Disrupting Your Negative Thoughts

Image Credits : Lalita Raman

Jacinta has sent her proposal to her boss. She has worked over the weekend on this proposal making sure all the details had been covered and that there is no room for any errors. On Monday late morning she gets a call from her boss asking her to come over to his office. She goes in with a heavy heart. She observes her boss reading her proposal as she is entering his room. He finishes reading the report and gives it back to Jacinta stating, ‘Jacinta, your proposal is good, though I would like you to refine these two sections. The client meeting is in an hour and please make sure you have it ready much before that’.

Jacinta is disappointed and she feels she should have done better. She thinks that her boss is not going to like her coming to the client meeting. She feels that her boss won’t trust her with any such important projects in the future. She knows that he has lost confidence in her. She is so lost in this negative mindset that she fails to attend to another task with her heart and soul. She in fact loses a deal with another key client and this gets her into a further negative vicious cycle.

Clearly, Jacinta has blown the situation way out of proportion. Her negative monologue has turned a suggestion for improvement to an extremely disruptive thought process.

Have you seen people with similar behaviors? How about you? Would you have reacted the same or differently?

Thinking affects our feelings and in turn our beliefs and actionsClick To Tweet

What are these thinking traps?

1. Magnifying - you magnify the issue. You minimize your own strengths and your ability to believe in yourself of rendering a task or job. You magnify it to an extent where even some of the future events become certainties in your mind. In Jacinta’s case, her negative mindset has made her conclude that her boss will not trust her with any important projects in future.

2. Blanket generalization - you think that just because an unpleasant thing has happened before, it will always happen. Let’s say you miss the bus when you are in a hurry to get to your client’s office. You believe that this will happen to you every time you need to get somewhere urgently.

3. Perfectionist and “all or nothing thinking “- you set high standards for yourself and others. When you hear suggestions for improvement you see it as, you are not good enough and you could not render a simple task well. You start telling yourself you should have checked the report or your work again or should have written it better. Jacinta failed to see her boss’s remark as a suggestion to improve few sections. Her negative inner talk started to tell her what she should have done so that her proposal would have been accepted without the necessity of any refinements.

4. Jumping to Conclusions: you conclude negatively despite no evidence to support your belief. In Jacinta’s case, she believes that she is going to be told by her boss not to attend the meeting with the client. The fact is he hasn’t stated so nor has she clarified nor is there any evidence that he doesn’t want her to attend the meeting with the client.

How do you avoid falling prey to your negative thinking? Click To Tweet

1. Track Your Inner Dialog - Keep a journal of your thoughts when something doesn’t go as per your expectations. How do you react to this stressful situation? What were the consequences of your reaction to that situation? What beliefs did you form and how did it affect your thinking and behavior thereafter?

2. Analyze Results - Once you have written down several such daily activities and how you behaved, ask yourself and observe if there were any repeated patterns in the way you think and act. Which of these beliefs or behavior have led to specific consequences that made things worse?

3.Distractor – You have seen how your negative thinking affects your behavior and actions. How do you interrupt your negative thoughts? It is unlikely that telling yourself to snap out of the negative thoughts will work effectively.

A positive distraction like walking away from what you are doing or concentrating on your achievements in the past in challenging situations or talking to somebody who can inspire you is what you need at that moment. Even asking yourself How Dare I allows you to snap out of your negative thoughts?

Disrupting your negative thoughts allows your brain to snap out of the stress and negativity and thus helps you to think clearly.

Surround yourself with positive people who can inspire, encourage and believe in you to bring back your self-confidenceClick To Tweet.

Once you snap out of the negativity, ask yourself

- What happened?
- what did you do well?
- what could you do better?
- if a suggestion has been given by someone else like your boss, is there an element of truth to that?
- is the feedback destructive or constructive? If destructive, why bother? If constructive what can you do better? What lessons did you learn?

You need to look for ways that will help you stay committed to your goals and evaluate:

-Are you a product of your negativity? Click To Tweet

-How can you grow through your challenges and yet keep up the optimism? Click To Tweet

If you shroud yourself with negativity most of the time, and keep giving credence to your inner critique, you may consult a coach or mentor who will assist you in overcoming your negativity. Overall you need to believe in yourself and your strengths.

For Coaching, Speaking or Training let’s connect.

