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Risk-Taking Roadblock: Is the Spiral of Negativity Holding You Back?

For women leaders—and women in general—risk-taking requires a feeling of being safe, secure, and calm. There’s research to back this up! Women tend to pull back when they’re feeling stressed or insecure. It’s the way we’re wired. . .

But fulfilling your dreams and living up to your full potential requires taking risks. So, what’s the best way to combat that?

The secret is the magic ratio of positive to negative thoughts.

Research from Positive Intelligence®, and many other sources, has shown that we must have three positive thoughts for every negative thought we have in order to be happy!

Three to one!

I was pretty astounded when I heard that ration because, like, how do you even do that? Especially if you read or listen to the news on any kind of regular basis. And the thoughts in our heads? How often do you tell yourself positive things? If you’re like most people, you have a running commentary of self-criticism or worse in your mind.

But it’s true. If you have more negative thoughts than positive ones—or even an equal number—you are creating a spiral of negative emotion, which probably translates into you feeling fear or feeling unsafe. And that means—as a woman—you are more likely to pull back, avoid risks, and generally do whatever it takes to increase your feelings of safety and security.

Okay, I’m taking this a little to an extreme, but you can see where I am going. If we really want to take the risk to put ourselves out there, speak up and ask for what we need, and chase our dreams, then we have to shift that negative spiral to a positive one.

One of the tools that I use with my clients (and myself) is a framework called PQ® created by Shirzad Chamine at Positive Intelligence. The goal of the robust toolset in this framework is to retrain the neuropathways of your brain from relying on your “Survivor” brain to primarily using your “Sage” brain.  

The Survivor brain is where fear lives. It’s where the fight or flight response comes from—and it’s where most of our negative thoughts and emotions come from. Yes, the ones that keep us in the negative spiral.

The Sage brain, on the other hand, is where our genius lives. It’s where we access our wisdom and intuition, as well as our feelings of love and empathy. Having three or more positive thoughts to every negative one creates a positive spiral, pushing us in the direction of happiness and harmony and, yes, taking risks.*

When we are in a negative spiral, we are significantly reducing our access to our true wisdom.

Unfortunately, being negative has become such a way of life for many people because our culture (think news, advertising, even entertainment) often focuses on scaring us because fear drives sales. Fear creates an adrenaline rush that is addictive.

We don’t even realize how much this persistent negativity is hampering our success or our well-being. I grew up in a household where negativity was prevalent. I even remember having to ask my mother and grandmother to limit their pessimistic discussion about world politics in front of me because they were giving me nightmares! Literally!

Shifting from a negative spiral to a positive one wasn’t easy for me, but it has been life-changing! Especially when it comes to taking risks! The things I am doing now? Ha! I would never have done half of them had I not made this shift.

So, are you chasing your dreams? Asking for what you want? Breaking free of other people’s expectations?

If you’re not, you might want to check in on your positivity ratio. Are you in a negative spiral or a positive one? And what will it take to make the shift?

*Summary in my own words from the Positive Intelligence framework.
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