How to Take Advantage of Your Negative Thoughts

Put your worst-case scenario thoughts to work for you by considering your next steps.


Every once in a while, I get a client whose default mode is to focus on everything that could possibly go wrong. The result is often immobilizing. They see so much danger, and so many ways that things can go south, that it becomes their de facto reality.

I don’t happen to subscribe to the school of 100 percent positive thought. To a certain extent, a view of the negative can be beneficial. Ignoring the potential for trouble is a great way to get blindsided while you sit with a big happy grin on your face.

But a focus on what could go wrong is one of those things that makes a great servant and a lousy master. As a master (i.e., when you let it define your perception of what’s possible), it creates a potential world of doom and gloom. And when your focus and expectation is almost exclusively on things going wrong, guess what you’re likely to get?

As a servant, on the other hand, it’s invaluable. When you see the potential pitfalls, you can take steps to avoid them, increasing your chances for success. With a little foresight, many of the potential bumps in the road don’t even need to be felt.

The key to using that negative view to help propel you to your dreams is not stopping at what might go wrong. Too many people say, “If I take this step, this negative thing will happen,” and they leave it at that.

Instead of stopping there, use that potential negative as a sprinboard to solutions. Say, “OK, here’s a potential problem – now what do I do about it? How do I minimize the danger? What are some potential ways around it?”

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker , explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.


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