Emotionally Intelligent People Use 3 Simple Words to Stop Negative Thinking and Get Results

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How do you break out of the cycle of negative thinking and focus on getting results? Sometimes, this phrase is all you need.

I got frustrated yesterday.

My wife and I run a business together, and yesterday was a typical morning. We started with a cup of coffee, and although I don’t like to talk business every morning, I had something on my mind and I wanted her opinion. So I started with a lame joke that I just knew would get her attention. It reminded her of her own joke, which she shared, and we both laughed.

But then, things got weird. I wasn’t sure how to restart the conversation. As I sat there and thought about it, I was hoping she’d ask me to go on. She didn’t.

Then, things got weirder.

A few minutes later, she made an innocent comment that triggered a rush of negative thoughts to go through my head.

Thoughts like:

  • I guess she doesn’t really want to hear about this.
  • I guess our work isn’t so important to her.
  • I guess I’m not so important to her.

The problem with this thinking is none of it is true. It’s a false narrative I created in my head, based on an emotional reaction that prevents me from reaching a goal: getting my wife’s opinion on something I consider important to the business.

In reality, my wife did want to hear what I had to say. She did want to give me feedback. She just got distracted with our baby and toddler as I sat there forming stories in my head…

Instead of continuing with her in real life.

To help break me out of it, I used an emotionally intelligent technique that breaks me out of a cycle of negative thinking, and helps me focus on getting results.

I like to call this technique:

Back to reality.

How can those three words help in the day-to-day of running your business, both at work and at home? Let’s break it all down. (If you enjoy this article, you might want to sign up for my free course, which uses storytelling and scientific research to help you build emotional intelligence.)

How “Back to Reality” helps you stop negative thinking and get results

Maybe you can relate to this story. When you get slightly frustrated or irritated, you might think up all kinds of scenarios that may or may not be true, and are often times characterized by exaggeration, oversimplification, overgeneralization, unexamined and illogical assumptions, faulty deductions, or similar.

Thoughts like these don’t help and often work against you and your chances of achieving your goals.

So, how do you fight that tendency?

Remind yourself you have to get back…

Back to reality.

That’s what I was able to do yesterday. I could have continued to focus on my irrational beliefs, which would have derailed my day and put a wedge between my wife and me….

Or I could acknowledge that those beliefs are not only irrational, they’re unproductive. And that there are plenty of other reasons why my wife could have gotten distracted (kids stealing attention, my wife having her own plans for the day to worry about, etc.).

How can you use this principle in your own life?

The application to your personal relationships is obvious, but you could apply this to your business as well.

For example:

  • A colleague says something, and it sounds like a dig at you.
  • You walk into a room and everyone is talking, but they stop when you walk in.
  • Someone gives you constructive criticism, and you’re hurt.

In each of these scenarios, you have to snap yourself back to reality. You must force yourself to acknowledge:

  1. Maybe I misunderstood. And even if it was a dig, it’s not so bad. I can overlook it.
  2. It was probably just a natural pause in conversation. And even if they were talking about me, it’s not helpful to think about it now. I can either forget about it or ask one of them later one to one.
  3. This criticism hurts — but maybe there’s some truth to it. Can I get past my feelings and try to benefit from it?

So… the next time you get stuck in a moment, remember that you don’t have to stay stuck.

Because reality is moving forward. Better that you move along with it.