Listen to the Positive Voices

There’s one debilitating behavior that most of us fall victim to with great regularity: listening to critical voices in our heads. Echoing negative thoughts inside our heads increases our chances of depression, isolates us from others, and inhibits us from pursuing goals.

We need five positive voices for every one negative voice we carry around in our heads to feel balanced, happy, and productive.

Look for the positive. We often assume that the biggest potential for improvement lies in fixing our weaknesses, but amplifying our strengths is also important. People who use their strengths daily are six times more engaged. Instead of only asking about what you did wrong, request positive feedback too. Ask, “What did you like about my presentation?” or “What worked well for you in this pitch deck?”

Hear the positive. Take it in. Jot down not only the negative, but also the positive feedback. Positive feedback is just as important to you as areas to improve.

Dig in to understand the positive. Allow yourself to lean in and explore praise. Think of a compliment someone paid you recently. What did you do in response? Did you make excuses? “I was lucky.” Did you minimize it? “I had a lot of help.” At best, you probably said, “Thank you.” Turn a compliment into an opportunity to gather concrete examples of how you’re effective.

Believe the positive, and act as if it were true. Believe that the positive feedback they’re saying might actually be true. Find the people who have your best interests at heart and who you can count on to tell you the truth. When you hear their voices over and over again, you’re more likely to see the positive themes and internalize them.

Summing-up: Make it a daily practice to shoot for a five-to-one ratio. You may not keep a precise count of how many positive and negative voices you’re allowing inside your head each day, but once you start to stockpile positive comments, you’ll notice a difference in your energy level and output. With a full tank, it’s easier to pass on the goodwill and be a positive voice for others.

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