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  • Tom Goldstein

Getting to 'Yes': Cultivating a New Mindset of Possibility

In today's fast-paced society, many of us have unwittingly conditioned ourselves into a default mode of negative thinking. The immediate reaction to new ideas, experiences, or even simple requests often tends to be a knee-jerk 'no'. Understanding this pervasive mindset is the first step towards navigating away from it.

Habitual negative thinking, as its name suggests, is a repetitive cycle of pessimistic thoughts. While it might seem benign at first, it's deeply rooted in our upbringing, personal experiences, and societal influences. There's also the brain's inherent negativity bias to consider. This bias, a vestige from our evolutionary past, was essential for our survival—allowing our ancestors to quickly spot dangers and avoid potential threats. But in the modern world, this bias can often be more of a hindrance than a help.

There's a tangible cost to perpetually leaning towards 'no'. Opportunities for growth, joy, and meaningful experiences get sidestepped. Our relationships can suffer, as loved ones and colleagues perceive us as perpetually pessimistic or unapproachable. Then, there's the undeniable toll on our mental health, feeding into cycles of stress, anxiety, or even depression.

It's also worth noting why our brains seem to prefer this negative slant. Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains strengthen the pathways that we use most often. So, if we consistently dwell on negative thoughts, we're essentially reinforcing those neural pathways, making negativity our brain's default setting. Combine this with a modern media landscape that often amplifies fears and concerns, and it's no surprise that positivity can feel like an uphill battle.

But all is not lost. The brain, with its amazing adaptability, can be retrained. The journey from habitual 'no' to a more considered 'yes' begins with self-awareness. Recognising when we're in a negative spiral is crucial. From there, we can challenge these thoughts, reframing them and seeking alternative, more optimistic perspectives.

Yes, and…

Personally I believe it’s invaluable to add a pivot that allows us to say yes while also opening the door to negotiate exactly what that yes looks like. The trick is to add the word ‘and’. Yes, and… gives us the opportunity to add ideas that compliment or even augment what we are agreeing to. This way we not only buy into the other person’s idea and momentum, but together we craft an even more amazing way forward, all the time building momentum and value.

As Tony Robbins says:

Shift your state, shift your story, shift your plan, in that order!

Find your way to shift your energy, your mental and emotional state so that you are more open to asking “what would it take to say yes?”. That way you can move into a story of being open to yes and new possibilities, escaping whatever habitual pattern you have of seeing why something won’t work.

By grounding ourselves in the present moment, we can observe our thoughts without becoming entangled in them, granting us the clarity to choose positivity. Additionally, positive affirmations can help recalibrate our thought patterns. By routinely reminding ourselves of positive truths, we can combat and counteract our ingrained negative self-talk.

Moreover, a simple gratitude practice can shift our focus. Instead of concentrating on what we perceive as lacking in our lives, we appreciate the abundance around us. This change in perspective is more than just feel-good advice; it's backed by research showing that gratitude can significantly boost our overall happiness and well-being.

Curiosity is such an important aspect of this shift. When we are curious about the possibility, curious to to try something new, perhaps even just for the fun of it, then we open ourselves up to a whole new world where we let go of what we already know and expect. This is the place of true growth and potential, beyond what we have already experienced.

We've all heard tales of individuals who've shifted their mindset, who've stepped beyond their comfort zones to embrace the power of 'yes'. These aren’t just feel-good stories; they're testaments to the tangible benefits of positive thinking. By saying 'yes' more often, we open ourselves to new experiences, foster deeper relationships, and allow ourselves the chance to grow in ways we hadn't previously imagined.

In closing

Let's remember that change is gradual. It's about the journey, not a sudden overhaul. So, why not start today? Try saying 'yes' to something outside your norm this week. See where it leads you, observe the changes in your attitude, and relish in the newfound opportunities that positive thinking can bring.

Feeling inspired to challenge your habitual thinking and eager to say 'yes' more often? As a life coach, I’m here to support, guide, and empower you through this transformative journey. Reach out, and let's cultivate your positive mindset together.


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