Don't Think About Puppies!
When you hear words, your mind sees images. As a result, even if there's a negative word like "don't," your mind can't erase the image.
When you read the headline of this post - Don't Think About Puppies - a picture of a little fur ball came to mind.
You can't help yourself.
Your image is likely different from mine, but you aren't thinking about animals from the Serengeti or fish from the Great Barrier Reef. My words say one thing, to think about anything except a young canine, but the mental picture persists in spite of my admonition "don't."
This is why coaches, athletes, and business teams focus visualizing what COULD be, always, always looking for the positive.
"Don'ts" don't work.
And yet, we speak in negatives all of the time. Unwittingly we work against ourselves and our best efforts.
Don't hit your brother!
Don't forget the umbrella!
Don't yell at your sister!
Don't lose the account!
Don't forget to call when you arrive!
Don't spill the milk!
We hear these words and what we see, aside from a bunch of exclamation points, are exactly what we don't want to have in front of us. We see hits, yelling, missed calls, spilled milk.
This insidious little habit is VERY tough to break, but it's essential to craft the correct images.
The difference is subtle, but powerful.
Keep your hands to yourself.
Remember the umbrella.
Use a nice tone with your sister.
Keep the account.
Remember to call when you arrive.
Keep the milk in the glass!
The only way I've found to break the habit is to work with someone who ALSO wants to work in the positives. My colleagues (and my husband) make a game of "catching" me when I say "don't" - and take great pride in calling me out.
I'm surprisingly ok with the reminders. After all, I don't want to don't say what CAN be!
How about you?