When bad things happen in life, it’s natural for our minds to go to the negative, but it’s important to remember that we can reframe our thinking and look at things in a way that supports momentum. The ability to reframe our thoughts and find optimism takes work, but it’s possible with a few simple steps.
Just Notice. The first step in reframing a situation that may trigger negative thoughts is noticing it’s happening in the first place.
What is the conversation you are having in your head? Especially to something you are anticipating. Is your self-talk helpful? Once you can capture the thoughts that are not, you can begin to capture those lemons and reframe them into something more practical and productive to you.
Look for Unhelpful Thought Styles. We all have default thinking styles that show up occasionally, like seeing the worst in a situation or minimizing your success. When you know those unhelpful thinking patterns, you can notice them faster and challenge them. For example, if we find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk, we can reframe those thoughts and focus on more positive and realistic interpretations of the situation.
For example, in a relationship, if the thought pops up, “If my partner doesn’t agree with me on this, then they must not love me.” This type of thinking ignores the complexities often present in relationships and the things that are going well, quickly triggering frustration, disappointment, and resentment.
What if, instead, we considered the other possibilities and changed that thought to something like, “my partner may not see eye to eye on this with me, but I know they are willing to listen and engage with me, which is a sign of their love and commitment to our relationship.” How does that sound instead? How does it compare to the first thought?
Keep A Gratitude Journal. One powerful technique is gratitude. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our attention away from negative thoughts and experiences and teach our brains to search for the positive. This can help us feel more optimistic about the future, even under challenging circumstances.
Take a few moments daily to identify 2-3 things you’re grateful for. It could improve your overall happiness.
Avoid Worst-Case Scenario Thinking. Everything isn’t going to have a horrible outcome. Instead of imagining what that can be, focus on the present moment and take things one step at a time. This can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions.
Cultivate your people! Surrounding yourself with the right people can make a big difference in staying optimistic and motivated. Having supportive friends and family members willing to listen and offer encouragement can help us feel less alone, seen, understood, and focused. If you can’t find positive people to draw from or feel like negative only follows you- reframe your thoughts! Don’t be afraid to look for the connections you need in your life in the form of mentors, joining associations, or partnering with like-minded groups. You can cultivate your people!
Let me know which approach you need to embrace more often in the comments below.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Mental Health consultant. She works in partnership with organizations and institutions like schools and corporations to assess an organization’s emotional health, designing customized mental health and wellness workshops to help teams navigate stress, burnout, and trauma so they can thrive well.
Fear is a powerful emotion that we all experience in our lives, and it is something that can be very challenging to deal with, but you can learn how to overcome fear and anxiety with a few easy to follow actionable steps.
When we are pursuing a new experience, like a new job opportunity, relationship, or starting a business, fear can hold us back. It can make us see challenges as insurmountable or make us over-prepare to the point that it slows our growth.
This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.
Fear and Anxiety
“Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
The best way to deal with fear is to face it. In facing it, you get to see if the story you made up around the issue is true or what you may be lacking to help you move forward. The more we avoid the problem, the more anxiety we consequently cause around it. For example, if you are constantly thinking about whether you will do well on an upcoming exam, you can’t sleep. The consequent exhaustion then triggers even more anxiety because you can’t concentrate and study, further impacting your sleep– and just like that, the worry has just become a debilitating cycle, confirming your worst fear- you won’t be ready for the exam and will fail.
Instead, the goal has to become to lean into the fear so you can disarm it. What if you acknowledged what your worry and fear was in the first place instead of reacting to it. Could we possibly find a better response so it loses some of its strength?
How do fears get in the way of being successful?
Culturally, I’ve been raised to not speak over others, and I think I have this natural resistance to being seen, and it’s my kryptonite that shows up at the wrong time. I can still recall moments sitting “at the table” with people in my profession and listening to them give their opinions on things and wanting to give my two cents but struggling within myself to speak up.
Fear and anxiety work like that to cripple you within yourself.
Those experiences can be triggered by various fears like the fear of judgment, failure, or the fear of being alone, and sometimes even the fear of being successful.
When challenged in that space, it can have this counter-response that looks like overthinking, avoiding opportunities, missed deadlines, low energy, feeling disconnected from your work, procrastination, perfectionism, irritability, or indecisiveness.
How can we overcome fear and anxiety?
Fear is a built-in instinct to protect us, so we don’t want to get rid of it, but we do want to help our brains understand the moments we are safe and don’t need that fear reaction. The best way to overcome fear in that case is to repeatedly do the thing that causes it but in a safe and controlled way. During this process of exposure, coupled with positive coping skills, you can learn to ride out the fear or wave of anxiety until it naturally subsides.
Need a place to track and challenge those thoughts, and work on your wellness? Grab a Wellness Planner here.
