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You Can Train Your Brain to Be More Positive with These Steps

The clients I work with tend to have a few things in common: they are smart, ambitious, and highly motivated. Most of them are also stressed to the max.

From the outside, they appear powerful and poised. But on the inside, they worry about their ability to deal with the demands that come along with having a successful career.

If you’re a top-performer, you can probably relate. In fact, statistics show pressure at work is the leading source of chronic stress among American adults. Having confidence in your ability to conquer challenges is essential to thriving in today’s business world. The good news is that this brand of mental resiliency can be cultivated.

The Power of Explanatory Style

Each of us has our own explanatory style — a way we explain why good or bad things happen.

Research by positive psychology expert Martin Seligman finds that people generally fall into two categories:

  1. Entrepreneurs with a pessimistic explanatory style tend to blame themselves when things go wrong and see negative events as both permanent and pervasive.
  2. Those with an optimistic explanatory style view setbacks as temporary and solvable. Because they have faced challenges before, they have confidence in their ability to do it again. They see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Honing your psychological resiliency can be a valuable business asset. Those with a positive explanatory style are more successful. They outperform pessimistic peers by close to 40 percent in business and sales, and also experience lower rates of illness and depression.

Tips to Boost Your Resiliency

As the research shows, your explanatory style can greatly impact your health, happiness, productivity, and your bottom line. It’s possible to shift your explanatory style and react to challenging situations in ways that are more constructive.

Pay Attention to Your Beliefs

Does your inner dialogue sound anything like this?

  • Things always go wrong.
  • I’m a total failure.
  • Business will never get better.

These are examples of cognitive distortions, and although they are common, they can make you feel powerless. In other words, your explanatory style at work not only affects how you feel about things, but also how you take action on them.

If you want to alter your explanatory style, start by changing the way you talk to yourself about stressful experiences.

Ban catastrophic language such as “always” or “never” from your vocabulary. When you catch yourself engaging in defeatist thinking such as “I’m not good at this” or similar self-criticism, employ the power of possibility: “I can’t do this — yet. But I sure can learn how.”

Build Your Resiliency Muscle

When you’re faced with a setback, such as losing an important client, practice viewing it through the lens of an optimistic explanatory style.

Look at what evidence you have that this situation is temporary, specific, and external. For instance, identify external factors that may have contributed to the client leaving, such as a change in their revenues.

If you accuse yourself of “always procrastinating,” generate examples of instances
where you worked hard and spent a lot of time preparing for a project–and saw that effort pay off.

The way you deal with stressful events impacts your effectiveness as an entrepreneur, so it’s worthwhile discovering your explanatory style.

By becoming aware of your thinking habits, you can train your mind to more effectively deal with obstacles — so you can continue to crush it in business and life.

You Can Train Your Brain to Be More Positive with These Steps

Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding, LMSW is a performance coach, licensed social worker, and has a Masters from Columbia. She helps established and rising managers and executives advance in their careers. Her clients work at companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, HP, and Deloitte. She also helps entrepreneurs take bold steps to grow their businesses. Melody has helped over 10,000 smart, self-aware people like you. Her coaching gives you actionable strategies to reach your goals. You get concrete steps to overcome the complex struggles of success. Melody loves arming ambitious people with tools and tactics to boost their confidence. She can teach you skills for assertiveness and influence. Her specialties include better managing your emotions at work. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at CUNY Hunter College in NYC. She writes about psychology and careers for Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, and more. Click here and grab the FREE COURSE to go from insecure to unstoppable confidence 5 DAYS TO FREEDOM FROM SELF-DOUBT..

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APA Reference
Wilding, M. (2018). You Can Train Your Brain to Be More Positive with These Steps. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 15 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.