Leading Past Our Negative Inner Voice

This past week I experienced a customer service nightmare. After waiting two hours in a phone store to get help transferring my data from one device to another, I made the biggest mistake of all- I paid cash for a cover for my device . The reason it was a major error was that I needed to return the cover (it didn’t fit properly) two days later to that same crazy story. I knew it was fine to bring back the item but what I didn’t know was that the crazy phone store had no cash in the morning. I stupidly paid cash for the cover. I never pay cash. But that day I happened to use my cash. There were no alternative covers to choose from so this was their suggestion to me:

“You need to come back later when we have cash.”

I replied, “But I was here two days ago and waited two hours to be helped and I can’t come back later. Is there anything you can do?” “Sorry, we don’t have cash in the morning.”

Off I went in a huff and a puff to process what I was going to do. The anger started mounting as I pulled away in my car. I knew I had to stay calm while I drove but my inner negative chatter started to take over.

Has this ever happened to you with a co-worker or a boss or a project? Maybe you felt you had worked hard and developed an outstanding result. Or perhaps your boss was getting too critical of your approach to an assignment. Or maybe a co-worker forgot to include you on the email about happy hour with the team. You start to feed your brain with negative information that almost makes you shake. Well STOP!

Related: Life is Too Short to Wait For Referrals

Here are six ways to defeat your negative inner chatter:


When we are in the midst of a frustrating situation we often stop thinking rationally or breathing properly. We may feel we were dealt with unfairly and even may become paralyzed for the moment. Blood rushes to our head and clogs up our thinking patterns. So the first order of business is to get hold of our senses and begin to breathe normally. That will calm you down.


Evaluate what actually just took place and how to propel yourself forward. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What could I have done differently?
  • How can I rectify this situation?
  • What are my choices?
  • Am I taking this too personally ?

    Sometimes we literally need more information before working through our best course of action. It can be so helpful to run your challenges by a colleague, friend or in my case a different phone store. Have additional conversations with people we trust or speak with experts. And that’s what I did. I drove to another location of my phone provider and walked in to get further clarification and information.


    After hearing and analyzing your next steps to remedy your negative self-talk, empower yourself to be accountable to act.

  • Commit to initial steps in telling your boss how you feel about their criticism
  • Tell your co-worker that you were upset being left out on the email chain because you would like to connect with teammates at the happy hour
  • Find the best way to fix the outcome of the project

    It’s ok to feel frustrated and angry but the quicker we can get a handle on changing that negative chatter into positive action the quicker we will resolve the issue.


    When you are ready to move forward share your story with others on your team and whomever you work with. Tell them how you were able to swap out anger for curiosity and action.

    The upshot for my dilemma was that the second phone store helped me strategize how to get a credit on my bill instead of cash back. Of course they didn’t have cash either. Then I purchased a new cover in a different store.