When the emotion of fear or anxiety seems overwhelming, try to shift your focus to a healthier thought or a skill that will reduce the feelings, so it is more manageable. A stress-reduction approach like mindfulness or simply taking a break and disconnecting from the issue and going for a walk may help you better take the actions you need to be successful. I would also add to be patient and add some compassion into the process. Your mind is working to keep you safe when these responses are triggered. It can’t always tell the action you want to take isn’t a dangerous risk but one you can handle and necessary to improve your current situation.
How to overcome the fears of growth as a professional
Start by identifying the fears holding you back from reaching your next level. Our thoughts are powerful, but they can be damaging and limiting when building out your dreams. The fear of failure is like the dark cloud that follows most professionals as they work on advancing their careers, especially through entrepreneurship. Rather than simply stopping people from being entrepreneurial, fear of failure can also serve as a motivator for success with a better understanding of your response dynamics. To help you better recognize and challenge your internal reactions to growth we put together some exercises to help you find those fears with the Believe Bigger Workbook available here for entrepreneurs.
Here are a few prompts from the workbook to challenge your mindset:
Once you’ve identified a few of your fears, can you think of specific experiences from your life that might have formed these fears?
What do you feel is holding you back from more significant success?
Recall a time you were afraid. How did you move past the fear?
Pause for a moment and identify and write about five of your strengths.
To deepen this practice and find the root of self-sabotaging behaviors, try keeping a journal over a period of two or three weeks. Look for any patterns you notice, the source of those fears (family, culture, financial, criticism, etc), and their validity. Fear is often fed by false stories making your experience seem much worse than it really is.
Lean into your fears. Figure out what it’s about, and if it is valid for the direction you are going.
Practice stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or disconnecting from the source of distress at the moment.
Shift your focus to more positive thoughts or emotions. Use your imagination or visualization to picture that same fearful experience with a positive outcome, and embrace the positive emotions you anticipate feeling with your successful outcome. The control and calm you experience during your visualization can actually help you get through the actual ordeal with more ease.
Challenge your mindset around the fear with journal prompts like the one above and other exploratory resources like the Believing Bigger Workbook for Women in Business.
Practice Compassion. Your mind is only trying to keep you safe.
If you are a Minority Woman in Business and would like consistent support and accountability on your goals, the Mastermind Group may be a fit for you.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed therapist, speaker, and Mindset Coach for high-achieving women in business. Her joy is addressing mental health on multiple levels from the boardroom to your virtual office.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you.
Being authentic is not easy, especially for women of color. They have to break norms and find the courage to walk the path less traveled while navigating perceptions of what or who they can be.
“I am not less, because I’m Black. And I am not less, because I’m a Woman.” – Marian Wright
If today is one of those days you are tired of fighting for your value, motivation is running low, or you are just looking for self-assurance, we hope to inspire you with the words of other phenomenal women of color as you continue to create the change you wish to see.
This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.
To all women who are experiencing inequalities and injustice in the pursuit of their dreams, here are a few encouraging tips:
Don’t stay where you are not valued. Think about how much time and energy you are wasting navigating that. Take a breath, and get grounded in your worth. Reassess your marketable skills and pivot.
Money isn’t everything. Your mental health and overall well-being are priceless, and your expertise is valuable.
Watch for complacency. It’s like drinking the Kool-Aid in a cult. As much as you dislike the experience and recognize the emotional exhaustion of your current situation, it’s easy to put your needs second and make yourself small for the benefit of the culture.
Find like-minded women who are willing to support you. It’s a skill to learn how to seek help and sometimes how to support each other. Research shows that women benefit from collaboration with other women professionals; however, at least 70% of female executives have experienced bullying by other women, according to the Ladders and research published in the journal Development and Learning in Organisations. Whether it happened at work or in other areas of our life, learning to heal the wounds caused by other women may be key to positioning ourselves to receive and give help again. The more we can share of ourselves with others, the more support and encouragement we receive in return.
In whatever season this finds you, I hope these positive quotes by other women of color will help you feel motivated and inspired enough to reconsider your possibilities.
“It’s time for you to move, realizing that the thing you are seeking is also seeking you.”
— Iyanla Vanzant
“You can fall, but you can rise also.”
– Angelique Kidjo
“If you prioritize yourself, you are going to save yourself.”
– Gabrielle Union
What I will say is that what I’ve learned for myself is that I don’t have to be anybody else and that myself is good enough; and that when I am being true to that self, then I can avail myself to extraordinary things. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.
“Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet.”
– Sadie Delany
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”
– Michelle Obama
“Walls turned sideways are bridges.”
“The way to win is to try.”
– Stacey Abrams
“Determine to live life with flair and laughter.”
– Maya Angelou
“When the heart is right, the mind and body will follow.”
– Coretta Scott King
“I got my start by giving myself a start.”
– Madam CJ Walker
“Only make decisions that support your self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth.”
– Oprah Winfrey
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
– Maya Angelou
“You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”
– Oprah Winfrey
”Don’t listen to those who say YOU CAN’T. Listen to the voice inside yourself that says, I CAN.”