The Vulnerability In Relationships

I was watching some Ted Talk Videos over the weekend and one of them was on The Power Of Vulnerability. 
This got me thinking about relationships. Relationships are made or marred many times on vulnerability.
There have been numerous cases of abuse, bullying, domestic violence and all this is evidence of putting someone in a vulnerable state or taking advantage of them.
Yet, at other times when we are in a crisis, may be stranded on account of bad weather conditions or losing a job in a close down or merger situation, some of the best relationships are formed during such situations. “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences according to Brené Brown in her book How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.
Vulnerability here does not mean being submissive or weak. It involves uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure which is well articulated by Brené Browne in her book.
When we see read or hear stories, see videos, hear presentations or empathize with the events in our daily life it is the vulnerability and authenticity which enables us to make that connection. Connection which is an important part of relationships is what gives meaning and purpose to our daily life.
Relationship is about:
1.Respect - you can shine your light but it is not necessary to knock down someone else or dim another’s light. Even if the relationship is not something that you favor, respect is an important element. Respect yourself enough to avoid being taken advantage of. Surround yourself with positivity and compassion for yourself and others.
2.Empathy - the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions, and direct experience of others is an important element in any relationship.
3.Love – the most profound emotion that is an essential part of any relationship.
4.Appreciation – in the world we live today, we forget to appreciate ourselves, our relationships and the moments of life. Appreciation is unconditional and does not contain words like “But”, “However”.
5.Trust – establishing rapport is the start of good relationships. Trust is the pillar of any relationship be it with spouse, parents, siblings, shop keeper, colleagues.
6.Integrity – To me it is the Congruence of I Believe, I Value, I Think, I Feel, I Say, I Do.
7.Obedience – is a matter of the heart. It is about what you feel from within and to be accountable and responsible in a relationship.
8.Nurture – to do and be all that is necessary to grow and enrich the relationship.
9.Space – the little space we allow and create in each of our relationships, be it a friend, spouse, sister, brother or parents, keeps it healthy and allows the relationship to nurture and grow.
10.Honesty – truthfulness, sincerity and frankness in who you are.
11.Interesting – compassion and appreciation for ourselves and others keeps the relationship interesting. Compassion is born of awareness of the choices we are making and the impact of each of these actions on others.
12.Power of Communication – know when to be silent and when to speak up. Not communicating breaks the best of relationships. Conflicts, differences of opinions arise in every relationship. The intent is to disagree agreeably and keep the relationship healthy.  Listening is important to build relationships, because that is where you show empathy and that you truly care.
13.Support – strength in a relationship lies in the support you give to that relationship and that you receive. The ebb and flow of relationship requires mental toughness and support.
Relationship is not about opportunities and using it for those opportunities. Relationships to me means someone with whom you can share your completeness, be it a friend, a life partner, sister, brother, mother or father. A relationship should be one that recognizes you for what you are, challenges you, and allows you to grow.
Let your relationships be one in which you
 
Let yourselves be seen
Practice gratitude and be joyful
Love with your hearts
Are kind and compassionate to yourselves and others
Your willingness to be vulnerable and accept vulnerability establishes and maintains the connection and the authenticity in relationships.
What are some of the ways you have been courageous to be vulnerable and made a connection?
For Individual or Group Coaching, Speaking, Workshops and or Training please connect with Me
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Responsibility Is A Choice

I was at a lobby of a hotel last week waiting for a business meeting and I happened to hear a rather interesting conversation between a young lady and the guest relations manager of the hotel. As the lady was getting up to see something that the guest relations manager was showing, she collected her belongings at which point the manager mentioned to her, “Ma’am don’t worry about your belongings. They are safe.” The lady smiled, thanked him and said “I understand sir, but I rather be responsible for my belongings and what happens to it instead of entrusting them to someone else.”

Responsibility, I thought, was well-defined by this lady.

Responsibility

→Is accountability,

→Is taking care of your thoughts, actions and duties and

→Is answering for your words and actions.

    No matter whether you are at work, walking on the road, at the gym, on holiday or interacting on social media.

Responsibility is a word that equals Respons(e) + (A)bility. Each of us have the ability to make a choice. “A choice” for the response we give to each situation or events that take place in the journey called life.

Choose to take the actions that create the results that you will desire if they were applied on you.

How can we be responsible?

1. Not to shine your own light by dimming someone else’s. This applies to every aspect of your life.

2. For every stimulus, you respond to, you have the power to choose how you want to live your life and behave in every moment in the space that you occupy.

3. You are the only person who is responsible for your thoughts and decisions. Integrity, compassion, empathy, attitude control are important elements of responsibility and it doesn’t matter what role you play in your life. Attitude control is part of your responsibility.

4. When you hire people hold them accountable for their actions or inactions.

5. Do not assume and do not make generalizations and resort to stereotyping.

Life goes on…. And you must take personal responsibility because that is within your control.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of- Jim Rohn.

