27 September 2023

Toxic self-thoughts we all need to avoid

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Travis Bradberry* says emotionally intelligent people don’t allow negative thoughts to dominate their lives.

Your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can make or break your career.

When you make a mistake, they either magnify the negativity or help you turn that misstep into something productive.

Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating.

It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of.

All self-talk is driven by important beliefs you hold about yourself.

It plays an understated but powerful role in success because it can spur you forward to achieve your goals or hold you back.

I’ve tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than two million people and found that 90 per cent of top performers are high in EQ.

These successful, high EQ individuals possess an important skill — the ability to recognise and control negative self-talk.

They earn more than their low EQ peers, get promoted more often, and receive higher marks on performance evaluations.

When it comes to self-talk, I’ve discovered some common thoughts that hold people back more than any others.

Be mindful of your tendencies to succumb to these thoughts, so they don’t derail your career.

Perfection equals success

Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible.

When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

My destiny is predetermined

Far too many people succumb to the highly irrational idea that they are destined to succeed or fail.

Make no mistake about it, your destiny is in your own hands, and blaming multiple successes or failures on forces beyond your control is nothing more than a cop out.

Sometimes life will deal you difficult cards to play, and other times you’ll be holding aces.

Your willingness to give your all in playing any hand you’re holding determines your ultimate success or failure in life.

I ‘always’ or ‘never’ do that

There isn’t anything in life that you always or never do.

You may do something a lot or not do something enough, but framing your behaviour in terms of ‘always’ or ‘never’ is a form of self-pity.

It makes you believe that you have no control over yourself and will never change.

Don’t succumb to it.

I succeed when others approve of me

Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain — you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

It’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, but you can take people’s opinions with a grain of salt.

That way, no matter what people think about you, your self-worth comes only from within.

My past equals my future

Repeated failures can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future.

Most of the time, these failures result from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy.

Just remember that success lies in your ability to rise in the face of failure.

Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed.

I hope these lessons are as useful to you as they have been to me over the years.

As I write them, I’m reminded of their power and my desire to use them every day.

What other toxic thoughts do successful people quarantine?

*Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart. He can be contacted at talentsmart.com.

This article first appeared at talentsmart.com.

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