The bad kind of C-talks

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

In a recent episode of the Lewis Howes podcast, which is considered as one of the top 100 podcasts in the world, the featured guest was a gentleman named Price Pritchett, “one of the world’s most renowned thought leaders on corporate culture and organizational change.”

I regularly watch the podcast and other similar offerings on Facebook in order to harvest wisdom, positive instructions and motivational ideas. Our thoughts, attitudes and relationships, like plants in our garden, need to be watered or nourished regularly.

In the episode featuring Mr. Pritchett, he posed the question to Lewis Howes: “Which do you think is more important: more positive thinking or less negative thinking?” Where do you get the most mileage – more positive thinking or less negative thinking?

Pritchett then shares that most of us think that positive thinking and negative thinking are on one line or the opposite ends of the same scale, where negative thinking is the bad end and positive thinking is the good end. We then think that it is all a matter of sliding our thoughts and attitudes from one side to the other. It turns out they are not. They belong to separate or two different scales.

I then realized that positive thinking is a different set of attitudes, actions and behavior that are diametrically opposed or totally counter to what negative thinking thrives on. They are exclusive to themselves and if we keep it that way, how we think will simply be dependent on what we choose and not what influences us in our surroundings.

Pritchett really drilled down on cutting down the negative thinking:

“If you want to get your real knowledge, cut down on the negative thinking because that’s the villain voice. That’s the critic in your head, that’s the demotivator, that’s the discounter, that’s the one that raises the doubt. And you can shut it up!”

Let’s all ask ourselves: What was the latest thing that the “Villain Voice” told you: that you’re too old? that “it” will take too long? I recently made the mistake of verbally acknowledging I was turning so many years old. Two weeks later I started to think I “was old.” Many friends say I am in better shape than I was two years ago, that being vegetarian works wonders for my looks but when I verbalized my age, I opened the door and the “Old Man” sneaked in. I kicked him out this morning!

What demotivation have you believed in recently? It’s too hot, too far, too expensive or unaffordable? Did the discounter tell you that your participation is unnecessary, that your plan is not big enough? Did doubt tell you there’s not enough time, money? That’s what Pritchett was referring to. He warns that 70 percent of our negative thinking is so embedded in our day-to-day behavior, we’re not aware of it as habitual thinking and he refers to it as the 5 Cs.

Before you read the 5 Cs of negative thinking, try putting it in the context of the Philippines and the way Filipinos talk and think, then you’ll realize how close to home Pritchett’s views are.

The first one is Complaining or griping about things like the hot weather. Complaining once in a while is probably “natural” but have you noticed how Filipinos, especially us in Metro Manila, complain about the heat, the traffic, the pollution, noisy neighbors, parking? If we were to review generation by generation from the 40’s to today, the graph will probably show a steep rise from the 70’s to today.

The next one is Criticizing. We criticize things that don’t work like traffic, blackouts, flight delays, bank transactions. We even criticize personalities on TV or in the news or in politics, fashion and entertainment. Aside from local political realities, one other factor that drives the level of criticism in the Philippines is the influence of Western media and culture where right, entitlement and confrontation have infected Filipinos to behave likewise. “Gaya-gaya.”

The next one is Concern or “garden variety worrying” such as being concerned about inflation, the news. Even our Lord Jesus Christ specifically warned us against worrying, particularly about things we have no power over. Yes, negative thinking is strong but I personally try to catch myself when “Concern” turns into a worry wart I want to scratch. I immediately start praying about the concern and that brings out the Positive scale.

One of the 5Cs that Mr. Pritchett stated as something that does not help is Commiserating or being negatively in agreement with someone. “It does not do anyone any good.” Filipinos call it “pakiki-isa or pakikisama.” By being in agreement about how negative or bad a situation is, we actually highlight or make it worse or multiply its severity.

Instead of Commiserating, our response should be: Yes, it sucks, but how can I help? How can we make it better? Can we focus on something we can do to have a different outcome? Or, in the words of a Filipino president I know, every time he gets stumped: Let’s pray!

The last one is Catastrophizing. When you’re down, you just blow things out of proportion. One thing common to individuals or corporations that consult me for crisis management is they think it’s worse than it is – always. It always is, if your ass happens to be the center of the bullseye or if you have worked yourself into a panic or believe that you’re doomed.

Funny thing is, once we compartmentalize and write it on a white board, 90 percent of the time it never is a real crisis. If you’re the 10 percent, then pray and give me a call. Let’s all pay closer attention to what we lean on. Let’s go to the positive.

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E-mail: [email protected]

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