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Tag Archives for " Negative Self-Talk "

Sep 07

3 Proven Psychological Strategies to Add Years to Your Life!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Self Improvement , Stress Management

No, we haven’t found the fountain of youth. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted a ton of research regarding how people can flourish in this life and enjoy happiness, while actually extending their lives— in both a physically and mentally healthy way. This post truly captures the essence of the three most powerful, research-based psychological strategies to make this happen – quickly and permanently!

1. Maintain optimistic expectations

Optimistic expectations can help you challenge setbacks that come your way. Neuroscientists have discovered that self-talk can actually re-wire your brain in either a very positive or very negative way, depending on whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. This re-wiring process is called “neuroplasticity.” One of the best ways of changing your thinking is to develop an optimistic interpretation of negative events that you experience.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”) involved hundreds of studies where people were trained to change their hard-wiring from reacting to disappointing events pessimistically, to reacting optimistically. Thus effectively changing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (the main contributors to depression) to hope and self-confidence helped them eliminate their feelings of depression.

Many of these studies also show when people develop an optimistic attribution of negative events, they can often recover from the physical challenges associated with chronic depression and anxiety.

So, how do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as hurdles that can be overcome?

[Tweet “Be #optimistic, laugh often—build a strong support system. Find out how to extend your life:”]

How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.” When bad things happen, pessimistically hard-wired people tell themselves such things as:

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Permanent (“It’s a permanent flaw.”)
  • Pervasive (“It’s always going to be this way for the rest of my life.”)

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

When good things happen to pessimistically hard-wired people, they view it as

  • External Cause (“It was a fluke, or luck.”)
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with this, but the rest of my life is awful.”)

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” People who are hard-wired, or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks, view them as follows:

  • External Cause (“This was a fluke and an exception to the rule of how things go with me.”)
  • Temporary (“This is a fluke occurrence. It won’t happen again.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with this, but in the rest of my life I am thriving.”)

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

People that are optimistic expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that caused this to happen.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to me.”)
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard-wired to attribute unfortunate outcomes in an optimistic sense, to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits, and change them to positive thinking.

2.  Laugh as often as possible

Research on the amazingly powerful effects of laughing on the body and mind started with the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins (“The Anatomy of an Illness”).  Cousins chronicled how he completely recovered from a terminal diagnosis by laughing out loud several times a day, for at least a few minutes each time.  He produced the humor by watching the funniest videos he could find (“The Three Stooges,” “Candid Camera,” and others) while hospitalized for his illness.

Once he saw how his pain subsided while laughing, he convinced the medical staff to take his blood pre and post laughing episodes.  The results were remarkable.

His symptoms immediately went into remission, and he helped fund massive research projects studying the power effects of laughing and having fun on brain chemistry, and the eradication of physical symptoms.  One of the more modern advocates of the power of bringing fun and humor into ones’ life is Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., a physician and the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen.

3.  Maintain a strong support system of friends and family

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans and each year close to 43,000 commit suicide in this country. Recent research into how to minimize depression without using psychotropic medication demonstrates the idea of an “Anti-Depression Toolkit.”

Three powerful tools in the toolkit are are:

a) using healthy self-talk (“linguistic nutrition”)

b) any form of spirituality, including prayer and meditation

c) frequent exercise.

However, the most important “tool” by far is having a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental support system.  While depressed individuals often lack the energy or motivation to reach out, it is a critical component of mental health. For example, widows and widowers are particularly vulnerable—having lost their soul mate, and they can slip into depression if they do not build an alternative support system. If you suffer from depression, you must also stay away from critical, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, and demanding people. You can always consult with a therapist to decide who to include and exclude from your network.

Research shows that when one has a strong support network their emotional strength grows. This means getting involved with an objective sounding board of like-minded peers, and removing yourself from the isolation that accompanies depression. Social interaction is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle.

There you have it. Do you want to build amazing resilience to stress, add joy to your life, and extend your well-being far more than you have ever dreamed? Add an optimistic and expected habit. It brings fun and laughter into each day, and nourishes your support system.

