Using Negative Moments to Strengthen the Positive Self Image

If you had $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset enough to throw the remaining $86,390 away? Of course not. We have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let a negative 10 seconds ruin your entire day – let alone your entire week.

This reasoning makes its rounds across the internet fairly often. You may have even seen it before. It’s a nice feel good moment – but it’s also much easier said than done.

Negative moments tend to trigger our fight or flight response, which can escalate quickly in… less than ideal ways.

So this begs the question:

How do you properly respond to those negative 10 seconds?

The simple answer is to have a very strong positive self image and focus on the positive.

When you’re confident in who you are and what your value is, the blip of a problem or of a cutting remark won’t impact you at all. This is the power of Point #1 on my philosophy of Living Positively.

How do we use the negative to build our positive self image?

Unfortunately, building a strong, positive self image isn’t something you can achieve with a wiggle of your nose. It requires a lot of work over a long time to build that confidence and security in yourself.

Thankfully, those 10 seconds of negativity can be a good tool to build a positive self image. This is where Point #2 of my philosophy of Living Positively and Leading Positively comes into play.

First, quickly analyze what was said and why it hurt. Did someone question your skill? Your personality? Your accomplishment? Why did the comment hurt you?

Be quick with this step. Don’t dwell on the negative – only spend just enough to analyze and understand the negative. No more, no less.

Once the issue is cataloged and understood, we will focus intently on the positive – we’re going to find and focus on successes. Something that has happened in the past or something we can control and use to create a success in the future. 

Use these past successes to counter the negative point with a concrete and indisputable fact about yourself. Point to something you’ve accomplished. A compliment someone gave you. Or even recognize that you aren’t perfect, but you have made improvements over time.

Find a success, any success, and focus intently on it.

The more you dwell on your successes, the more they will ingrain into your positive self image, slowly building your confidence. This will compound on itself with ever increasing momentum over time, strengthening the positive self image.

It’s similarly very effective to create successes. Find something you know you can accomplish and complete it – even if it is as simple as cleaning the kitchen. Creating an accomplishment makes you feel good about who you are and what you’ve done, which staves off negativity and boosts your positive self image.

Eventually, external negativity will barely register.

How do we build a positive self image in others?

Believe it or not, building a positive self image in others is a great way to build it in yourself! Plus there’s the whole “make the world a better place” side of things, which is also cool.

But where things get interesting is in how the brain interprets positivity. The brain weirdly has a difficult time differentiating between emotions you feel towards yourself and towards others. This means when you exude positivity upon others, the brain gets its happy chemicals in pretty much the same way as when you pour positivity on yourself.

This means you should always avoid negativity towards others and instead emphasize the positive. The more angry and frustrated you get towards others, the worse your state of mind gets and your positive self image is indirectly harmed. Your demeanor towards others is very closely correlated towards your demeanor towards yourself. So be careful how you act outward to the people around you.

So how do we do this towards others? Easy – the methods for emphasizing the positive towards others are conveniently the same as emphasizing the positive towards yourself.

Focus on the successes – even create successes when possible.

When interacting with others, particularly when it’s people who report to you – always try to be a positive influence that pushes people forward. Always find those successes and emphasize them whenever possible.

Seek out opportunities to structure everyone’s workdays with quick wins in the morning to create successes in the morning. Assign tasks and encourage the team to start days with quick wins. Even if it’s sub tasks within the major task. Find something to complete to create a moment of, “I did that.” Doesn’t matter if it’s small – the feeling of accomplishment is powerful and should be emphasized at every opportunity.

Others will frequently say things like, “yeah but…” and then focus on the negative. It’s your job as a Positive Leader to redirect that energy and the discussion back onto successes, past and future. When someone says “yeah but… this didn’t work out well…” immediately fire back with “yeah but… these things did work out well!”

Find successes. Create successes. Point to successes that are currently being worked on but will be completed soon.

Create future successes

I touched on it earlier. But there’s another way to trick the brain to boost positive self images.

Just like how the brain has difficulty differentiating between emotions towards yourself and towards others, the brain has difficulty differentiating between past and future successes. If you can get yourself and your team hyped about how good it’s going to feel when a task is accomplished… everyone will get those happy chemicals in their brain almost as if it’s already been completed.

As a leader, you have a tremendous amount of influence on the mental state of your team.

It is the responsibility of every leader to improve the lives of their team.

In my opinion, using positivity and obsessively focusing on successes is one of the easiest and most effective ways of doing so.

Build everyone’s positive self image around you. The world will be a better place for it!

Be Consistent

Every action we take changes who we are – for the better or worse.

Even the small actions slowly change who we are – they slowly change the core of our character day by day, week by week, year by year.

Reinforcing a positive self image in ourselves and those around us isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. Depending on where you are today, it could take a lot of time.

I strongly recommend getting a spouse, significant other, or friend on board with these efforts so y’all can work together, helping each other out, boosting positivity, and reinforcing each other’s self image. It’s much easier working together.

Change at this core level of yourself takes time and consistency – but the results are well worth it.

Every time you focus on the negative, you damage the positive self image and reverse progress.

Every time you focus on the positive, you reinforce the positive self image and push progress forward.

The power of positivity can change your entire demeanor, boost your productivity, and make you much more effective at interacting with others. I can say that with confidence as I used to be a rather negative person in years back and have noticed a major difference in myself and how people interact with me by rewiring myself into a positive person.