Archive for February, 2014

9 Ways Thoughts Can Lie To You

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The word “can’t” is probably the only four letter word I never heard in my 24 years as an FBI agent. Agents are well aware that our thoughts can lie, so we trained early not to let negativity impair our ability to analyze a tough case that looked impossible to crack. With enough chipping away, and digging, we searched for answers until all leads were exhausted.

Mistakes -woman on phone

Mental toughness was keeping our thoughts under control as we searched for and found ways to keep moving. The key was a flexible and agile mind that refused to let barriers and adversity define the outcome of a case.

It’s not only FBI cases that need the mental toughness to see success. Everything from business, love, and relationships can become affected by our negativity if we allow it to raise its ugly head.

Les Brown once said that 80% of self-talk is negative, but just because something is different does not mean it is also a threat. If left on their own, out thoughts can lie to us about the challenges ahead because of this negative self-talk. When our thoughts can lie to us, they produce the negativity that can paralyze us.

This means you need to pay more attention to ways your thoughts can lie to you because these are the same thoughts that will keep you from moving ahead in business and life. 

Witnesses are always important in FBI investigations because they are first-hand observations. In the same way, you need to witness your thoughts and observe them so you are in a better position to eliminate their negative influence.

9 ways your thoughts can lie to you:

1. Using the Words “Always” and “Never.”

If you use the words always and never when you’re confronted with an obstacle or barrier, you activate the limbic brain system. This produces emotions like fear and anger. Absolutes like “always” and “never” are rarely correct. 

  • “My children never listen to me.”
  • “I never get recognized for my hard work.”
  • “Everyone always takes advantage of me.”
  • “I always end up on the short end of the deal.”

This is very common thinking, but if you catch yourself thinking in terms of absolutes, stop and make yourself recall times when you can disprove the negative thought.

2. Focusing On the Negative

When your thoughts focus only on the negative, you fail to see the positive around you. Looking for and finding only the negative in your situation will not only make you feel sad, it will prevent you from recognizing your blessings. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing

3. Believing In the Negative

Question your negative feelings; don’t act on them without thinking them through. Since we all have a negativity bias, it’s easier to believe a situation will turn negative than positive. Negative thoughts are like Velcro; they stick. Positive thoughts are like Teflon; they easily fall away. 

4. Predicting the Future

Do not be tempted to predict the worst possible outcome. Many times we think that by predicting a negative outcome it will lessen our disappointment. For example, if you don’t get promoted or get a business loan—or whatever we’re seeking. In fact, all it does is reduce our chances for feeling good about what we’re doing now. 

5. Reading Minds

Don’t waste time assuming what people think about you—you are not a mind reader. We try to guess what others are thinking, it’s usually comes from a negative attitude we have about the person. Instead, learn to communicate your thoughts and feelings before loosing an opportunity or becoming bitter.

 6. Beating Yourself Up with Guilt

Not every emotion we feel is important or rational. When you feel guilty about something, be skeptical. Is the guilt trying to teach you something rational and helpful about your behavior? Or, is it an irrational response to a situation? This is the first step. The key, however, is to realize the mistake and accept that you’re only human. Do not beat yourself up and batter your self-esteem because you’re not perfect.

7. Labeling

When we judge others, we are labeling them. Negative labels are very harmful because when you lump one person with others you’ve never met, you lose the ability to understand people as unique individuals. Labeling and judging others is an outward display of inward inferiority and anger. 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 ESV

8. Personalizing

The actions of other people do not need to have a negative effect on you. If you take things personally, you make yourself a victim of what others think and do. Realize that it makes no sense to give people such power over you.

Research suggests that we overestimate how much we are singled out by others, and quite frankly, it’s self-absorbed to live this way. Do we actually believe that everything is always about us? 

9. Blaming

Mental toughness is acknowledging and accepting responsibility for your life. You cannot dodge responsibility for what your life is about. You create the situation you are in and the emotions that flow from those situations. The worst thing you can do is take on the role of victim, make excuses, or blame others. This is a lie we tell ourselves to prevent us from reaching our own success.

As you witness the ways your thoughts can lie to you, remember there are things you can do to diminish their power over you. 