Does Your Behavior Reflect Who You Are or Desire To Be?

 

→ How often are you inspired by a person whom you meet or read or hear about? → What is it about them that makes you listen or to follow what they are doing or learn a lesson or two from them?

A friend of mine, Carole called me last week saying she wanted to meet me. Carole is one of the most cheerful person I know and on that call she sounded hassled, frustrated and dejected.

I know she had suffered a huge financial loss recently having trusted someone she thought was a friend. The trust that she had placed on this person was misused, mishandled and every aspect of her belief and friendship was broken. I had learnt from her that she was making efforts to get her money back and the process had been none too easy.

When I met her that day, she shared with me her experience with a person whom she had met with regard to getting her money back.

This person whom she met is wealthy, well-connected and this is a known fact among most people in the city we live. Now you would think, this person would have some class and it is not necessary for him to be boastful about his wealth, his connections, number of times he has had an expensive dinner and how influential he is.

However, listening to her narrate the details of the meeting with this person, I started wondering

♦ If this person knew what self-worth was?
♦ Did he feel comfortable in his own skin?
♦ Why did he not allow his act to prove who he was?
♦Did he think that the only way to impress was to rant about his wealth and his connections?
♦ What did success mean to him?
♦ Why the desperation to prove who he is?

His behavior indicated a great sense of insecurity.

I place my value in the character of a person in the way they act and behave and not on the display of their wealth, connections and their titles. I realized why my friend sounded so exasperated when she called on me.

♠ Key Reflections ♠

 Do you let your actions impress or your talk?
 Have you paid attention to your talk to listen ratio ?
 Is it possible for you to win someone’s heart by a smile, by being there to listen and being authentic and human
 Do you spare a moment to think about moments when you were in a vulnerable position and had self doubts? What did you want amidst those challenges?

Interestingly, he had mentioned to my friend that he was doing this in the interest of goodwill. However, listening to my friend narrate the conversation with this gentleman, I didn’t see any such indications in his behavior.

I wonder if people like him ever ask of their behavior

 Am I being true to myself?
 Why do I do what I do?
 Is inflating my ego more important than being human?

Leadership is not about titles or display of wealth or your power and control. People come and go, titles and other add-ons are short-lived. However, a person is remembered for their character and the way they choose to behave. Our test of character is in the most vulnerable moments and the choice is entirely ours to make. Awareness is an important ingredient to act in character. Awareness not only about self but others and empathizing with the situation is imperative in any form of communication.

♣ Key Reflective Question ♣

How would you want to be remembered ? Someone who just boasted about their connections, titles, and their power or someone who inspired others, helped people along the way, get alongside them because you cared.

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When The Going Gets Tough

“I’m stuck.”

“I feel I’m running on a hamster wheel with no scope to get off. “

“I’ve no time to think or look at anything else because I’m always swamped with so many things I’ve to do.”

How often have you felt this way or heard your friends, partners, colleagues say this at various points in your day or their day?

Several of my coaching relationships start at this point.

We all go through this at several points in our life or at specific points in our day.

Is it a regular phenomena or something you feel at specific points in your day or specific periods of time at a stretch?

If you look around you, you’ll realize many people are stressed out or at a breaking point.

What are these stressors ?

Is it with work?

Is it with some transitions that you are going through at work or in life?

Is it with overall life in general in terms of your dreams and priorities?

What is the cause of these stressors? 

Is it fear of being dispensable and losing your job or not being able to advance in your area of talent? Or being forced on account of lack of choices ?

What about your day-to-day stressors? Is it because you are not taking the required break ? Are you facing the fear of missing out, if you are not seemingly present in what you are doing ?

What is the impact of these stressors?

- are you being thoughtful in your responses on email and other forms of communication?

- do you tend to not pay attention to the tasks that you are doing and to the people around you ?

- how often do you play the blame game in these moments ?

- do you feel threatened and sense of fear or a fight or flight mode?

Why does this happen – our brain is complex and research from various neuroscientists are discovering more and more that the parts of the brain work together as a symphony, so as we separate one part out, we have to remember that it doesn’t work in isolation. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the executive center controls our ability to understand, think, decide, analyze, memorize, inhibit and recall.   So the PFC is vital to our daily survival, and yet there are many factors (environmental, hormonal, and genetic ) that can impact how well it works. The activity of the PFC Is also extremely energy-consuming.

If anything internal or external is impacting the functioning of the PFC, the activities relating to the 5 things above become harder and harder. Decisions will be harder to make, you won’t understand things as easily and inhibiting behaviors, or emotions will be harder.