– Shirley Chisolm
“Let nothing dim the light that shines from within.”
– Maya Angelou
“Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you.”
– Beyoncé Knowles
“I am no longer accepting “Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.”
– Janelle Monáe
“Some of your goals are buried so deep in fear it doesn’t have access to what it needs to grow”
Did you find at least one encouraging quote that resonates with you? Take that quote and say it aloud to yourself when you need a little encouragement and better yet, share it with other phenomenal women of color. Black women need to feel inspired and encouraged every day.
I’m focusing more on balance lately- emotional and physical. To help track my progress and organize my thoughts for the month I use the Well Starts Here Planner and, for ongoing support, the Goal Slayers Mastermind, a community of like-minded women of color. Those may be excellent resources for you too.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission for anything you decide to buy. We only recommend quality products, but you should do your research before making a purchase.
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.
We offer support in our 90-day Business Mastermind Intensive here and through several other coaching programs.
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.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. We only recommend quality products, but you should do your research before making a purchase.
You are amazing. You are more than enough. You are creative, talented, effective, and beautiful. Yet, so self critical.
The truth is, many of us often engage in a very critical inner dialogue flooded with “I can’t,” “should’s,” “what if’s,” or “I am not enough.” Words that play into catastrophic (imaginary) outcomes as it plays out in our minds (often in elaborate detail) and throws a wrench in our progress.
Have you ever wondered why you can be so self-critical and how to tackle the thought I am not enough?
Here’s to some deep soul searching today.
In rare cases, self-criticism can be helpful- it may give some valuable insight, but it’s rare. The problem with self-critical thoughts or that unchecked inner mean girl is it takes a direct hit at your confidence and sense of self. Unchecked, it increases your risk for stress or experiences like depression anxiety.
Don’t think your way out of how capable you are. Instead, remember that thoughts are not facts, and if you shift your thoughts, you can shift your experience.
Ten affirmations to replace critical conversations:
I am capable of doing hard things.
I am focused and persistent.
I am safe.
I am in charge of my own happiness.
I am doing the best that I can.
I am capable of creating positive change.
I am the expert in the room.
I am dismantling systems that create inequity piece by piece.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am proud of myself and all that I have accomplished.
Which of these speaks to you?
To embrace those I am’s and respond to them in meaningful ways instead of our fears, it becomes essential to explore the source of our negative thoughts. With awareness, you can gain the insights and skills to reframe self-critical thoughts, so they don’t continue as barriers as you execute your goals.
Let’s tackle I Am Not Enough
It’s one of the most common self-critical thoughts. It is often connected to early family stories, invalidating environments, traumas, or shame-based experiences that can emotionally paralyze us in real-time. For example, Mark (definitely not his name), grew up with a very old school strict father who wanted him to “man up,” a consistent message in his young life. When his eight-year-old self (the client) brought home 90’s, it would be met with, well why isn’t it a 100?
While it was never clearly stated, what is the underlying thought or belief you hear with this example?
It’s not enough.
As a developing being, if you repeatedly hear negative messages, it can quickly become internalized into this belief that no matter how hard I work, it is not enough. I have to work extra hard to be “enough” or be seen, acknowledged, or accepted. The most challenging part is that the achievement will never resolve “I am not enough.” It becomes complicated to feel or be satisfied. This dynamic around this idea of “enough,” or any self-critical thought, can consequently create space for things like anxiety, perfectionism, worry, overworking, and stress.
How do I change the I am not enough thoughts?
A significant step to change is awareness. It’s helpful to think about where the thoughts or ideas come from.
Ask yourself when does this happen to me, and begin to get curious about the experience.
Ask, why do I feel like I’m never enough? It is important here to also take a moment to acknowledge the feelings that accompany that experience. Often those same emotions you notice were never given space and were instead met with the message don’t cry, what’s wrong with you, or feelings are a sign of weakness.
Once you realize that thoughts based on your past may still be showing up to control your present, it gets easier to address them in real-time, like using the above affirmations. The key is finding the unhelpful thoughts or beliefs based on old ideas that no longer support your life and learning to reframe them. It becomes easier to like who you have become, accept you are enough, and embrace your success with new perspectives.
Reflection Point: Changing The I Am Not Enough Thoughts
Figure out the source. Spend some time unpacking your thoughts and feelings.
To help your awareness – Try journaling, meditation, or other contemplative activities to find and release the things holding you back. You can give our self-love journal a try. The prompts help you to approach self-criticism from a place of self-compassion.
Every time you have a negative or critical thought, replace it with a new thought that uplifts you and makes you feel good enough. Or repeat to yourself, I am good enough or another affirmation as mentioned above. The research suggests that affirmations can help you to perform better. Spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities can decrease stress, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of success.
A Licensed therapist and coach for high achieving women. It’s important to note when resolving complex thoughts is challenging, it is also helpful to enlist the support of a therapist or a coach.