Negative thinking and reducing fears in 3 steps [+ checklist]


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Positive thinking makes you productive. Unfortunately, we do not always want to succeed. An exercise helps to get negative thoughts, fears and worries out of your head.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Positive thinking improves work and life and motivates to peak performance

Öfters haben wir in letzter Zeit Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® Explains how positive thinking improves our work and our lives - because we become more productive when we see things in a brighter light. Thus, the power of a self-fulfilling positive prophecy can literally spur us to peak performance.

In doing so, I also analyzed why positive thinking is lost so often - eg because of external influences. But our brain is also to blame for the negative thoughts: For evolutionary reasons, they simply hang easier than positive memories.

Just switch off helps

And what's more, the more and longer we think about a problem, the worse it gets. We spin in a circle and the brain “rattles”, as psychologists Neil Roese and Jeff Kuban confirmed through scientific studies at the University of Illinois.

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They recommend based on this finding: Just switch off. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done, when one fear is always harassing the other through the brain. How can you just stop there?

Exaggerating negative thoughts absurdly: 3 steps

I found the following method useful: Do not push away negative thoughts, but on the contrary, push and exaggerate them - until we realize how absurd many of our fears and fears are. And then refute them. This is how I do it:

Step 1: Collect your fears

Just write down everything that might be your negative assumption if you do or do not do this or that. Then you will soon realize that some of the concerns you carry around with you are unfounded, and that the consequences of your actions can not be as tragic as you feared.

I have listed some classic examples below. In addition, I have deliberately listed a few rather exaggerated fears that have nothing to do with the matter: they are meant to show that there is not necessarily any connection between the plot and the feared outcome.

Step 2: Formulate assumptions as statements

Important: Formulate the assumptions necessarily as a statement, in no case as a question, because then you can better deal with it:

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  1. I get bullied if I try less hard
  2. If I do not do this work, nobody does it and it stays
  3. My Chef is going to be incredibly angry if I do not do what is expected of me
  4. I will be terminated without notice if I do not do my job well
  5. If I do not put pressure on myself, I become unproductive and can not do anything
  6. Just today, the CEO might drop by the department and see that I'm lazy
  7. I will never get such a job again unless I give at least 150 percent
  8. The customer will not recommend me and talk bad about me if I do not do it perfectly now
  9. The boss will give me bad references and I will never find a good job again
  10. If my department is not the best, we will lose the bonus payment
  11. I expect my employees to do their best - I can not just do less than they do
  12. If I make a mistake now, I will not be promoted

Step 3: Find evidence for or against the fears

In a second step, you should now go through your fears in turn and deal with the following three questions at each point:

  • What proof is there that my assumption is true?
  • What evidence is there that my assumption is not true?
  • What would I say to other people in the same situation?

Conclusion: Find out how realistic negative thoughts are

The whole process serves to find out how to really put the overpowering, negative thoughts into context.

In this way, you will very quickly get a realistic picture of your situation. You will realize that many fears are realistically unnecessary. With the few remaining sticking points, you can now with all the more vigor and optimism strive for a solution.


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