have up to 60,000 thoughts a day and given that 95-99% of them are repetitive ones it pays to learn how to manage that “chimp” in order to create a happy and peaceful perspective.  For those of us who can’t stretch to the services of Dr Peters could try this simple but highly effective way of pushing back those chimp thoughts. 

Put a tight-fitting elastic band around your wrist and as soon as you notice an unpleasant, gloomy or pessimistic thought snap that band hard to jolt yourself out of the fear.  Replace the thought with a reverse positive outcome enough times and you will soon start to re-wire those primate impulses.

For more free coaching tips sign up to the Wit and Wisdom newsletter