Connect with us


Channeling positive thoughts: How negativity affects work performance

Entertain winning thoughts instead to improve your work performance.



The thoughts we entertain make us or break us.

They are like the unwanted house guests from the old Saturday Night Live skits. If you let negative thoughts set up shop in your mind, it’s hard to dig them out and get rid of them.

Many times, we don’t even realize our thoughts are negative. Identifying destructive thoughts is the first step to getting rid of limiting opinions that hinder our performance.

Peak performers take the time and mental energy to check out the identity of their thoughts and dump any that don’t push them towards their goals.

The bad and the ugly

Here is the list of 15 negative thoughts that you can use to ferret out even the stealthiest seeds of negativity. If you find yourself dwelling on any of these categories, consider them as Red Flags.

  • Adversity. The feeling of hardship and that anything opposing you is detrimental rather than a challenge to be overcome.
  • Affliction. The feeling of being distressed with continued suffering, trouble.
  • Calamity. The feeling that certain events cause great suffering, disaster.
  • Displeasure. The feeling of being annoyed, confused, outraged.
  • Distress/Anxiety. The feeling of worry, or of anxiety about an event or events (this is the most preferred destructive thought category, favored by billions everywhere).
  • Great grief. The feeling of intense sorrow, tribulation, regret.
  • Harm. The feeling of injury or loss.
  • Heaviness. The feeling of despondency or depression.
  • Hurt. The feeling or fear of being pained or wounded.
  • Ill favor. The feeling or fear of being disliked When you think people don’t like you.
  • Misery. The feeling of suffering, especially because of poverty or lack.
  • Sadness. The feeling of depression, dejection or self-pity.
  • Sorrow. The feeling of distress and pain because of loss.
  • Trouble. The feeling or fear of difficulty, unrest, perplexed, or agitation.
  • Wrong. The feeling of injustice, anything not working properly.

Copy this list, tape it to the refrigerator, to the bathroom mirror, next to your office phone, to your computer, or anywhere it might help you to identify the negative assault on your mind. (Hint: the news and talk radio love to bombard you with almost everything on this list.)

We have to take responsibility for our thoughts. We can’t keep bad thoughts from coming, but we can arrest them and deport them. Just like you can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair. If you aren’t telling your brain what and how to think, there are plenty of folks out there who will.

The good

The list of negative thoughts is to make it easier to identify them, however, telling someone not to think about a thing is to cause them to think about it.

For example: do not, under any circumstances, think about a polar bear. (What did you just think about?) Do not think about the color red, nor the number 13. (Too late, you just did.) See?

Peak performers know that it is not enough to just identify negativity, they know that they must replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. To that end, here are fifteen suggestions:

  • Beautiful. Attractive, exquisite, fair, handsome, lovely, pretty.
  • Bountiful. Abundance, ample, plentiful, substantial.
  • Better. Bigger, faster, stronger.
  • Cheerful/glad. Light-hearted, willing.
  • At ease. Relaxed, unworried, unembarrassed.
  • Well-favored. When other folks just like you and treated you well.
  • Happy welfare. Health and prosperity.
  • Loving. Expressing goodwill and affection.
  • Kind/useful. Helpful.
  • Pleasing/pleasure. Delighted, satisfied.
  • Sweet. Rich, productive, possesses winning qualities.
  • Ready. Available for immediate use.
  • Prosperity/wealth. Success, great abundance, riches far greater than riches.
  • Precious/high value. Highly priced, of great worth, excellence.
  • Finest/best. Excellent, elegant, refined, pure.

Positive thoughts can help you reach your peak performance. (Photo by mkismkismk via Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

These 15 winning thoughts are what you should repeatedly be thinking about day and night, night and day if you want to reach peak performance. Copy this list and tape it to the refrigerator and put it next to the Red Flag list. In this way, you will always have the Green Flag list handy.

Think about these things within the context of your targets and goals. Turn them into a movie clip (imagination) and play the clip constantly. Turn these 15 winning thoughts into winning opinions and beliefs and crush it!

The mind/mouth connection

We know that we must replace Red Flag thoughts with thoughts that are Green Flag, but that is easier said than done. It is easier to redirect your thoughts by “saying” or using your mouth to control and guide your thoughts.

Here is an experiment: Begin counting backward in your head, starting at 999. Then say your name out loud.

When you spoke your name, what happened to your backward counting? On what number did you stop? The point is you had to stop the train of thought of counting backward when you spoke out loud.

There is a mind/mouth connection wired into all human beings. If you know about this connection, you can then begin to use it to your advantage. If you physically force yourself to speak—to say out loud—Green Flag thoughts, you can control, guide, and redirect your thoughts in the same way that peak performers do.

Concentrate all of your conversations on the Green Flags. Whenever a Red Flag thought pops up, replace it by speaking a thought from the Green Flag list.

It takes awareness and energy, but peak performance through mental toughness is work. Green Flagging pays a huge return on your investment though, so cowboy up and stick with it!

Positive thinking will not eradicate limiting opinions and beliefs; speaking Green Flag thoughts aloud will. This is the first step. It is foundational and must be mastered before going on to peak performance.

Go forth and speak Red Flags no more.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Andrew D. Wittman, PhD, is a United States Marine Corps infantry combat veteran, a former Police Officer and Federal Agent. As a Special Agent for the U.S. Capitol Police, Wittman led the security detail for Nancy Pelosi and has personally protected Hillary Clinton, Tom Delay, Trent Lott, King Abdullah of Jordan, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Sir Elton John, as well as Fortune 20 CEOs. As a security contractor for the State Department, he taught high-threat diplomatic security to former Navy SEALS, Marines, Rangers, and Special Forces. Wittman is founder of the Mental Toughness Training Center, a leadership consultancy specializing in peak performance, team dynamics, resolving conflict in the workplace and is the author of the new book, “Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You” (2016). He holds a Ph.D. in Theological Studies, is a guest lecturer at Clemson University and co-hosts the radio call-in show “Get Warrior Tough”.