Self Sabotage

The Path
Got a call earlier today from a joint venture partner. My first thought was:

“He’s calling it off. The project is over.”

Why do I do this? I’m pretty much an over-the-top optimist. The glass is always full: sometimes full of liquid, sometimes full of air. It’s always full.

There really is always a silver lining. There is always a seed of equal or greater benefit in even in the worst experiences.

So why do I do automatically jump to the negative?

Deeply rooted pattern

This pattern of thinking has gotten me in trouble before. I’ve had it with just about every boss over the last couple decades. When they asked to see me, I just knew they were going to fire me.

Totally irrational. They may have been wanting to say something good for all I know!

The problem is, I come to the meeting radiating defensiveness rather than collaboration. Not the best mindset to approach any meeting (other than one that you really do need to be defensive in!).


I’ve heard that with the brain, a thought pattern is like a path. The more it’s traveled, the more worn the path gets. Eventually, the path is a paved city street.

It takes a lot less energy to travel a paved street than a dirt path. So in a way, the brain is gravitating toward the path of least resistance.


I guess the only way to solve this is to force myself to think good thoughts when I see the doom-and-gloom start to raise its ugly head.

When I start thinking dark thoughts, I will have to take out my mental machete and force myself to think of a great thing that could happen.

If I get another call that leads me down the thought path I mentioned above, I could add:

…perhaps…He could be calling to call this off. OR, he could be calling to celebrate a breakthrough.

What do you do to retrain your brain?

Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman helps leaders lead their teams with more effectiveness and less stress. The author of "Ask Without Fear!®," he is the founder of The Concord Leadership Group and He's also the executive director of and an Advisory Panel member of Rogare, a prestigious international fundraising think tank. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook. To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. jon

    for some reason, nancy told me that i needed to read this. she said it sounded familiar. i don’t know what she means by that. I mean, she probably thinks that….oh wait. That’s your point.

    Imposter syndrome is part of this, believing that we are going to get caught pretending to know what we are doing.

  2. Marc A. Pitman

    Holy cow. That’s right. I hadn’t thought of that but “imposter syndrome” does fit this.

    Good thing Jesus sees through our smoke screens.

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