Replacing fear-based reactions with a positive mind-set

Replacing fear-based reactions with a positive mind-set

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Competing against the legendary Venus Williams in the U.S. Open recently, Karolína Plíšková turned fear on its ear and embraced the tense situation.

A confident Karolína Plíšková during her crucial match against Venus Williams Labor Day weekend 2016 in New York. (Photo courtesy Ms. Plíšková's Twitter account)

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2016 – We’ve all been there in social situations and in business situations alike. Recall those conversations that have taken a negative direction, the ones that can and do end up in a downward spiral and those that that have gone south… with bosses, with spouses, with friends, with our kids and with people we don’t even know.

No matter how you define them, negative conversations don’t ever feel good to us. After we’ve endured one, we end up upset with the individual we’ve been discussing with, but perhaps even more with ourselves for being drawn into something negative or toxic like this in the first place.

But observe: Sometimes that negative or toxic feeling is actually based on fear.

If we want to avoid negative conversations and the overwhelmingly negative feelings that wash over us in the aftermath, what if we could shift our reactions when situations cause fear and instead embraced the circumstance head-on? What an incredible impact that could have on our lives. Hold that thought for a moment along with the impact such a 180-degree shift might have.

When we approach a situation that may be new to us or one where we’re somewhat unsure, or when we’re facing a problem we simply must deal with, instead of being fearful of what might come next next, what if we approached that situation or problem with enthusiasm, with a productive attitude or even with excitement, exchanging our fear-based attitude to a positive outlook, the better to discover what lies ahead?

Earlier this month, I watched Venus Williams playing Karolína Plíšková in the U.S. Open tennis matches. Each player had won a set, putting both in a tie-breaker to determine the third set and winner.

Carrying an inferior ranking, facing an unaccustomed new situation (she’d never advanced to this far in a major tournament), and with the pumped-up New York crowd clearly behind Venus, the younger, less experienced, 10th-seeded Plíšková must have been quietly terrified. Yet she chose to embrace the situation, leading to her unexpected upset triumph.

When we’re stressed, we often engage in negative self-talk (inner dialogue), leading to lower resilience and decreasing trust in ourselves and others, and we frequently shut down our creativity and block our thinking as well.

What did Plíšková do to turn that tense, must-win situation around? She embraced the situation with positive self-talk and renewed confidence. Plíšková played the match point by point. She trusted in herself and her abilities by taking some risky shots and employing different strategies. Her positive approach let led to her unexpected triumph over her vastly more experienced legendary opponent.

Even if she hadn’t won in the end, Plíšková would still be a winner in my book. That’s because her transformed attitude was positive, productive, and capable of moving her in the right direction for achieving her goal.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you do the same, the next time you face your own stress-filled situation:

  • Pause and take a breath before you react.
  • Be aware of your mindset.
  • Replace fear by embracing a positive mind set.
  • Know that you do have a choice.

When stressful situations present themselves, remember that we always have a choice to make as to how we’re going to react. Choice is empowering, not something to fear. What will you choose in your next difficult situation?


For more information:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Career Coach
Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies, Transition & Leadership

Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach

301-706-7226  or 703-547-0039!/susan.samakow

Ask Susan about the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping), breathing techniques, and meditation.

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