Aug 04

Simple Secrets for Using the Power of Positive Affirmations to Supercharge Your Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

Since Ruth Fishel published her classic book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days,” the power of using positive affirmations has gained much attention.  We now know from the rich research conducted in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that our belief systems and the thoughts connected with them drive our success or failure.

Much outcome research has been conducted with sales professionals. Why do some sales professionals get overwhelmed and flee the profession within a year, while others flourish and continue to build successful careers?  The answer lies in the self-talk habits that sales professionals bring with them when they first enter the profession and continue to use as they adapt to the stresses and strains of selling as a career.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations, positive or negative, are the statements we make to ourselves, based on how we interpret the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment.

All too often, our affirmations are negative and self-defeating, such as “That client said ‘no’ to the sale because I screwed up.”

Such a negative affirmation will produce serious damage to the sales professional’s confidence and self-esteem, thus leading to more “failed sales attempts,” and a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling hopeless and helpless results in continual selling failures.

The good news is that we have choices in the types of affirmations that we say to ourselves, and positive affirmations said consistently can have powerful benefits, both in career success and even your health.

World-renowned experts, such as Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of the Positive Psychology Movement, point to many cases of people overcoming devastating illnesses, using positive thinking, including repeating positive affirmations.

Dr. Seligman sites 40 years of his own research connecting sales success with affirmations that sales professionals use to maintain an attitude of optimism and gratefulness, discarding “failed” sales as flukes and focusing on the next sales opportunity.

5 Characteristics of Successful Affirmations

1. They must be positive.

The verbiage must always be positive. For example, saying, ”I am confident about my sales skills” is much better than saying “I no longer doubt myself in terms of my sales skills.”

2. The must be said with passion and gusto.

When we believe that our affirmations are true and in the present, and we repeat them with power and energy, we begin the process of conditioning our subconscious minds to actually strive toward making these beliefs true in the present.

Affirmations must be given more than lip service. When you say it with conviction, feel it by visualizing it as real, and let the wonderful feelings of having already accomplished this, then you re-program your mind and your body to accept it as part of the new you.

“I know that what I have to offer my customers will absolutely impact them in a positive way and they will thank me over and over for providing these products (or services) to them!”

[Tweet “Supercharge your #sales success with positive affirmations! Learn how here.”]

3. They must be said in the present moment.

Our subconscious minds do not know whether something is happening in reality or in our minds. For example, if you close your eyes and visualize holding a half of a lemon and see yourself taking a juicy bite out of it, you will salivate, as your subconscious mind believes this visualization is in fact really happening.  Our bodies respond to what we think about just as if it were actually happening at that moment.

So, with affirmations, be sure to state them in the most positive way and as if they are happening and real, right now. Even if you don’t know who your next prospect is, state it as if you have already met this potential customer:

“I know exactly how my product (service) will benefit this customer and if I were this customer’s best friend, I know exactly what I would say right now to convince him to buy.”

4. They must be realistic.

Giving yourself unrealistic affirmations sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Positive affirmations should reflect views of yourself and your success that are truly possible, not only in your fantasies.   For example, I cannot realistically affirm that I am becoming a famous actor or athlete, but I can affirm that I am a terrific psychologist and mentor for sales professionals.

5. They must be personal.

We can only make affirmations about ourselves, not what we want other people to be.  So, give yourself affirmations about your success as a sales professional, living out your career goals in the present.

A wonderful example of using a positive affirmation to explain ones’ success, despite missed opportunities in the past, is this quote from Michael Jordan:

I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and I have missed.  I have failed over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed!”

How to Get Started Using Positive Affirmations

  • Use your computer desktop to post your affirmations and repeat them at least 10 times a day, rotating new ones weekly
  • Use sticky notes posted on your bathroom mirror so you will begin to repeat your affirmations while brushing your teeth or brushing your hair
  • Use more sticky notes on your refrigerator, your car visor, or other places that you frequent daily
  • Use affirmations as mantras to use during meditation, while engaged in yoga and while conducting mindfulness exercises

The key to success is repetition and, as Ruth Fishel has shown, if you are consistent, you can change your life and your success in as little as 21 days!

