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Brainstorm Blues? How to Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

Sierra Smith December 23, 2019

At some point in your life, you’ll have a negative thought about your own ideas, work, or actions. . Maybe you’ll have many. A negative thought is when you are doubting your own abilities. Perhaps, at this very moment, you’re having a negative thought.

When brainstorming or attending a meeting, we can get in our own way with negative thoughts. We won’t chime in because we fear we’ll be judged. Our VP of Sales and Marketing, Ellen Kaminski, once said it best: “The voice in your head will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you tell yourself becomes the truth.”

So, when that voice tells you that your idea is terrible and embarrassing, that’s what you’ll believe. Factually, that may not be the case. It could be an idea that innovates and changes the way you go about exhibiting. It could be an idea that saves your business thousands of dollars. It could even be an idea that moves your career forward.

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Why do we have these thoughts? It could be a variety of factors, all based on our past experiences. But, there’s a way to stop them in their tracks and rewire the way your brain thinks.

By trade, I spent many years as a Social Media Analyst and Digital Media Planner. My roles required me to be agile in my thoughts, brave and purposeful in what I recommended and humbled when an idea didn’t go as planned. When I first began my career, I thought I’d be quickly fired because I didn’t have any experience. I rarely spoke up in meetings even though there were some great ideas bouncing around in my brain. I was intimidated by my colleagues and did not want them to judge me or deride my ideas.

I eventually learned that wasn’t true. And in fact, I was always respected for my ability to learn quickly, problem-solve, and create solutions that made life easier for not only myself but for my colleagues. Of course, I didn’t get fired. The best tactic I learned to stop ridiculous, negative thoughts comes from psychology and techniques that help people who have endured serious trauma or suffer from low self-esteem. Borrowing and simplifying from those therapies you can follow these steps to counteract those pesky, negative thoughts.

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After a negative thought has crossed your mind, think about the following information:

  1. The Event: What happened? What was asked of you?
  2. The Thought: When your idea crossed your mind, what did you think about it?
  3. The Feeling: What were your emotions once this thought crossed your mind?
  4. The Behavior: How did your thought cause you to react?

Once you’ve thought through these questions, it’s time to reverse your thinking. The Event: What happened?

  1. New Thought: Go back to your original thought. Is it factual that your idea is poor or wouldn’t work? Can it be proven? What thought could you have had that would be more productive?
  2. The Feeling: After having the new, productive thought, what emotions did you feel?
  3. New Behavior: With the new thought, how would you react to this event?

If you find yourself doubting your abilities and hesitant to share your ideas, try to this exercise at least once a day when you have that negative thought. Over time, increase the frequency, and eventually, you won’t need to be so methodical in your approach. Automatically, your brain will begin reversing those unproductive thoughts, and the ideas and creative juices will flow freely!

Whether you’re new or seasoned in your career, insecurities and pessimistic thoughts can cloud ideas capable of forging positive change and growth. Don’t get in your way. Your mind is holding valuable, memorable experiences for people in your organization or on the show floor. We can’t wait to see your ideas come to life.

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