Let’s not lie. Most of us are constantly thinking negative thoughts. Frustrated thoughts. Looking at worst-case scenarios and worrying what else could go wrong.
Building a network of business discipleship, I am witnessing firsthand how negativity is hampering the growth of individuals who otherwise have amazing potential to excel in their chosen fields. Collectively speaking, that same negative mental dialogue is affecting outcome of companies because the workforce is demoralized, suspicious and constantly in fear of losing out.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
By recognizing – and accepting – negativity as par for the course, each and every one of us can use tools to raise ourselves out of the mire of bad feelings, and re-approach each day in powerfully positive ways.
Life coaches often advocate a polar shift. They ask you to identify a negative feeling, and then consciously turn yourself in the opposite direction. Personally, I think that jump is too great, which is why most people fail so often at it. You cannot turn on a dime and go from 0 to 80 on the emotional yoyo scale in a matter of seconds. We’re not machines and weren’t built that way.
Instead, what we can do quite easily and effectively is compartmentalize the feeling as `micro’ and `macro’.
Negativity is normal in the `micro’ scheme of things. Daily life events, in other words, that are relevant only in the `now’. A difficult assignment, an annoying colleague or maybe just a bad client meeting. As human beings with strong heart-brain connections and fight-or-flight impulses, we cannot argue against our genetic composition and be completely cured of negative ideations one fine day.
Like I said, they’re par for the course and they will come up many times during a normal 9-to-5 shift. However, if you consciously believe that your `macro’ situation – the professional big picture — is positive and forward-looking, then you will put less value on your momentary bad feelings and not allow them to take root and flourish like a weed in your garden.
I recognized this important difference when I left my father’s company and struck out on my own in the real estate sector. I understood real estate very well. But that did not mean I liked it. From the age of 11, I had helped our family’s underground construction enterprise and while doing everything from building to selling homes and office spaces, I never once questioned whether my heart was truly in it.
I released myself from a partnership with my father and jumped straight into another one with a woman who was the same age as he. The rules were the same, the environment was the same, the work was the same, and I hated all of it. My `macro’ priorities were so jacked up, that I didn’t want to work hard at my day-to-day tasks at all. Though we were making good money, I was deeply unhappy and living in a constant state of frustration and depression. I lost faith in my own leadership skills and pretty much doomed the company with all the negativity I was injecting daily into it.
I was consumed by ill-feelings and looking at `micro’ events for a solution. No wonder I was getting nowhere.
Many years and many real estate companies later, I believe I have finally sorted my `macro’ issues out. With Mastodon Media, I am fully committed to the advertising agency’s `macro’ picture. And my role in leading it.
Now, I find it so much easier to deal with all the daily `micro’ issues that plague anyone who’s wearing multiple hats within a young company trying to make its mark. I have tough days like everyone else, when stress and negativity are at an all-time high. But I have learnt how to quickly diffuse its impact in small, imperceptible ways that immediately make me feel better.
By not interpreting a `micro’ problem as a `macro’ one, I can choose one of several methods to allow joy to return to my heart: reading a quick passage from the Bible, taking a daily walk in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, or making a mental list of everything I have in this very moment to be grateful about. If I’m in office, I do one of my favorite things: use my words to make someone else feel better.
That, my friends, is the ultimate mood-enhancing activity. It promotes production of feel-good hormones in the brain, and spreads good vibes well beyond our own energy fields.
Don’t believe me, try it for yourself. When you’re feeling strong negative emotions, say a few encouraging words to someone sitting next to you. And then watch how quickly negativity transmutes into positive emotions, and the recipient of your kindliness pays it forward by being kindly towards another person – and another, and another and so it goes… An invisible thread of positivity and grace, raising the collective mood of the workplace for a little while at least…