Mar 25

Major Upsets Are Predictable in Sports

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Elite Athletes

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed and Certified Sport Psychologist

For the seventh time in NCAA tournament history — and the third time in the last two years — a 15-seed has defeated a 2-seed. Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) defeated Georgetown 78-68 in FGCU’s first-ever NCAA tournament game. And, they added to their resume by becoming the first 15th seed to get into the Sweet 16, by then beating a much higher seeded San Diego State team. You ask, “How could this happen?” How can a David beat a Goliath? ”

We see it every year in team as well as individual sports.  For example, wild card qualifiers in professional tennis (that is, someone who has won in minor tournaments, but does not have enough points to regularly enter major professional tennis tournaments) upset highly seeded, world-ranked players, who draw these seemingly easy players early in tournament play.

It’s all about the Fight/Flight/Freeze (FFF) Nervous System.

This nervous system has been passed down to all of us genetically since we lived in caves and frequently had to avoid being killed by a myriad of predators.  The system is hard-wired to switch on as soon as the subconscious mind perceives the presence of a potentially life threatening situation.

Once the system switches on, a whole host of physiological processes spring into action, each one playing a role in helping the person evade or fight off the predator. For example, arm and leg muscles quickly tighten, in order to be at full efficiency for fight or flight; the heart rate speeds up, in order to pump nutritious blood to the brain for efficiency; breathing rapidly increases, in order to rapidly bring oxygen throughout the respiratory system and quickly eliminate carbon dioxide; and adrenalin is pumped into the blood stream from the adrenal glands, in order to make the person alert and have short bursts of energy.  The key word here is “short.”  The FFF is programmed to function over a few minutes and then the body needs to rest and recover from all of these physiological changes.  If the system stays on for more than a few minutes, exhaustion is a likely consequence.

Self-Talk and the Mind-Body Connection.

Negative Self-TalkIt is a known axiom that an athlete’s performance at any given time equals her/his natural talent, minus distractions.  Distractions can be external, such as being distracted by the cheering for your opponent.  But the most common distraction all athletes face is their own internal dialogue–their self-talk. There is a broad body of research showing that thoughts translate instantly to every cell (and muscle) in the body.  Where positive thoughts “switch on” the nervous system that relaxes the body, negative thoughts “switch on” the FFF. The more the negative self-talk, the more the distractions, leading to poorer performance than the pure talent would predict.

With this in mind, think about what happens when an athlete says to himself: “I hope we don’t blow this,” or “If we lose to this team, we’ll be so embarrassed and will disappoint our conference and our fans.”  The underdog rarely has such thoughts.  He (or they) are not expected to win, so they can go out, have fun and do their best.  The pressure is all on the favorite not to choke or blow it against the underdog.  Negative thoughts are much more likely, then, to occur among the favored players.

Worry/Negative Self-talk Triggers the FFF System by Default.  Here’s the problem in a nutshell:  We humans have evolved to the point that the subconscious mind does not wait to determine if there is life threatening danger; instead, whenever a person worries or fills his/her head with negative self-talk, this triggers the FFF system. It’s as if the subconscious mind is not going to take any chances and at the first sign of worrying, it protectively triggers the FFF. Consequently, an athlete just thinking about how embarrassing it would be for the team, and how humiliating it would be for himself to lose to this huge underdog is enough to trigger the FFF System.

And…the natural consequence of switching the system on (e.g., arm and leg muscle tightening, rapid breathing, increased heart rate) leads to rapid fatigue after a few minutes.  So, imagine how this is compounded as the game moves on, the favored team or athlete is struggling, the negative thoughts magnify, the FFF stays switched on, and fatigue mounts.

This progression undermines self-confidence. and a lack of self-confidence leads to more negative self-talk, so the circle of unfortunate outcomes continues.

Preventing FFF Triggers. Teams and individual athletes all need to learn relaxation techniques to engage in prior to and especially during games. Staying relaxed, despite the circumstances, plus, keeping thoughts and expectations positive, prevents the onset of the FFF.

