• Our brains are programmed to have a negative bias
  • Reprogram your default thinking for positivity
  • Doing this will help you become your own cheerleader
It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you’ve achieved, someone will have something shitty to say about you.

Whether it’s because of jealousy, personality clash or just rudeness, everyone has at least one naysayer.

We can’t control what other people think and, to be frank, we shouldn’t give a shit and waste our time or energy caring what the haters say.

But what if the hater

We all have a negative inner critic. It’s the asshole in our heads that tells us we can’t do something or, when we do it anyway, tells us how much we fucked it up.

We all have one and it’s totally normal. But sometimes, we give this voice too much power.

Have you ever not done something because the voice in your head said it probably won’t work out?

Maybe you didn’t ask that person out.

Or didn’t go for that promotion.

Or decided not to speak up when it counted.

When your inner critic starts to limit you and shut you out of opportunities, it’s time to fight back and stand up for yourself.

Life’s too damn short for us to add our own voice to the list of haters.

We need to learn to be our own cheerleader. After all, if you don’t root for yourself, how can you expect anyone else to root for you?

Our Brain’s Negativity Bias

The human brain is biased towards negativity. This means that we feel our negative emotions more strongly than positive ones and we are likely to dwell on them for longer too.

You can probably think of many examples in your life where this has happened.

You could be having a great day at work and then a colleague gets into an argument with you and it fucks up your whole day. By the end of the day, that’s the standout memory for you, not the 99% of all the other positive things that happened.

Or perhaps you have your annual performance review with mostly positive feedback but your manager points out one area for improvement. Instead of being proud of all the good things you did, you focus on the one thing where you’ve fallen short.

Or why a rude-ass email from a co-worker can continue pissing you off for months or years even despite their apologies.

This is all normal. We’re simply wired to place more weight on negative emotions and situations than we are on positive ones.

This might sound like we’re doomed to a life of misery and angst but we’re actually built like this for very good reason.

It’s a survival mechanism that’s intended to keep us from repeating mistakes or wrong decisions. It’s to keep us safe.

And this worked very well back in the cave-man days when the things we needed to be kept safe from were predators and harsh conditions. But our brain now works in the same way attempting to keep us safe from people and situations that are actually not a real life-threatening danger to us.

So, how can we overcome this negative bias in order for our relationships and our own wellbeing to thrive?

You’ve gotta...

Outsmart Your Brain

Our brains are highly complex and scientists still don’t fully understand them. But what they have discovered is that our brains are elastic.

No, they’re not literally made from silly putty but rather they are adaptable. Like computers, our brains can actually be reprogrammed to behave differently.

When we learn something new, we create new pathways in our brain. The more we repeat this thing, the stronger those pathways become. This is how we can go from a scared newbie driver to driving on autopilot within a year.

And this doesn’t just go for learning new skills. We can use this same neuroplasticity - the brain’s ability to change - to reprogram our brains to be more positive.

Here’s the challenge though.

Your inner critic has been building negative pathways in your brain for, literally, your whole life. It’s built up a shit-ton of negative programming. So overcoming this will take some work.

But there are simple mind hacks you can use that will help you to start breaking down some of these pathways and building new, happier connections in your brain.

Becoming Your Own Cheerleader

We teach others how to treat us. So, if we want to be treated well, it has to start with us. We have to become our own cheerleader - and, to do this, we need to break down years of negative conditioning.

These simple tricks are highly effective when used consistently. Select two or three and make these your weapons against that asshole inner voice.

The more you put it to use, the stronger it becomes and eventually, it’ll overpower the asshole in your head.

Read that sentence again because that’s the key to making this shit work.

1. Banish Negativity

They say we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. If you surround yourself with Debbie Downers, you’ll become a Debbie Downer.

Be aware of the people you have around you.

Are they always complaining?

Do they put other people down?

Are they pessimistic?

If so, it’s time to ditch ‘em and swap ‘em out for better people.

Surround yourself with people who are confident, positive and inspiring. This will help you to become more positive at work and give you a safe environment to be your own cheerleader.

It’s not just our relationships that can affect us though. It’s also what you expose yourself to.

A lot of the content you consume from the news, social media, TV and the web are biased toward negativity. Just take a look at the headlines for any day. Most of it is bad news. And, since your default mental programming naturally aligns with that, it’s really easy to get sucked into all of it.