Most of us are used to reading a proposal, at the same trying to understand it, possibly recall something from previous information. The more we add to this mix, the tougher it gets for the PFC to manage.

And one of the biggest drains to the PFC is inhibition, humans have the ability to socially control behaviors and emotions. And we need this to be able to function. These inhibitions could be in the form of not deciding to drink another cup of coffee or  go to dinner with a friend since you have to complete the task at hand.

Social Control is draining to the brain, and that thrown in with the other activities of the PFC fuels the drain. The more drained we become, the less effective we are at being able to understand, think, decide,  question, memorize or recall.

The more the stress/threat to the PFC, the greater the chances of our amygdala (flight or fight response part of our brain ) to take over, thus increasing our emotional response, and reducing our ability to use the PFC in general.

Do we need to take breaks ?

Research participants were nearly twice as likely to give the correct response to a complex decision-making problem if they were distracted by a simple three-minute number-matching task before being asked for their answers, says a team led by Marlène Abadie of the University of Toulouse in France. A more-demanding distraction had no such effect. Extracted from HBR

How do we get away from these breaking points or stressors

1. Self awareness – do you know your limits? How comfortable are you in saying No? Self awareness is your knowledge, moment by moment of what is going on within you, what is your emotional state, and the choice you make at that moment on how to behave.

2. Self Regulation – are you setting your priorities ? Do you schedule your day and prioritize ? Do you tend to react to every phenomenon that comes by your way during the day? Self regulation is having a degree of present moment self-awareness.

3. Self generation – how often do you reflect and renew? Do you question your beliefs and assumptions and ready to challenge them and move on? Self-generation is about creating alignment between moment to moment behavior and action with the desired outcome.

Do you take downtime, no matter how busy a schedule you may have?

Leadership success goes beyond your talents, skills, knowledge and experience. All the talent and skills are of no use if the moment by moment choice in terms of your behavior and action is not mindful.

When the heat is on and the going gets tough, are you on a reactive behavior as a leader or are you one who takes a calm, focused and balanced view? Do you encourage your team and help them refocus, thus building the trust.

The mental fences or shackles is what we set for ourselves. Learn to connect with your inner self and focus on your vision but allow yourself to take breaks.

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Values Are Like Fingerprints… Are You Leading With Your Values?

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman

It is Friday evening and you are looking forward to your long overdue vacation. You are working on the final touches of your proposal to get a new line of business approved. The proposal is almost ready barring some details on some legal challenges that you are awaiting from your legal department. You receive the legal opinion and when you read it, you realize that a key element is missing. Not considering this aspect might hurt the franchise of the business in the future. The only person aware about this is you and none else.
What would you do?
Would you rather let it go because you’ll never be found out or blamed or would you listen to your inner voice which tells you how important it is to highlight this specific legal risk.

What is this inner voice that whispers to you at various moments in your day and life. A whisper to the effect “There is no way you can do that. it’s not right”.

Each of us have core values whether we realize it or not. Core values is what is imbibed in us from the day we are born. Some values we instill in us as we are growing. Values sit within our memory and are deep-rooted. They are not written anywhere but are those which we live through our behavior and actions.

Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do. ~Elvis Presley

You are your personal brand. Personal brand is not just about you being a CEO or CFO or Fashion designer but it is what you are in what you do and how you choose to show your values in your career and the various roles you perform.

Key questions on Values – For the full post refer LINK

Is “MOTIVATION” a Scam ?

Who Is Awesome ?YOU ARE

Who’s Awesome ?
YOU ARE
PHOTO : LALITA RAMAN

 

One of my friends takes every chance to state on Twitter, in his daily conversations and probably in his own thoughts that, “Motivation Is A Scam.”

You have had a tough day at work, you come home hoping to unwind and relax. However, your daughter who was slightly unwell develops high fever and you end up spending the entire night at the hospital. You have to go to work the next day since you are trying to finalize on some important deals and meet some deadlines. You are not in the best framework but still manage to get through your deadlines when half way through the day you are told you miss the deal. What drives you up the wall is that the reason you lost the deal was absolutely silly. You are at your lowest and your state of mind is such that it is reeling in negative thoughts. You have been through a series of such bad patches and you force yourself to get out of this negative vicious circle.

You know what it is like continuing to be there and you think back to your WHY and what you believe in ? What does this sound like, to you ?

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal directed behaviors. It can be considered a driving force; a psychological drive that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. For example, hunger is a =motivation that elicits a desire to eat. Motivation has been shown to have roots in physiological, behavioral, cognitive, and social areas.”

