February 19, 2008

Let go of the negative



Yesterday we got locked out of the house. We walked outside for a second, closing the door just enough so the cats wouldn't get out, but not enough to latch it. Wrong. Oops.

It was cold and we were in t-shirts. Our neighbor, who keeps a key to our house, wasn't home.

Our typical strategy is for my husband to climb through the bathroom window, provided it's cracked open enough to pop out the screen and reach the crank. Luckily it was, but we had just replaced the crank over the weekend and thought it might be too tight to jimmy open.

Throughout this adventure, I kept hearing myself saying things like, "It's a good thing it's not raining," and "It's a good thing it's almost time for [our neighbor] to come home" (she didn't actually get home from work until three hours later), and "It's a good thing we left the window open."

As he pulled himself up into the open window, my husband said, "It's a good thing I can still do this."

The whole ordeal lasted about fifteen minutes, and we were soon back in our warm house, laughing at our mishap.

When you're in a tense situation, do you imagine the worst or do you focus on the positives?

Optimist or pessimist?

I may only have mentioned this once, but I'm an optimist. I'm "one who usually expects a favorable outcome." And I do believe in the power of positive thinking.

As a speaker and as a coach, optimism is a necessity. In a coaching situation, I'm frequently the optimist for both of us.

The anxiety speakers feel before a presentation is a natural part of the preparation process, and is there for a reason. But for a lot of inexperienced speakers, this anxiety feels like a bad thing. It feels like it will never go away. And the discomfort is prohibitive.

Expect the best

If you don't consider yourself an optimist, go ahead and try it anyway. Practice visualizing successful presentations as part of your preparation. Create affirmations for yourself that reinforce your success.

Expecting a favorable outcome rather than anticipating the worst is going to make you a more relaxed speaker, a better speaker, a less suspicious speaker. You'll have more fun and, even if things don't go exactly as you'd like them to, you'll still be able to see the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Let go of the negative - let the positive in!

(Thanks to uglyhero for this great photo!)

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Matthew Cornell said...

Easily said, extremely difficult (for me) to do. Good ideas, though! Have you read Martin Seligman's work on Learned Optimism?

http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2005/11/handling-worries-keep-list-schedule.html
http://www.eqtoday.com/optimism/seligman.html
http://www.amazon.com/Learned-Optimism-Change-Your-Mind/dp/0671019112

Lisa Braithwaite said...

It's actually a little hard for me to relate to my own post here, because I'm naturally optimistic, and I have a really hard time staying negative about anything. I guess some of us have to work harder to cultivate that.

Some people say, "I'm not negative, I'm realistic." Bah humbug, I reply!

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