I read one line of an article and was so annoyed I just had to write this post in response. The line read: “The most confident individuals are able to avoid negative self-talk…”
I am one of the most confident people I know and I’m also really good at negative self-talk. I am so hard on myself sometimes, I could make myself cry. OK, that might be an exaggeration but come on, who doesn’t doubt themselves, and occasionally beat themselves up?
Negativity is balance to an over-confident idealist who believes they can do anything. Through negative self-talk I can explore and understand my own deficiencies. I can come up with all the reasons I’ll fail and then I can convince myself I’m wrong. If I can’t convince myself that I’m wrong, then I’m probably right.
I would say that confident individuals don’t avoid negative self-talk, they use it to gain a better understanding of themselves, to become more self-aware. What confident people do is not let the negativity win. Avoiding negative self-talk completely, sounds a lot like delusion to me.
Not only do I not avoid negative thoughts, I also try to find the negative aspects of success. Sounds pretty pessimistic of me but what it does is help me understand how I could have been better. For example: I just sold a business. The business was profitable and successful in many ways but I know it could have been better. Instead of patting myself on the back, I’m looking for the areas where I didn’t do so well so that next time (I promised my wife there wouldn’t be a next time) I’ll be a much stronger businessman or, maybe, I can just offer better advice.
Where has that negative self-talk (I call it honest assessment) taken me? To the realization that I need to be a better evangelist, I need to communicate my excitement in a way that will excite others. There were times I was able to do that but I know I could have been better. Without the negativity I would blame all my failings on my employees. They share some of that blame but not all of it. The negative self-talk helped me realize my deficiency.
How do you handle negativity in general and negative self-talk specifically?