It’s natural to obsess over one bad thing and forget many good things. One problem, like one drop of poison, has the power to pollute everything.

Life is better than it seems for negative people.

Negative thoughts create a small box.

Negative thoughts create a small box. Image of a person with a box over their head.

Negative thoughts:

Obsession over one negative quality clouds your judgment.

Suppose you have a team member who consistently arrives five minutes late for meetings. They’re great with people, highly skilled, and serve clients well.

Where would you be without Mr. Five Minutes Late? Does he bring value? If yes, stop obsessing over one negative quality.

What if timeliness is a hill you want to die on?

Because I said, “Stop obsessing over one negative quality,” you may have assumed I meant forget all about timeliness. ‘All or nothing thinking’ holds leaders back.

Rise above one-thing-thinking:

One way to stop obsessing over negative thoughts is to take specific action.

1. Obsess about honor and gratitude as much as you obsess over fixing problems.

2. Force yourself to think about the big picture.

3. Try a ‘just for today’ approach.

Just for today, let go of nagging Ms. Can’t-You-Show-Up-On-Time. Nag her tomorrow. Just for today, notice her value and contributions.

4. Explain your expectations and ask, “What can you do to arrive on time?” Listen for specific behaviors. “Try harder,” isn’t an answer.

5. Meet with Ms. Tardy 10 minutes before the meeting to discuss something else.

6. Schedule 50-minute meetings. Don’t force people to be late for their next appointment.

7. Don’t ask, “Why are you late?” Why questions invite excuses that force you to become an accuser.

Bonus: Make a list of all the positive contributions of Little Mr. Can’t-Show-Up-On-Time. Work to improve your own attitude.

Obsessing over negative thoughts:

  1. Closes minds.
  2. Distracts from positive behaviors.
  3. Results in unbalanced judgment.
  4. Makes you small.

What are your suggestions to stop obsessing over negative thoughts?

Still curious:

5 Things to Do When Pedaling Faster Doesn’t Work

How to turn Negative Rumination into Useful Reflection

How to Stop Negative Thoughts