Don’t Waste Energy on Negativity

Worry is a misuse of imagination – Dan Zadra

On my blog, Motivation for Creation, I have posted quite a bit about self-doubt. Self-doubt is one of those plentiful emotions we all have, which kills creativity and destroys dreams.  Insidious in nature, one little negative thought worms its way into our psyche and leaves us confused of what our true abilities are.

Self-doubt is worry turned inward.  We worry we can’t do what is required to be successful and reach our goals.  We worry we aren’t as good as we thought.  We worry we bit off more than we can chew.  We worry we’re going to fail, and look stupid.  We may even worry that other people are laughing at us.

Think of all that energy we waste dwelling on… well, nothing, really.  All that worry is nothing but a bunch of electrical impulses in the synapses of our brains, a waste of imagination.

It all boils down to choices.

When we experience failure or rejection from outside of ourselves, which is usually the trigger to our self-doubt, we have a choice.

We can quit, or we can go on.

It really is that simple.

If we choose to continue to work to meet our goals, then we need to tell the little nasty inner critic to shut up.  Listening to the voice does us no good.  It only slows us down, or gives us indigestion.  Or both.

There are many different techniques to end bad habits, which is what listening to self-doubt is.  The technique I find most helpful is:

  1. Identify the negative thought.
  2. Tell it to shut up.
  3. Replace the negative thought with a positive one.
  4. Distract myself, often by doing something that will help me to reach the very goal I’m feeling insecure about.

Yes, it seems too simple.  However, it’s cognitive therapy.  It works.

Our minds really do believe what we tell it.  So, let’s stop wasting our imaginations.  Let’s be positive, and hopeful, and optimistic about ourselves and our abilities.  Let’s give ourselves every opportunity to be successful, and feel good getting there, as well!

Do you have any tricks to banishing negative thoughts?


If you missed Gary Gauthier’s post on Wednesday, please scroll down and check it out.  He never disappoints!  Also, next Wednesday (June 13th) Jess Witkins is scheduled to post, so be sure to come back then!


26 responses to “Don’t Waste Energy on Negativity

  1. You had me at “worry… is a waste of imagination! Don’t know how I hadn’t figured that one out, but how right you are, Lara 🙂

    (Stands, brushes off cookie crumbs and places hands on hips)

    YES! We should use our imagination for good, positive things and not waste it on worry… (jumps on angry-looking quarter horse…)

    WHO’S WITH ME!!!

    (Gallops off to weed out worry and protect positivity…)

  2. I’m with you, Mark! I don’t have an angry-looking quarter horse, though!

    I love that quote. I actually found it several months ago and have been waiting to use it. I had the same “Oh, yeah. I guess that’s true.” reaction you did!

  3. Great post, Lara. It’s so true– that negative voice stomps on our creativity and sucks the fun dry. This is good stuff to remember and I love that quote, too! I’m going to steal it one day soon.

    • Thanks, Denise, and thanks for stopping by! You can take any quote you want 😉 I love quotes. I figure why try to say something when it’s already been said by someone much more eloquent than me!

  4. Lara, this post is so close to what I’ve been thinking lately. Thanks for the reinforcement. As Winnie-the-Pooh says, Think, think, think (positive).

  5. Great advice, Lara. If I don’t watch myself, sometimes I can spend a whole day thinking bad thoughts! Who wants to spend all that energy and end up feeling lousy anyway? Your suggestion is like getting rid of bad thought habits and replacing them with good ones.

  6. Along the lines of telling it to shut up, I like to tell mine to go sit in the corner.

  7. I wave a dead chicken and some pulverized bat wings over my self-doubt and negative feelings. Then I dance around a little bit with my headdress on. I’m actually pretty self-assured – if I’m having a bad time or bad feelings, I stop and think about WHY. Is it too much work? Too much messing around on FB? Is it a toxic person? Is it me putting too much pressure on myself? Once it’s identified, it is easier to deal with. Then to make it “be gone!”

    • Facebook has gained importance to me this spring, so I can understand that issue. 😉

      Good point to examine why you might be feeling negative. Hopefully most people aren’t like me and over-analyze everything to death. I think that’s why I choose to use a quick and dirty “shut-up.”

      Good for you, being self-assured. I need to figure out how to be like you!

  8. I had a few negative thoughts while driving in a hail storm the other night. It was a wonderful test on “not worrying,” because there was nothing I could do except drive and keep moving forward. 🙂

  9. Something Fast Draft has taught me is how hard I am on myself. One of the rules is that you can’t go back and read what you wrote the day before. You just take good notes and move forward. By editing the work you’ve already done over and over you may never move forward. Now I’m actually getting down the whole story and not just the first chapter again and again.

    • Wow! I missed a ton of comments! So sorry I’m so slow! I totally agree, Jess! That rewriting to get something “right” can stop, or at least slow, forward progress. For me, I have to take a leap of faith that it’s good enough and then go back later and “fix it”.

      Something else I had to do adjust to when I wrote the first draft of my novel was not showing anyone my work. With short stories, I could have my husband read it, and be my back up feel-goodinator (all those hours I watch Phineas and Ferb are showing). Not having someone give me positives all the time meant I had to let it go and again have the faith that I knew what I was doing. It was hard to start with, but eventually I got used to it. 🙂

  10. Great thoughts, Lara – I’m a little relieved to know I’m not the only one, and it’s good to get a reminder on the power of positive thinking!

  11. Worry is a waste–especially when you can’t control a situation. Negative thoughts create more negativity. We just have to accept what we have to work with and keep moving forward. Great post, Lara!

    • Thanks, Marcia. I love “We just have to accept what we have to work with and keep moving forward.” Worrying about what we might lack definitely doesn’t help get anything done, for sure!

  12. Lara, you’re amazing! This is such sound advice. Everyone needs to read this. We really can make or break things in our lives. We really can change our negative feelings and thoughts. And it’s SO IMPORTANT that we do. I love your tips for doing this. Identifying the problem thought or feeling really is the first major step. Thanks so much for sharing! I always love something inspirational and uplifting!

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  14. We talked about something similar at a workshop I went to recently on the job. While the context there was about getting better at dealing with workplace problems, I’ve been trying to apply the principle to my everyday and writer’s life too. We talked about “resetting our zeros.” Basically, we were asked to plot the things we’re good at as well as what we think we’re not so good at on a scale of -5 through +5. Then we were told to change those numbers to 1-10 and look at the scale again. All the sudden, we don’t COMPLETELY suck at something, we’re just not quite as good at it as we are other things. And since we aren’t “in the negatives,” we CAN do it – we just need to figure out how to get better at it and take on the challenge. The whole thing is hard to explain without the visual, but it really hit home for me!

    • We call that reframing in social work – taking a belief and “reframing” it into a more positive approach. Most of us aren’t complete failures at anything. And, just thinking about it, we feel more terrible about our abilities when we compare ourselves to other people. I love the idea of resetting our zeros!

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