Leadership: How to Engage, Inspire, Connect-Part 1 (Shift Negative Thoughts)

How to Lead Consciously

Everyone leads someone.  Public speakers lead.  To be an effective public speaker, to be an effective leader, you need to engage, inspire, and connect with those you are leading. In this and the next 3 articles we discuss strategies for making conscious decisions on how to shape your thoughts, feelings and behaviors to positively influence your own happiness to effectively lead others. When you are happy you give others around you the potential to gain happiness as well.

Multiple Communication Situations

The term “public speaking” doesn’t always mean that you’re speaking in front of a huge audience. Your oral and nonverbal presentation occurs throughout your day when you’re interacting with anyone whether on a one-to-one basis, in a small group, or in a large group.  The following principles and recommendations are fitting for any of those situations.

The Impact of Automatic Negative Thoughts on Leaders

As a leader, you have moments of doubt, insecurity, and feelings of defeat.  You lose hope.  What you as a leader do with those thoughts and feelings is what shifts you from reactive leading to conscientious leading.   Our thoughts are rapidly moving through our minds throughout the day.  As humans, our tendencies are to allow unconscious negative thoughts flow through our brains without awareness. These thoughts can damage our feelings and our behavior. Not only can they affect the choices that we make for short-term happiness, but they can also affect the choices we make for long-term happiness.  Bring to consciousness those negative thoughts.  For example, do the following exercise.

Shifting Negative Thoughts to Consciousness

  1. Sit quietly and breathe.
  2. Without judgment, monitor the flow of thoughts, positive or negative.
  3. Notice your body sensations (tightness/tension can reflect anxiety/fear).
  4. Track back to any moments of anxiety you experienced recently.
  5. Write down the thoughts related to this anxiety.
  6. Don’t monitor how it comes out on paper-just write.
  7. Examine the thoughts for any overgeneralization, catastrophizing, projecting the future, or “black and white thinking” such as “That is terrible,” “I’m no good at this.”  “This is going to end badly.”
  8. Shape the thought into a more manageable design. For example “I forgot what I was going to say in my presentation and yet I was able to shift to another topic anyway.  I still gave valuable information.  I’ll see if there was any other way I could have better prepared for my presentation.”

When you do this exercise, you see that bringing into consciousness our negative thoughts gives us power over them.   In many ways, our negative thoughts are related to fear.  Many of us experience fear of disapproval.  As the song by Peter Gabriel goes (who has publicly spoken about actively healing his hurts,) “I have my fears.  But they do not have me.” To your leadership success, Cher


SangitaApril 9th, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Hi Cher,
Love your tips on shifting the negative thinking. I like the song you mention by Peter Gabriel- I have my fears,but they do not have me:)

Dorothy FitzerApril 9th, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Great Cher! Wonderful way of getting folks out of there internal tapes and back in relationship with their audience:)

Teena EvertApril 9th, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I just love these exercises -very powerful and practical!

Teena Evert

PatriciaApril 9th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Great article Cher! Love the tips and your mention of Peter Gabriel 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

Cher GundersonApril 9th, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Patricia, Glad you liked the tips. I love Peter Gabriel 🙂


Cher GundersonApril 9th, 2014 at 8:24 pm

So glad you like the tips and find them practical and powerful. They also may be helpful for your clients. You could focus them on the matters of the couples with whom you work…an idea for you:)


Cher GundersonApril 9th, 2014 at 8:26 pm


Great way to describe this-“getting out of our old tapes and back in relationship with our audiences”.


Tina GamesApril 9th, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I love how this exercise took me into the pages of my journal. ~ I do some of my best processing there! 🙂

Tina M. Games

marthaApril 10th, 2014 at 6:39 am

Love this! Great exercise in shifting negative thoughts and timely for me!

Cher GundersonApril 10th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Good Martha! You’re open to synchronicity 🙂 Keep shifting…


Cher GundersonApril 10th, 2014 at 4:01 pm


Yes, writing is such a therapeutic tool for me as well-it does facilitate processing of emotions and thoughts that aren’t always accessible otherwise.

Cheers to journaling,


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