Everyone has an internal negative voice. That voice that tells you you are not good enough, or that you should feel guilty or blah blah anything that creates negative feelings.
If you’re not aware of it then good, you may have consciously silenced it, although believe me it is likely still running there, whirring silently in the background.
We Are Hardwired For Negativity
We are hardwired to remember negativity more easily than any positive information. This means as we experience new situations or information we are more likely to interpret that information negatively. This can then become a predominant pattern of reaction to your experience.
There are many ways our negative voice interprets the most seemingly innocent information into an attack upon ourselves. Some of the most common ways you will know you’ve developed a pattern of negative reactions is if you have:
- Received a compliment and you somehow manage to reject it or find a way to turn it into a negative.
- Been questioned about something in all innocence and you immediately feel guilty.
- Felt like innocent comments by others are somehow expressing judgement on you.
- Worried about the “what if’s” always imagining the worst.
The Neuroscience of Negativity
It’s really a case of how our brain interprets information. As we experience the world we are presented with situations or information which our brain makes sense of. Depending on how we interpret the information it hits either the amygdala, the side of the brain that deals with threat or the ventral striatum which is the side dealing with reward.
Where we have habitually veered onto the side of a negative response then we are mainly processing information through the filter of threat and risk. This then leads to a negative emotional reaction. The impact is that we just simply feel bad a lot of the time. As a result, our lives can feel like a continuous form of firefighting where our fight or flight response is forever on standby.
Changing The Programming
The trick to managing that internal negative voice is to change your programming. It can feel uncomfortable at first although ultimately, it will empower you. Here are some of the factors needed to change that programming.
1. The negative voice is not you
You have to believe that the negative voice is not you. The negative voice is simply made up of habitual thoughts which you’ve practised often.
2. Switch from experiencing to observing
You have to emerge from experiencing the negative voice to observing the negative voice. Look at it. See it as something separate from you.
3. Explore more positive thoughts
As you observe the negative voice you then have the opportunity to change that thought or belief to something more positive. If you feel you can’t then go back to step one and open up the possibility that the thought is simply not true.
4. Be your own best friend
If you’ve trouble changing your thoughts put yourself in the shoes of your best friend. What would your best friend say to you in this situation (alert! If your best friend would create more negativity then you need to change your best friend!)
5. Find evidence of a better feeling thought
Question the truth of the negative conclusion you’ve come to. Remember times when everything went well. Look at other people and find examples and evidence which enable you to think differently.
Give yourself time to reflect and pivot your thoughts to something more positive. Write down your negative thoughts with a view to challenging them with more positive, affirming statements.
7. Develop a habit of flicking the switch
Flick the switch on negative thoughts. This means when you find yourself having negative thoughts you press the stop button in your mind and switch to something more positive.
While we are hardwired to focus on negativity actually our true nature is to be positive. This means that whatever your negative thoughts might want you to think, the truth is that your true nature is kind, loving, optimistic and carefree. When you’re operating in alignment with your true nature then you will look at that negative voice and laugh at it. Really!
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