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Are Your Negative Thoughts Limiting Your Small Business Success?

Are Your Negative Thoughts Limiting Your Small Business Success?

This article is one in the multi-part series entitled The Entrepreneurial Mindset.

Admittedly, we all have those days when we can’t see a good thing when it is standing right before us. Some of us have even had those weeks. Maybe your clients aren’t paying their invoices on time or business is slowing and you don’t know why. Perhaps it is something going on at home that has crept into your work life, making your outlook more dismal and grey than you’d like.

While it is completely natural to feel somewhat negative every now and again, to not be able to see the positive side of life for any length of time can have some unpleasant effects. Effects that may possibly be limiting the success of your business.

The Effects of Negative Thinking

Negative thinking has been linked to higher rates of depression, poorer immune system function, greater risk of disease, and even a shorter life. Why is this way of thinking so damaging to your body and mind?

The Mayo Clinic points out that the possible reason that positive thinkers seem to fare so much better with greater mental statuses, better health, and more longevity could partially be due to their greater ability to handle stress. And as a small business owner, you know how much additional stress being self-employed can have on your life.

Unlike the rest of the world that reports to a job for a predetermined 8 or 9 hour shift, you are never off the clock. You often eat while working (if you eat at all), your social life dwindles to being almost non-existent, and your income goes up and down like the tide.

This can all add up over time, which means that you need to find a way to let it go before it takes a toll on you personally as well as professionally. And, as it turns out, one way to do that is to increase your positivity. How do you do that?

How to Become More Positive

Certainly, I am not going to sit here and suggest that you pretend that life is grand and that nothing can get you down because that is just unrealistic. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you can do to have a more optimistic outlook on life.

Here are some to consider, courtesy of the Tiny Buddha:

  • Remember that your attitude is determined by you. Although what happens in the world around you can have an impact on your demeanor, ultimately it is up to you whether you choose to be happy or sad. Therefore, make a conscious decision to be more positive regardless of how others choose to be. Speaking of others…
  • Remove negative influences. If there are people in your life contributing to your negativity, either let them go or find a way to create some distance. And if that overly negative person is you, then look to eliminate behaviors that are counterproductive to your positivity (such as not talking bad about others or no longer dealing with negative emotions with drugs or alcohol)
  • Find the good things in life. Spend more of your time focused on the good things in your life rather than concentrating on the things that aren’t where you’d like them to be and you will feel happier as a result. Celebrate your friends, family, health, wealth, abilities, accomplishments, and everything else that brings you joy.
  • Radiate positivity. Don’t let yourself get caught up in everyone else’s drama and negativity. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of life, talking about them and sharing them with others. By encouraging those around you to be positive, you will continue to remind yourself to do the same.

Be Positive, But Also Be Real

Now, does this mean that being a positive thinker means that you will defy the odds and have small business success no matter what you do? Of course not. As Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at New York University and the University Hamburg wrote in her article titled “The Problem With Positive Thinking” published by The New York Times, always thinking positive thoughts can actually reduce the energy you have for obtaining the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Her basis is simple: constantly looking on the bright side of things and thinking as if you’ve already accomplished your goals fools your mind into thinking that nothing else needs to be done. This can severely limit your drive and cause you to lay back and relax when you really should be foraging ahead.

Dr. Oettingen says that in order to reach your goals, it “requires a balanced and moderate approach, neither dwelling on the downsides nor a forced jumping for joy.” She recommends doing something called “mental contrasting” which involves imagining what you want to see happen and then thinking realistically about the obstacles that you must cross in order to achieve that goal.

This keeps you grounded while also allowing you to be positive at the same time. Try it and see how it works. What do you have to lose, other than negativity, that is?

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.