If negative thoughts creep in, then the athlete needs to slap his thigh, and tell himself to “Stop these thoughts immediately!” Then, he needs to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts, such as:

“I trust my skills, I will continue to play aggressively, regardless of the score. I (we) won several games before, after falling behind, so just relax, stay focused on success, and trust my skills.”

For a basketball player, here is the sequence of events that typically takes place:

  • Negative Self-Talk (e.g., fear related to losing) → Negative Emotions → Muscle Tightness → Uncomfortable Shooting Motion +Inconsistent Focus = Poorer, Inconsistent Performance 
  • Positive Self-Talk (e.g., expecting to succeed) → Positive Emotions → Relaxed Muscles → Easy, Flowing Shooting Motion + Consistent Focus  = Better, Consistent Performance

Upsets are inevitable in sports, but their frequency is certainly under the control of the favored athletes.  They must become aware of their self-talk, eliminate the negative thoughts and beliefs, change them to positive thoughts, and maintain positive expectations, quickly bouncing back from inevitable setbacks during the game.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem.

In his speaking presentations, Dr Jack teaches sales and financial services professionals the exact same skills he teaches to elite and world champion athletes to Develop & Maintain the Mindset of a Champion!

To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Mar 08

Your Game Plan for Releasing the Champion Within to Your Business

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Sales Professionals

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Professional Sport and Business Psychologist

Your Game Plan for Releasing the Champion Within to Your BusinessRunning a successful business requires the exact same skills from its managers and employees that professional sports teams require from their coaches and athletes.

To stay at the top of your game requires the three C’s: Confidence, Concentration and Control.  All three of these key elements overlap and depend on the others for ultimate business success.

  • Confidence is the single most important variable in improving your performance and it comes from positive self-talk. Recognize when you give yourself negative, self-defeating messages, such as thoughts that begin with “What if…,”  “I hope I don’t…,” or “I shouldn’t have…” I call this negative self-talk the “Internal Critic.”  For so many of us, that critical, internal voice dominates over the rational, positive, optimistic one.
  • Concentration is directly affected by your self-talk.  To run a championship-level business, you cannot be distracted by fears, worries or negative emotions, all of which incubate in negative self-talk.  A simple formula for success is: Your Performance=Your Talent +Motivation-Distractions. Keep the distractions to a minimum and your performance will always reflect your true talent.  Can you guess what the number one distraction is? That’s right…  negative self talk!
  • Control your negative self-talk, and you control your destiny!

So how does one do that, you ask? 

Here is a simple, but powerful, five step mental toughness routine that only takes a few minutes to practice each day.

  1. Wear a loosely fitting rubber band on your wrist and every time you catch yourself beginning a negative, self-defeating thought (such as, What if I fail at this endeavor?”), snap that rubber band, while telling yourself (with emphasis) to stop this silly thinking.”
  2. Take a deep, calming breath, by breathing in to the count of four through your nose, hold it for four seconds and then a big exhale from your mouth, to the count of seven.
  3. Challenge every negative thought with questions, such as Do I really have any evidence that the thing I’m afraid will happen, will actually happen or am I simply anticipating the worst?” If you challenge those thoughts, you will realize that most of your fears are just fabrications of the worst case scenario.
  4. Give yourself an “identity statement,” which is directed at boosting your self-confidence.  For example, continuously visualize yourself as having already accomplished your business dreams, and tell yourself how proud you are of your accomplishments.  When you do this consistently, you are well on your way to success. The more frequently you visualize your success as if it has already happened and continually think about it in positive terms, the more quickly your subconscious mind will actually want to make it happen for you.
  5. Complete your mental toughness routine with another deep, centering breath.

It’s simple: Practice the “three c’s” of success each day, then you will bring out the true champion within and your business will thrive!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem.

In his speaking presentations, Dr Jack teaches sales and financial services professionals the exact same skills he teaches to elite and world champion athletes to Develop & Maintain the Mindset of a Champion!

To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.