A common reason for lack of progress in business is negative thoughts. The way you think about your business has a profound effect on your ability to succeed. Mindset is one of the top reasons why many people quit before experiencing success, so it’s important to know how to change your mindset for success and combat negative thoughts before they interfere with your business.
How Thoughts Impact Business Growth
The thoughts we have about situations color our emotional experience, which in turn impacts how we act in situations. Think of your thoughts as the stories you tell yourself about a situation.
Let’s look at an example. Say you’ve walked into a restaurant and you see a friend of yours sitting at a table. You walk past her and say “hi” and she looks down at the table failing to acknowledge you. What thoughts might you have about this situation?
Some examples might be:
- She’s mad at me
- She’s embarrassed to be seen with me
- She didn’t hear me
Your emotions will be quite different depending on the story you tell yourself. If you think she’s mad, you might feel worried about what you did wrong. If you think she’s embarrassed to be seen with you, you might feel ashamed. If you think she didn’t hear you, you might feel neutral.
Might you also act differently toward her depending on which thought you have? I know I would. Note that all of these feelings came from the same exact situation and the only change was the interpretation you made!
This same thing happens when you’re starting a business. Putting yourself out there is scary! We tell ourselves a lot of stories about why things happen (or don’t happen).
Change your Mindset When it Comes to Comparisons
A huge area where this becomes a problem is with comparing your blog to others’. This is a red alert danger zone and can lead to negative blog destroying thoughts quicker than anything. I remember the first time this happened to me. I was feeling pretty good because I just completed a huge task. I went on a Facebook group and the first post I saw said something like “I’ve been blogging for four weeks and I’m only getting 800 page views per day. What am I doing wrong and what can I do to improve?”
At the time, I felt I was working my butt off, doing all the right things but only getting 30 or so page views a day. I was blogging a lot longer than four weeks at the time. It was so discouraging.
In fact, I almost quit.
You see this triggered HUGE self doubt. My thoughts were all over the place. I told myself my blog must be terrible, no one wants to listen to me, I’m not doing anything right, and there’s something wrong with me. I went from feeling like I was making great progress to feeling like I should quit in a matter of seconds.
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When you have negative feelings about something, you want to feel better. So you stop doing whatever made you feel bad! My solution was to quit blogging altogether because then I didn’t have to feel like a failure.
Luckily, as a psychologist I’ve had lots of experience helping people to see that their thoughts are just thoughts and do not necessarily represent facts. Negative thoughts are often automatic and we don’t even notice them most of the time. I knew since I had such a strong reaction I needed to slow down and understand the story I was telling myself before making rash decisions.
You can learn to change this automatic process from taking over so you can stop getting in your own way.
Notice Your Thought Patterns
The first step to figuring out how you’re impacted by your thoughts is to pay attention to and notice the thoughts getting in your way. This isn’t always easy since we talk to ourselves all day and unfortunately a lot of the self talk is negative. You’ll have to discover what thoughts you’re having that cause you problems.
The best way to do this is to pay attention to the way you’re feeling. When I read that the new blogger had 800 page views per day, I felt sad and discouraged. It led to strong urges to quit.
It would have been easy for me to decide I should quit since I was nowhere near 800 page views per day and had been blogging way longer than she was. It felt like a fact that I was a terrible blogger.
When you notice yourself feeling negative emotions, stop and ask yourself what just happened and what thought just went through your head. I suggest writing these down because they are clues to what’s causing your negative emotions.
When I felt like quitting, I decided to stop to pay attention to what I was thinking. I had thoughts like “I’m not good enough.” “There’s something wrong with me.” “I’ll never be successful.” “Everyone is doing better than I am.” “I should quit.”
Ouch. No wonder I felt so terrible.
How to Change Your Mindset for Success by Challenging Your Thoughts
Once you figure out the thoughts that are interfering, the next step is to take each one individually and look for the evidence for and against the them.
Let’s start with the example, “I’m a terrible blogger.” If this was your thought, you’d want to first look for evidence that this is true. Your evidence would be that the Facebook blogger said her blog has more pageviews than yours. You’d want to look for other facts (not opinions). Try to come up with all you can think of.
Next, write down all the evidence against the thought, any facts that go against “I’m a terrible blogger.” Here you might provide evidence of a growth, comments, emails from your audience, number of posts, as well as things like recognition you are still learning and it makes sense that your blog is going slower because of the time you have to work on it.
Revise Your Story
When you challenge both sides of your negative thought it puts you in a much more reasonable position where you can change the story you’re telling yourself. I’m not talking about lying to yourself. Instead, you change your story to something that is based on reality rather than driven by emotions.
In my situation, I had to step back and say “wait a minute.” I was thinking of giving up my dream of having a successful blog because of something a stranger said on the internet. I didn’t even have proof what she said was true!
Even if it were true, comparing myself to her didn’t make sense. We have different blogging journeys, topics, time commitments, and more. I don’t know if she already had a following or if she spent a bunch of money on ads.
I changed my story to “Although I wish my blog was progressing faster, I’m improving daily and will get better over time. Someone else’s success doesn’t mean anything about mine.”
Rinse and Repeat
Once you learn how to change your mindset for success and practice this skill, it becomes much more natural over time. Trust me, when you start your blog, you’ll have a lot more opportunities for practice. You’ll experience a lot of ups and downs, but keep in mind why you started and what makes it worth it to you.
Remembering this will help you to use this skill to challenge the negative stories you tell yourself and keep going.
Marlena is the blogger behind A Pen and a Purpose, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a licensed psychologist, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters.