How to Overcome Negative Thoughts

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This video is all about how to overcome negative thoughts.

In the last video we talked about why as humans, we’ve evolved to have a negative voice in our heads. This negative voice served us well back in caveman times, but tends to hold us back in life nowadays.

Essentially what’s happening is your brain constantly assesses your options in every situation and makes a risk/reward assessment of each one. Based on the result of this, it then decides what to do.

How does it make this assessment? Well, it looks at what happened to you in similar situations before. And a lot of this goes back to your childhood.

As a young child, you probably touched a hot stove at some point – and you no doubt very quickly recoiled. Your brain learned instantly that touching the stove hurts – a lot. So you don’t do it again! Now, when you see a hot stove, you automatically feel a sense of caution.

In the case of the hot stove, it’s good that your brain learns this fast – otherwise you’d be getting burned constantly. The problem comes when the result is less clear cut – like approaching a woman you don’t know, or delivering an important presentation. Let’s say you asked a girl out when you were 14 and she humiliated you in front of the entire school. Your brain quickly learns ‘girls are mean and scary…and they don’t like you.’

Again, your brain is protecting you from danger – however, it’s not always great at assessing what represents genuine danger and what’s actually harmless.

So now you see an attractive woman and your brain is in conflict. You really want to meet her, but at the same time your subconscious mind is screaming ‘danger!’ Not only that, if your experiences with attractive women have mostly been bad – they either haven’t been interested in you, or even if they were, you couldn’t keep them interested – you’ll find that your brain not only thinks women are scary and dangerous, it believes they won’t be interested in you anyway.

Not surprisingly, you end up in a state of apathy where you think ‘what’s the point in trying because whatever I do, it won’t work out in the end.’ You can probably think of occasions – not just with women – where you’ve felt like this.

So how do we deal with this? Well, the wrong way is to feel frustrated with ourselves. The wrong way is to try and bully and shame ourselves into taking action.

How well did that work in terms of making you change your behaviour for next time?

Instead, what we have to do is give our critical subconscious mind reasons to believe we are worthy.

This process starts with acceptance. Think about anything scary in your life – for example, having to give a best man speech at a wedding. What’s the worst case scenario here? Maybe you’re sweating and super nervous. You’re fumbling over your words. You try to make a joke but it comes out wrong and nobody laughs. Everybody is staring at you and judging. Secretly sniggering thinking about what a worthless loser you are. Waiting for the speech to be over so they can laugh at you behind your back.

Now my question to you is simply – can you accept this? There are many possible outcomes of giving this speech, but this is probably the worst. Can you accept that although this isn’t the outcome you would choose, if it happens, so be it. Life will go on and it won’t impact you all that badly in the long run.

This mentality won’t remove your nerves completely, but it will take away that life-or-death feeling of ‘oh my god, this has to go well.’ You gain a sense of perspective. If you give the speech and if everyone loves it, great. If not, also fine. If you go and speak to the attractive woman at the bar and she likes you, great. If not, also fine. You wouldn’t choose the scenario where she throws a drink in your face, but at the same time you can accept it as a possible outcome.

When you can genuinely accept these worst case scenarios, you’ll start to find your anxiety and nerves dropping away. Because you know that no matter what happens, you can handle it.

This will allow you to put yourself in more of these scary situations you’re avoiding right now. As you do that, you’ll start becoming more competent in these situations, which will lead to you getting better results. As you get better results, your subconscious will see this and think ‘looks like this guy is attractive to women after all’. ‘Looks like this guy can make a great speech after all.’

What you then find is your general confidence with new situations improves. Because your subconscious sees you throwing yourself into all these new situations and even when things don’t go to plan, nothing truly ‘bad’ happens. You then start to believe ‘I can handle any situation’.