I’ve listed 9 ways your thoughts can lie to you—can you add more?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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How Smart Women Climb the Ladder of Success

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

When I walked into my new FBI office, my fellow agents viewed me as a curiosity. Not a smart woman who knew how to climb the ladder of success. The only female on the squad, my fellow agent were polite but distant.  Adversity - rock climbing

I could only pretend not to notice that my fellow agents did not include me in the informal squad debriefings about the direction the more important cases were headed. Our squad worked counterintelligence and espionage cases and Headquarters assigned a huge case to our squad. My supervisor gave the case to one of the guys, but assigned me as the co-case agent. The case agent went to our supervisor to ask that I be taken off the case because he didn’t want to work with someone who was 1) female, and 2) inexperienced.

The walls were thin and I heard our supervisor say, “They’re here to stay. You’re going to have to find a way to work with them.”

I was one of them—a female agent, and I’ll admit that there were times I wanted to quit the squad and ask to be reassigned. It would have been easy to blame the male agents as the cause for my lack of good cases. 

But this ran against the grain of how I was raised—not whine, make excuses, and blame someone else for my situation. Instead, I was raised on the philosophy: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”—if I kept a positive attitude and put my mind to work to find a solution.

Mental Toughness is being able to remain positive so you can take the extra step needed to come up with bold solutions when you face adverse or difficult situations. Smart women understand that it is a sign of weakness to blame others. It’s also a negative way of thinking that becomes pervasive. The better your brain can focus on the positives, the greater your chances of success.

1. Smart Women Know That Blaming Others For Their Failure Is Engaging In Selfish Behavior   

We all make selfish, self-serving, and lazy decisions at times. However, blamers develop a pattern by explaining away their failure as someone else’s fault. They seek excuses for their lack of ability or lack of ambition.

Ultimately, a blamer is trying to either bolster themselves or deflate others.

As a female agent, I needed to establish credibility as an investigator even though the male agents did not. There were not a lot chances to do that if I wasn’t being assigned good cases.

Massive success is the best revenge~Frank Sinatra

Whenever pity reared its ugly head, I reminded myself that because of the cold shoulder given to me by the male agents, I had to dig deep to rekindle my grit, persistence, and determination. 

I did this by intentionally choosing a mindset that focused on the obstacles I’d overcome in the past. If I could do it then, I could do it again, and each time I could do it bigger, better, and bolder than the last time. 

2. Smart Women Know That Blaming Others Is Failure To Take Responsibility For Their Actions 

Blaming others is usually an inability to cope with different situations. People who blame others have not figured out to take hold of their personal rudders and steer their life in specific directions. They are not willing to take responsibility for their choices.

When we are negative or fatigued, our brain perceives our difficulties as significantly heavier and unsurmountable than they actually are. Mental toughness is not being blind to the negatives in our situation; it’s about believing we have the power to do something about them. We can choose our mindset—one that will produce the most value and provide a map to success.

If I wanted to establish credibility as a female agent, I needed to put my thinking brain to work. I decided to craft an undercover proposal that was fresh and unique, and I put myself in the role of the undercover agent. FBI Headquarters loved it.

3. Smart Women Know That Blaming Others Is A Sign Of Weakness and Helplessness 

Blamers believe their situation is permanent and remain helpless. They do not believe that talent, persistence, or willpower will change it. The way in which people explain their helplessness is the key to understanding their responses to adverse events.

It comes down to this: blaming others is how people explain their situations to themselves.

This self-talk consists of negative thoughts that have become even more important in influencing their behavior than spoken words.

Negative self-talk could have led me to believe that my barrier of breaking into “the FBI boy’s club” was permanent, personal, and pervasive. If I’d fallen into that trap, I would believe that I did not have control over the outcome of the situation.

There is a very clear link between mental toughness and the way we approach our helplessness. If we believe the cause is temporary, we can act to change it. That means maintaining a positive attitude. 

Smart women are just like smart men: they don’t blame others for their adversity. Instead, they break through their barriers and keep climbing the ladder of success. 

What tips do you have on how to stop blaming others and use mental toughness to break through barriers?

© 2014 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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