The pessimism cycle can develop when we instinctively focus on our problems and don’t have an effective, and most importantly, sustainable, method to break free. These thoughts can manifest in a low, negative mood when feeling overcome by these emotions. This month’s expert spotlight comes from the remarkable Professor Damian Hughes, an organisational psychologist, and high performance culture coach. We’ve got Damian here today to teach you his method for escaping the damaging cycles of negative thoughts that can sometimes overwhelm us.

Break the pessimism cycle

Damian’s advice on how to rid yourself of this cycle comes in just a few simple steps. First and foremost, is acceptance.

“Don’t try to deny or ignore that there is some degree of concern or negativity in your mind. Sports stars often welcome the feelings of nerves and worry before a game because it indicates that they are getting ready to play. Denying that you have these worries only stops you from taking positive action to control your internal voice.”

If it’s good enough for world-class professional athletes, we think we can make it work for us too.

Next step, start reconnecting with previous successes you’ve had. This isn’t always easy, so here’s Damian’s method to get you on track.

“Once you have recognised what your negative voice sounds like, practise coming up with an alternative that gets you focused on taking action rather than dwelling on negative possibilities.”

This practice involves noting down those negative phrases and replacing them with ready-made positive statements to allow your emotions to flip similarly. You can follow the table below for inspiration.

Damian recommends asking yourself the question, what is a more effective way of saying each of the following comments?

Once you’ve been through and made your positive replacements, try thought-stopping. This tactic involves pinpointing an image or word that stops your negative thoughts right in their tracks.

Sir Steve Redgrave notably said that when negative thoughts began to find him during a race, he would give himself a mental slap. This technique is great for shooting down negative thoughts at the core. Finding a method that is both effective and sustainable is key.

Finally, repeat your positive alternatives to yourself, and use them to fill the holes through which negative thoughts may typically flow.

💡 PepTalk has a wealth of experts in its network; we can help ensure you and your team break those bad habits. If you would like to book Professor Damian for a PepTalk email us at to set up a free strategy call.

Culture Calendar

Success favours the prepared. That’s why we’ve compiled a free calendar of awareness days and weeks to support your business.

From health and wellbeing to culture and DEI, adding the calendar will keep you on the pulse of what’s happening and ahead of the game. Plus, it works across all platforms.

Culture Calendar