So, be selective about what kind of content you consume and choose positivity when you can.

We like reading news from the Good News Network to feed ourselves positive stuff. Just scanning their headlines will make you feel good.

2. Look For The Positive Lesson

We’ve already established that, when something goes wrong, we’re likely to ruminate over it.

But instead of playing over past mistakes and berating yourself, identify the lesson and focus on how you’ll improve and grow so that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Undoubtedly, the memory of the situation will pop back in your head often because that’s how our negativity bias works. But you can hijack it by focusing on how this past mistake will influence your future behavior.

You can even go so far as to take a moment to express gratitude for this mistake or situation, as it helped you to learn and grow into a better version of yourself.

Doing this really flips the script on your inner critic. And, it can also help you keep a positive attitude at work when life sucks.

3. Learn To Accept Compliments

If you really want to be your own cheerleader, you have to allow others to cheer for you too.

Many of us have a bad habit of not being able to accept a compliment.

When someone gives us praise or comments on our appearance, especially at work, we get flustered and brush it off like, “oh, it’s nothing really.”

Instead, we should learn to accept and agree with compliments we receive. Don’t be shy about it! Embrace it!

When people go out of their way to let us know we’ve done something good, take it all in and enjoy it. It can be part of your 101 reasons to smile.

4. Positive Affirmations 

Positive affirmations might sound like airy-fairy bullshit but, when done correctly, they are proven to change our thoughts, habits and behaviors. This study from the University of California Santa Cruz found that affirmations can drive positive behavioral change.

But affirmations aren’t just about repeating random statements that you don’t even really believe are true. That’s the Stuart Smalley (Saturday Night Live) “bullshitting yourself” method.

Learn how to create true, effective “I Am” affirmations and then incorporate them into your daily life. The key is that the affirmation must reflect a core value that you believe in.

Once you’ve created your affirmations, you can easily build them into your day:
  • Write them on a Post-It note and stick them on your bathroom mirror
  • Create affirmation reminders on your mobile phone or tablet at set times to remind you to speak positivity into your life
  • Create a phone wallpaper that features your affirmation so you see it every time you use your phone
  • Record yourself saying the affirmations and play this as you get ready for the day, on your commute to work or before you go to sleep
The additional bonus is that affirmations can also act as a primer for your brain to get in the zone at work. All it takes is one self-affirmation to kick-start the momentum.

5. Positive Self-Talk

We’re pros at negative self-talk. Now, it’s time to brush up our skills on positive self-talk.

This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s basically giving yourself a pep talk, in the mirror if you really want to make it stick.

In fact, here’s one of the best pep talks around.

It’s a 3-minute video from “Kid President” and you’ve probably already seen this. And if so, it's worth watching again. If you haven’t seen this, you gotta watch this. It’s totally inspiring and it will definitely make your day - guaranteed.

VIDEO: A Pep Talk
YOUTUBE: SoulPancake
LENGTH: 3:27
Pep talks like that can boost your confidence and happiness instantly.

This study from the University of Michigan found that using non-first-person pronouns and your name in positive self-talk helps to create some distance and objectivity, reducing stress associated with social situations and public speaking.

So, when you’re giving yourself some positive encouragement, do it as if you’re talking to a friend. Use your name, be encouraging and - most of all - believe yourself!

Language is a hugely powerful tool which can be used for good or evil. If we often talk about ourselves in negative terms, playing down our achievements and using derogatory terms to describe ourselves, our brain will be programmed to think of us in that way.

Instead, let’s learn to celebrate victories, accept compliments, and talk about ourselves in more positive terms. This goes for conversations with others as well as our internal monologue.

6. Practice Self-Compassion

Leading self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as “knowing the difference between doing something wrong and being something wrong.”

Most of the time, when we fuck up or something goes wrong, we use this individual event to define who we are. We say “I’m such an idiot!”

To become more compassionate, whenever you catch yourself saying something like this, reword it to be more accurate - you did something wrong but you are not something wrong. It’s more along the lines of - I did something idiotic, I did something stupid or I did a bad thing.

The more you practice this, the more naturally it will come to you. It’s rewiring your brain to be more compassionate.

Self-compassion is a skill we should be taught in school - that’s how important it is for a good life.

