We don’t always realize as women that we are the most important assets to our business, and it’s our thinking that leads (or gets in) the way of our success. The thinking patterns that drive our everyday interactions also carry over into how you show up for your business and feel about yourself.
Why do some of the most intelligent people sabotage their success?
We all have this humble inner voice that tells us what we should be doing with our lives, who we want to be ultimately and how we should behave. It’s often influenced by our past family relationships, traumas, environmental stressors, and all the stories you’ve decided to hold on to or have trouble letting go of. Even the most brilliant woman has a story that she probably needs to release.
Overall, the issue isn’t the stories or our mindset and thinking around our experiences, but that you’ve believed that these anxiety-provoking, limiting, or shame-based stories are true. Over time, these self-critical internal stories create an automatic narrative of how we view the world and respond to it, which also plays out with our business moves. A woman who defines her worth by her external success, and see herself as a failure when she isn’t a top performer, is more likely to be self-critical. That woman will probably feel less motivated when things don’t go as expected, may even question her whole business, and often think, “I’m not enough”.
How to Recognize Toxic Thinking Styles
Leading a business can trigger a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. We want to focus on the more negative thoughts or cognitive distortions that typically show up when you are worried, anxious, or upset. The clients I work with often struggle with overthinking, are huge procrastinators, and are good at talking themselves out of taking risks in their business. I find it empowering to help these women recognize how their thinking patterns play a role in their motivation, frustration, sense of self, and even problems like anxiety, stress, and making decisions.
How you can recognize if your thinking is an issue is to listen to how you speak to yourself. Do you hear a lot of self-defeating, harsh, or critical statements like “I can’t do this,” “this is going to fall apart,” or “If I don’t succeed at this, I’m a failure?” Another sign of toxic thinking is giving up easily. You are ambitious and driven with impressive goals and ideas but often focus on the failures, not the successes, and give up on them too quickly.
How to Know If Your Negative Thinking Is Affecting Your Business
While a few common unhelpful thinking styles can keep the most ambitious and intelligent woman stagnant in their business, do you know which one is common for you? Let’s take a look at five common thinking patterns that can damage your business strategy.
The Checklist of Unhelpful Thinking Styles:
One: Should statements are prevalent and are laced with critical messages (and usually unattainable standards) and often trigger guilt and anxiety. It involves thinking about things that you believe you “should” “ought to,” or “must” do.
It may sound like “I should be able to handle this,” or “I should be doing better by now,” or “I ought to be able to handle this .” These statements tend to dial up the pressure and make it very difficult to keep working on those business goals when you don’t achieve what you connected to those should statements.
Two: Catastrophizing is when you jump right to the worst possible outcome for a situation. When you are constantly worried about what could happen in a scenario, it can intensify your anxiety and minimize your actions when it comes to your business. So if I go live, no one will watch, and I’ll be an epic failure. . .so instead of leaning into the fear, you avoid and don’t go live, sound familiar?
Three: Discounting the positives is all about discounting your accomplishments and minimizing the positive qualities about yourself. For example, if you do an excellent job with that launch you’ve worked so hard on and it goes well, you reason that it was luck, it isn’t a big deal, and fail to give yourself credit for your role in the success.
Four: Jumping to Conclusions is when you interpret a situation without the facts. There are two parts to this thinking pattern; you can either be a mind reader or a fortuneteller.
Mind reading is when you assume that people react negatively to you or judge you when there’s no definite evidence for it.
Fortune-telling is when you decide things will turn out badly, “I can see it now, this just isn’t going to work” or “no one is going to come .”Have you ever done that?
Five: Mental filter is when you dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives, aka negative Nancy.
How many of those toxic thinking styles show up for you?
The next time you find yourself overlooking the good, procrastinating, or struggling to get out of bed to slay those goals, it could be you are engaged in a toxic thinking pattern. The good news is you can learn to shift your thinking so it’s more balanced, resilient, and encouraging to help you reach your goals and tackle the most challenging situations.
How to Deal with these Mindset Missteps
A great place to start is by noticing when you are dwelling on any negative thoughts or when there is a significant change in how you feel (like maybe more anxious). Start to get into the habit of slowing down to reassess the situation by observing and cross-examining your thoughts with the following questions:
1. Is this thought realistic?
2. Am I basing my thoughts on facts or feelings?
3. What is the evidence for this thought? Don’t simply assume your negative thought is accurate, and don’t be afraid to prove yourself wrong.
4. Is there another way I could look at this?
5. What would a friend say, or is there someone else I can ask for perspective.
Over time, with practice, you won’t need to consciously ask yourself these questions to shift your negative thinking. It will become automatic, and you will better be able to catch them way before they spiral out of control and get in the way of your success.
Remember, many of these cognitive distortions or thinking patterns are common. Still, if you believe that it is negatively impacting your follow through with your business goals or your confidence, it’s a good time to talk to us about business coaching from a mindset perspective.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R isn’t just a Psychotherapist and a Mindset Coach for Ambitious Women who are business owners or striving to be. She is here to help you move from fear to success, master your emotions, and use your strengths to achieve the next level in your business. For 1:1 coaching, or to take a look at how she can support you, learn more at amandafludd.com/coaching.
Sources: American Psychological Association. What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
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