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How to flip the negative to get the results you want.

May 17, 2021

School Days

One of my daughters has recently changed secondary schools. She hadn’t settled into the school from day one and wasn’t happy. This was having a detrimental effect on her learning and also, her wellbeing so, we felt we needed to take steps to improve the situation.

The thing is, she’d got herself into such a negative thought pattern that when starting her new school, she expected worst-case scenarios to play out, for people to be mean to the ‘new girl’, for the teachers to constantly compare her to her elder sister, for the classwork to be so different from her previous school that she’d feel left behind, and to feel lost trying to find her way around the new buildings.

I had a chat with her about how confirmation bias will mean our brain will look to prove us right. So, if we expect to lose our way in a new place – our brain is in a negative state and not in an open and resourceful mindset, therefore, it won’t spot the sign on the wall showing you the way; you won’t see the student who’s just spotted you looking a bit lost and can help you, and so forth. Our brain looks for ways to prove us right. Equally, if you expect things to go well in a situation, you’ll spot the opportunities that will assist your path forward – if you’ll pardon the pun!

Keeper of the key

It’s about having an expect success mindset. Our dominant thought is crucial in any challenge or endeavour in life. For we have three modes of thinking when we’re in a zone of being tested and our brain will adopt one of those modes:

  1. Expecting failure
  2. Trying to avoid failure
  3. Expecting success

The mindset which most will adopt when facing a challenge, is to try to avoid failure. But what’s the dominant thought here? Failure. So, if we’re expecting failure, our brain cannot be in an open and resourceful state. It cannot see the wood for the trees. It’s perhaps in a state of flux, panicking, or just resigned to the fact this is a dead end.

I liken it to having a set of doors in our brain. Behind each door is all the knowledge, skills and ability that we possess – the 20% of the success equation. However, to be able to access all of that, we need the 80% - the attitude, motivation and thinking skills – we need to expect success. Only then will we have the keys to those doors – to unlock and access all that information, all that potential that we have to achieve great things.

For example, if we are in an exam situation and we’re nervous, convincing ourselves we’ll never remember anything we’ve learnt or revised, our brain will freeze. All that knowledge will feel inaccessible, and it will be a huge struggle to retrieve it. Those doors in our mind will be firmly closed and not only that, the key also won’t be under the doormat.

However, if we are calm and quietly confident that we’ve done the work and know we can do this, not only do we have the key, but those doors will fling wide open and even if we don’t know the answer, we know that behind those doors, we have the ability to formulate an answer.

It’s such a powerful mindset to adopt – to drive the direction of your thoughts, to create the results you want.

The secret of my success

You move towards your dominant thought. The thoughts you have throughout each day and the quality of those thoughts will dictate your mood and thus your behaviour. If your dominant thought is one of defeatism or constant questioning of your own ability, then you're constantly putting yourself on the back foot to achieving whatever it is you're setting out to achieve. However, if you tell yourself you're looking forward to the day ahead, that you're going to complete the current tricky project at work; or maybe you’ve been putting off making a phone call but today is the day you’ll approach it feeling in control and able to resolve the situation, you are leading the charge – your dominant thought is one of success, of achievement.

Everything you do is preceded by the thoughts (conscious or subconscious) that create your emotions and thus your behaviour, meaning the quality of your actions cannot exceed the quality of your thinking. Whether you are interacting with family or friends, managing your team, facing an interview, seeking support for your project, taking on a new responsibility or about to play a tennis or football shot, make sure the way you are thinking gets you closer to the result you want. Think about the way you think. Ensure you expect success in all your endeavours.

Does expecting success 100% guarantee a positive outcome every single time, no. But it does considerably stack the cards in your favour. Your brain will be doing what it can to prove you right – to ensure you are successful. It will be more open to possibilities and it will be spotting the opportunities to make it happen.

What can we do to move ourselves up a gear – to expect success?

Step 1 - Identify your dominant thought around the challenge. Do you fear failure? Do you not believe you have what it takes to make a success of it? Perhaps you fear what success might bring? What's your dominant thought? Challenge it!

Step 2 - Think about your self-talk. Is it supporting your self-belief or chipping away at it? Be conscious of the way you're describing your abilities both to yourself and to others. Ensure your self-talk is positive and uplifting.

Step 3 - Repeat assumptive affirmations to yourself daily which promote your self-belief and your self-worth. You can do this and are worthy of success!

Step 4 - Visualisation is a powerful tool - it's why high-performing sportspeople use it. This stuff works! Make a mental movie using all five senses and see yourself achieving the challenge.

Step 5 - Ensure you've the support you need to achieve your goals - whether that be from loved ones, your manager, peers or a mentor. That support will be your sounding board.

You can smash that perceived glass ceiling. So GO FOR IT!

Attitude adjustment

Whatever your goals, expect it to work out well. Be optimistic and get the power of conscious thinking on your side. Does this mean things never go wrong for positive, optimistic people?  Of course not. But when optimists fail or find problems, they look for solutions and recover more quickly than pessimists. Pessimists expect to fail, optimists accept they could fail but expect to succeed.

As for my daughter, two ‘buddies’ were assigned to show her around the school and were lovely and helped her to feel welcome; she bumped into old friends from primary school and as it was a smaller school, she figured out where everything was pretty quickly. It’s a work in progress, but isn’t all our learning and development?

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Do you feel like your thoughts are more often than not negative? Is your dominant thought to try to avoid failure rather than expecting the best of things?

Would you like to feel more in control of the nature of your thoughts, to take your life in the direction you want to take it?

The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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