While most schools haven’t yet got the memo, luckily for us, The School of Life has. They help us understand how to build self-compassion in this short video.

VIDEO: Self Compassion
YOUTUBE: The School of Life
LENGTH: 4:42
Summary points:
  • Failure is a normal part of life, especially since our goals are generally ambitious
  • We are not entirely in control of our lives - luck does play a part
  • Whatever crisis has occurred, remember it won’t last forever

7. List Your Positive Traits

You’re awesome! No really, you are. But it can be easy to forget that.

To help you become your own cheerleader, you need a little reminder of just how awesome you are. This exercise is a great way to jog your memory.

Take some time to identify and celebrate your good qualities by writing out a list. You might find this challenging, especially if you’re more used to pointing out all the things that are wrong with you, but be patient with yourself.

Get some paper and a pen, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and start to list your good qualities. If you can’t think of any, ask yourself “what nice things would my friends and family say about me?”

Once you’re done, take some time to read over the list and feel proud that you have all these wonderful characteristics.

Stick the list somewhere you can see it regularly as a reminder of who you really are.

8. List Your “Wins” For The Day

When you’re in the daily grind of your working routine, just slogging through the days, it’s easy to not notice any progress. It’s especially hard when you’re just trying to get through a rough day.

It’s time to change this.

You need to see that you’re “moving the ball” even if it’s only an inch.

The best way to do this is by listing out all the tasks and things you’ve achieved for the day - no matter how small or insignificant.

This can be pretty hard if you’re used to being down on yourself. So make it easy by writing down all the shit you got done during the day, even if it’s only just getting outta bed!

It’s things like:

Finding that perfect image for Powerpoint presentation.

Getting the excel formula to work like you wanted it to.

Nabbing that meeting time slot on the calendar that worked for everyone.

Finding that specific file during your digital document hunt.

Start with these seemingly small achievements and before you know it, you’ll be in the flow of things.

And, here’s another thing - listing out your small wins from the day is a great way to disconnect from work and end the day on a high note.

9. Celebrate And Treat Yourself When You Win

A lot of the time, when we achieve a goal or get a win in life or in work, we allow ourselves to feel good about it for five minutes (if that), and then we start thinking about what we need to achieve next.

A good habit to develop is celebrating small victories no matter how small they are and treating yourself with a bit of me-time whenever you have a win. And it doesn't have to be huge.

Just completed proof-reading the report?

Go make yourself some cofftea in the breakroom.

Finished doing the dishes?

Decompress with an episode of your fav series.

Dealt with the asshole at work all week and not lost your shit?

Have your fav meal at your fav restaurant.

Make treating yourself a regular occurrence, and savor it each time you do. You deserve it.

10. Develop A Growth Mindset

Being your own cheerleader doesn’t mean bullshitting yourself and pretending that everything is fine and dandy when it’s not. Sometimes, we mess up or we’re out of our depth and that’s okay too.

If you have a fixed mindset, your conclusion will be that you’re simply not good enough or can’t do whatever task is ahead. You’re feeling stuck.

With a fixed mindset, you believe that things will pretty much stay as they are, no matter how hard you try.

Sounds pretty shitty, right?

With a growth mindset, you believe that things can always get better with focus, hard work and motivation.

When faced with a situation where you fucked up or you feel like you don’t have the skills to do something, your new strategy will be to get help, gain knowledge and grow from the experience, not sit there and moan-n-groan about it.

Basically, you’ll have a can-do attitude, knowing that you will ultimately succeed!

It’s Time To Be Your Own #1 Fan

After decades of negative self-talk, retraining ourselves to become our own number one fan is gonna take some time. It’s not gonna change overnight.

But when you commit to it and do it on a daily basis, it is possible.

And with some mental rewiring and making the conscious choice to see the good in things, you can start turning the corner toward more happiness. And happiness is one of the core ingredients to managing work stress.

Why wouldn’t you choose positivity over negativity? Especially if all it takes is a few simple daily mind hacks.

Reprogramming your brain sounds like a huge ask but, by turning some of these tasks into daily habits, you chip away at all the built up negativity and eventually, they’ll start to work on autopilot.

Just imagine. A life where your default response is compassion, gratitude, happiness and love.

Doesn’t that sound like a world you want to live in?

Fuck yeah! We think so.

Feel Better,

more on cubicle life