November 6, 2008

Thought Trap #4: Discounting the positive

Thought Trap #4: Discounting the positive

Continuing on in the series on Thought Traps.

You reject positive experiences by insisting they don't count. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences (for example, making excuses when someone gives you a compliment). You often react by putting yourself down.

Do you find yourself discounting your public speaking successes?

When someone praises you for a job well done, you might say, "They just don't know what a good speaker sounds like," or "They just have low standards," or "Anyone could have done it -- I just threw it together."

It's important for you to acknowledge when you do well, because you learn from doing well just like you learn from mistakes.

Look back at your presentation and think about the moments when you were really connecting with the audience. Think about the moments when they were totally engaged. Think about what made them smile, laugh, or raise their hands to ask questions.

Can you incorporate more moments like those? Can you remember what you did so you can do it again next time?

Giving a good presentation is rarely a matter of luck. It comes about through a combination of preparation, connection, awareness, value, authenticity and passion.

Looking for what you've done well and striving to repeat it has nothing to do with "getting a big head" or being "full of yourself." You're not conceited, arrogant, or vain for making note of your success.

It's okay to embrace and celebrate your successes and remember your accomplishments. Acknowledging what you've done well will help you become a better speaker.

Here again, suggestions on how to approach these negative thoughts once you become aware of them (from a Mother Jones article about cognitive therapy and thought traps):

1. Write it down. Writing automatically provides perspective and helps reveal distorted thinking.

2. Identify the distressing event. What's really bothering you?

3. Identify your negative emotions.

4. Identify the negative thoughts tied to your emotions.

5. Identify distortions and substitute the truth.

And my addition:

6. Take action. What will you do differently next time?

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

I have climbed to the highest levels in my arena twice, but never attained the ultimate goal. Others see it as an astounding feat - one they would gladly take. But I see it as less than perfect.

I'm working hard at looking at the glass as 5/6 full, instead of 1/6 empty.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

It's always shocking when we hear successful people discounting their positive achievements. For whatever reason and whatever conditioning we've received, sometimes it's just difficult to accept the good things in our lives.

This thought trap is definitely linked to perfectionism.

Something to work on, as I know you are!

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