How To Kill Negative Thoughts: Stop Listening To “B-Sides”

In the 1970s and 80s music used to come out on big discs that had sounds physically imprinted on them. They were packed into cardboard sleeves and driven by trucks to record stores for fans to buy. (God that seems so caveman’ish now, doesn’t it.)

There were two different kinds of records.

  1. Full length albums, or LPs (long plays)
  2. Singles, or 45s (named after it’s play speed: 45 rpm)

The single was the hit song. But the hit only took up one side of the record. There was also room for another song on the back. They called the two sides “A” and “B”. The hit single went on the “A Side” and the other track was on the “B-Side”.

3-records

The A-Side was pretty predictable. But on the B-Side, you never could be sure what you were going to get.

Your Thoughts Have B-Sides Too

Last year I wrote about how I deal with negative thinking. And I wanted to bring it up again because I think it’s important.

Whether you’re doing online marketing, trying to lose weight or write your next album. If you get caught up in this kind of thinking you will be stopped dead in your tracks and fail miserably at everything you do.

Self Talk

A lot of us get beat up by self-talk every day of lives, myself included. It can be crippling if you let it go unchecked. But if you do a few simple things you can beat it.

>> I did a video about this as well.

Here’s how it works:

My head talks to me all the time and it doesn’t always have a lot of nice things to say. Over time, I started paying more attention to it and realized that when something went wrong, my brain separated my inner dialogue into two parts.

Like an old record, there was a “A-Side” and a “B-Side”.

  • Side A: Reality
  • Side B: Fictional Self-Bashing and Predictions of Doom

Example #1. If I ran an ad campaign that failed, the thought would go something like this:

“That ad campaign didn’t make any money, because I’m a loser, I’m horrible at this and nothing is ever going to work for me again. So I might as well quit for good.”

  • A Side is reality: “That ad campaign didn’t make any money”
  • B Side is crazy and totally untrue: “because I’m a loser, I’m horrible at this and nothing is ever going to work for me again. So I might as well quit for good.”

Example #2: I dieted and worked out but didn’t lose any weight, my brain would say:

“I didn’t lose any weight this week… because I’m a big fat loser who can’t do anything right and I might as well just eat a bucket of ice cream because nothing matters.”

  • A Side is reality: “I didn’t lose any weight this week…”
  • B Side is insanity: “because I’m a big fat loser who can’t do anything right and I might as well just eat a bucket of ice cream because nothing matters.”

bside

Image: A visual example of how “B-Side” thoughts work.

Write A Better B-Side

If you want to instantly feel better about life and the work you’re doing try rewriting your own B-Sides. Rewrite them using reality-based language that doesn’t condemn you to death for making a mistake.

Take the example above: “That ad campaign didn’t make any money, because I’m a loser, I’m horrible at this and nothing is ever going to work.

Now, let’s rewrite it: “That ad campaign didn’t make any money. But I always learn from my mistakes and I know that if I keep trying and testing I will find something that works.

And now the second: “I didn’t lose any weight this week… because I’m a big fat loser who can’t do anything right and I might as well just eat a bucket of ice cream because nothing matters.”

Now, let’s rewrite it: “I didn’t lose any weight this week. But I know that this takes time to figure out and I’ll keep trying until I find something that works for me.

See the difference? The change can be life-altering if you can remember to do it. Here’s a simple 3-step process that will make it easier to keep in mind.

The 3-Steps:

  1. Stay conscious of your thoughts. Most people are running on auto-pilot and follow the voice in their head without question. Maybe it was something your parents said to you as a child, or someone who teased you in school. The recording got in there and it’s stuck on repeat. To change your thinking you have to pay attention to what’s going on in there and choose what’s real and what’s not.
  2. Hear the B-Side when it happens. The negative thought, or “B-Side” will probably never go away. The trick is to realize it’s happening and then change it. Instead of believing it, just be aware that it’s happening and work around it.
  3. Rewrite a B-Side that is based in reality. Rewrite the end of your thought using reality-based words. “I didn’t lose any weight this month, but I know that if I keep working at it and learning about diet and exercise I’ll be able to reach my goal.

If you can remember to do that on a regular basis, I have no doubt you will feel better right away. You’ll make faster progress and finally pull off whatever goal you’ve been chasing for years without success.

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Easy Listening

Sometimes the mind can be a pretty crazy place to be. There are a lot of negative voices and self-talk that go on 24 hours a day. Left unchecked that can drive you mad and make you give up before you should.

But by paying attention to your B-Sides and rewriting them to be more realistic, you have a much better shot at continuing forward in life, accomplishing the goals you set – and more importantly…

holding on to your sanity.

  • Zach

    Nice, Malan! One of my mentors taught me a tactic I use for these moments which she explains as: you are not responsible for your first thought but you are responsible for your second, third, etc thoughts.

    This allows the person to release an emotional attachment to their first thought — i.e. the “B-side” as you refer to it. By releasing this attachment, we can then take control of our thought processes and steer them towards empowering thoughts. With time, the “B-side” begins to be less personally destructive and more uplifting.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      nice – I should be charging for this stuff 😉

  • Lucia

    Very powerful stuff broken down to its core steps. Thanks, Malan!

  • Adam

    Nice post Malan! Negative thoughts are always tough for me as well, and all the suggestions you wrote really resonate!

    Something that always helps me also is just challenging the negative thought and just bringing it back to neutral, because sometimes I couldn’t really imagine or trick my brain into letting go of the negative. an example:

    Ad campaign loses 1k – “Damn I’ll never be able to learn this without losing 10k+”, so to challenge it I would just say “Is that really true? Have people just like me made these types of campaigns work before?” To which the answer is yes, they just know something I don’t yet.

    Bringing it back to neutral has helped me a lot, got the tactic from The Feeling Good Handbook actually after a buddy recommended it.

    Great posts as usual man!
    -Adam

  • Jozef

    That’s a nice simple little trick. But I have to wonder, have you ever tried silencing those voices via mediation? If yes, how did that go?

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah i’ve meditated off and on for years now. it’s very helpful

  • http://youritalianrecipes.com/ Yi Recipes

    Thanks for your good advice Malan

  • Ken L

    Pretty good reminder of how effective this is. Thanks.
    The Darras Method kind of reminds of an old “reframing” technique I was once shown. Your method is simpler and more straightforward I think. I’ll find out today when I put it into practice. Take care Malan. Laters!

  • Timothy Kirkby

    Very good advice, for me it also helped to stop identifying myself with my thoughts, we aren’t out thoughts but we are the witness behind them and we have the power to chose to belief them or not, it takes practise but once you get the hang of it those negative thought will popup less frequent.