Are You Running “Double-Negative” Inner Dialogues? A Simple Trick to Harness Your Positive Energy

Yolanda Yu Executive Coach Career Coach Harness Your Positive Energy

Are these statements positive or negative?


“I don’t want to be a failure.”

“I don’t want to feel stuck.”

“I don’t want to be sad.”


In mathematics, “double negative” equals positive. But in language, they never are. Consider “I do not dislike my job.” vs. “I like my job.” Or “She is not a bad person.” Vs. “She is a beautiful person.”


Consider the following then, instead:


“I want to be a success.”

“I want to have momentum.”

“I want to be happy.”


Our brain considers whatever we describe, ignoring the prefix “I do not want.” Therefore, two seemingly identical statements can trigger entirely different responses in our bodies.


“I don’t want to…” takes us to the dire scenario we describe. We feel those experiences, be it the panic from a pressing danger, the embarrassment of failure, or the helpless state of a victim. In a word – we live in what we do not want.


“I want…” takes us to the success, momentum, and joy we desire. As our brain loves to fill in the blanks, it immediately starts asking itself, “how do I get there?” And that is a powerful constructive mindset.


Neuroscientific evidence has shown that
there is greater neural processing in the brain
in response to negative stimuli.


We are naturally wired to act to avoid risky situations than to gain something – this is what our brain does to keep us safe. However, if we are overly focused on the negative possibilities, it hinders our capability to be optimistic and affects our relationship and performance as we always expect the worst.


One challenge is that many of us lack a positive vocabulary. Building a collection of what you want helps if you know too well everything you don’t want.


Now, of course, you can google “positive vocabulary” to get a list. I suggest you build your personal archive because that’s the best way for it to stick. A little of visioning exercise helps:


  • Recall the last time you were in the desired state or imagine you are experiencing it.

  • How does it feel? What will your presence be?

  • Think of a word or a few to describe them. Adjectives. Nouns. Or phrases if necessary.

  • Use these words to anchor your feelings

  • “Train” your double-negative statements into “I want…”


I hope you can feel the difference. 🙂

portrait_Yolanda Yu_YL_r

Empowering Change From Within

Career & Leadership Coach, Start-up Mentor, and two-time Penguin Author, Yolanda has over 20 years’ corporate experience and served leadership positions in world top technology companies such as Alibaba, Visa, and Mastercard.

From software engineer to sales, headhunter, entrepreneur, to business leader in eCommerce and Fintech industries, Yolanda reinvented her career for countless times. She specializes in tailored coaching programs for professionals in the phases of career change and leadership transition.

Yolanda is particularly passionate about equipping technical leaders with leadership skills. She delivers leadership 101 courses through group coaching and 1:1 engagement.