Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to a women’s leadership retreat. The retreat was held at the beach in North Carolina and I LOVE the beach! It is restoring to me and I do not get to go as often as I would like. Needless to say, I was IN!

Out of a group of 30 women, I only met one of them prior to the trip. I saw images of the women on Facebook, but beyond that, they all were strangers to me. I looked forward to the trip all month, with hopeful anticipation of the relationships I would make and the things I would learn, but there was something else lurking in my brain about the trip. I was nervous about creating relationships with these new women whom I admired. As the trip got closer, I started creating stories about these new women I would meet; the thoughts slipped in as I was going about my day and preparing for the trip. In one version of the story these women were all more successful than me, more stylish than me, more bathing-suit-ready than me, and already content in an established group of friends.

Did you hear my inner voice telling me things that were sabotaging my joy and excitement about the experience? This inner voice was telling me that I was not worthy of connection and not worthy to be invited to this leadership retreat. We all have this inner voice telling us something that gets in our way of what we want.

How fitting that this leadership retreat centered on a book called Find Your Extraordinary, written by Jessica Herrin, founder of Stella & Dot. I chuckled with appreciation as we discussed chapter on the power of positivity. This chapter is based upon the work of Shirzad Chamine’s book, Positive Intelligence.

Did you know that our brains are wired for negativity and these sabotaging voices are normal? Everyone has them!

Jessica Herrin shares, “According to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California, we humans have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day and as many as 80% of them are negative.”

How do we tell these sabotaging voices to take a hike or to turn the spinning, unproductive thoughts into sources of positivity? Herrin suggests the following steps:

  1. Recognize the thought and name it. The thought I am having is __________________.
  1. Ask yourself some questions about the thought.
    1. Is this thought true?
    2. Is this thought important?
    3. Is this thought helpful?
  1. Accept that your negative thoughts do not have to guide your actions or cause inaction. We can choose to be positive.

“While you may never evict Negative Nelly from your head, you can certainly exile her to a tiny bedroom in the basement of your brain with no electricity or air conditioning.”

I bet you’re wondering if my negative thoughts about the trip were true, important, or helpful. Here is what I learned: these women were successful and smart and they had an amazing established group of friendships. They were also remarkable, welcoming, excited to meet those new to the group, down to earth, and how we looked in our bathing suits didn’t matter! As I reflect on an amazing leadership retreat, I am so happy that I leaned into the unknown experience of the trip, built amazing new friendships, and learned many tips to help me be more self-aware, successful, and happy.

Learn more about your negative thoughts and how to take charge of them by taking this saboteur assessment.



Britten Parker

Britten Parker

Britten Parker believes in the power of the human spirit. She is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and coach specializing in Values Based Leadership. She is talented at connecting with audiences with her energy and down-to-earth approach. She especially loves helping individuals discover their core values and helping groups gain alignment to be more effective. Britten earned a Bachelor’s of Science from James Madison University, a master’s degree in Counselor education from University of Virginia, and a certification in business coaching from North Carolina State University. She spent several years working in higher education before transitioning into the corporate environment. She works as a Senior Leadership partner working with internal audiences at Luck Companies and external clients. Britten lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, son, and three dogs. She enjoys playing with her family, running with friends and creating craft projects in her free time.

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