More often than not motivation is telling yourself that a greater reward is awaiting if you continue to believe in your “Why”. Most of us believe that our feelings cause our behavior. However, research indicates that feelings often follow our behavioral choices which follows our thoughts. So if we choose to get out of negative thoughts we can control our behavior too. For all this to happen there needs to be a reason for each of us to do so and this reason is Motivation. Not surprising that one of the most popular themes on the Internet is on personal development and growth. However, the tips and articles can only be inspiring and useful if you decide to change and have the inclination to do so.

Motivation will remain a scam if the burning desire to change or do something meaningful is lacking within you.

We can control our behaviors by controlling the words we speak to ourselves and thoughts that we engage in. I find that if I use words and thoughts that engage, challenge, encourage and empower, I am able to move forward. Non-stop exposure to negativity by way of words, thoughts or company we are in disrupts our memory, attention, and judgment. When we speak to ourselves and others, words that express confidence, faith, and hope without sacrificing the truth helps to inspire others and yourself. Try it.

When does motivation become a scam?

  • If you start to sell trash in the name of inspiring others.
  • If you don’t live your words
  • If you aren’t engaging with people in real discussions
  • If you think you know it all and stop listening to others
  • If you aren’t helping someone who is struggling with being stuck in a negative vicious circle.

Life is about living and each of us go through our share of struggles in life. Our inner self has to be the biggest motivator and in moments when we struggle we take aid from friends, family and true inspiring stories. My biggest motivation and learning is from real life stories and how some people despite all odds get what they aimed for. An example in the attached you tube.

Coming back to this friend of mine, despite his continued belief, he is doing an inspiring and motivational show !

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. 
Norman Vincent Peale 

 

 

10 Hurdles To Emotional Learning

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity ~ Dale Carnegie

When I say Emotions, you almost immediately associate ‘Anger’ and ‘Sad’ as the synonyms.  Emotion is the mental state and this could be positive or negative.

There are seven major positive emotions : desire, faith, sex, enthusiasm, hope, love, romance.  And the seven major negative emotions are : anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition.

Our brains harbor a lot of emotions and it is the negative emotions that is worrying.  The amygdala  is most commonly associated with fear and anxiety.  Each of us have a chronic or habitual emotional level that determines the overall well-being or satisfaction.  If a threat is perceived,  the amygdala tends to hijack the reasoned response process.  We have certain triggers-things that cause us to have an emotional reaction and elicit our innate ‘fight of flight’ response.  This limits our capacity to think clearly and causes us to move to default behaviors that may not be skillful or effective.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the cognitive ability involving traits and social skills that facilitate interpersonal behavior.  The four main components of EI are : Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management.

Our emotional level, thus is the manifested frequency level of everything and anything that is real (perceivable) to us in our world and actual life’s experiences.

Have you wondered as to Why are these negative emotions triggered?

1. Change  results in discomfort and stress – a lot of us expect life to be easy and when challenges and hurdles come along, it overwhelms us and may cause negative reactions.

2. Human Being rather than Human Doing - we forget many times that what really matters in each of our lives is what we are, what we build and what we share.  Living life with a passion and being your true self is the most important.

3. Relationships – many times we tend to chase people though they may have shown no interest in building and maintaining relationships. In our busy lives we ever so often forget to make time for those who matter the most.  We allow our pride and ego to be the mainstay of relationships and taking those, who have been with us through thick and thin,  for granted.  This leads to disappointments and triggers a lot of negative emotions.

4. Allowing our mind to control us – life is not perfect and sometimes we allow a bad moment, or a bad day to take control of our state of mind and the reactions to other unrelated events of the day.

5. Help – not asking for help when you need it desperately.  Each of us need help and cannot survive in isolation.

6. Know when to walk away and when not to give up - many times we hold onto things without asking ourselves the utility value in the same.

7. Surrounding ourselves with people who make us unhappy and drain our energy out – ignore those who hassle you, stalk you, embarrass you and step beyond the boundaries of decent behavior on social media and in real life.

8. Not being accountable & responsible - not walking the talk which leads to distrust and guilt. We loose our identity by not learning to say,  ‘No’ resulting in over committing and under delivery.

9. Not taking a break- many of us get into the rigmarole of  doing too much without pausing. In that we live without enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer. We are stressed out, irritable and a vicious circle ensues.

10. Focusing on past – allowing our past to continue to dominate us to such an extent that we become victims of it.  We focus on the negatives, loosing ourselves in the problem.  More often than not,  we repeatedly point to our unhappy circumstances to rationalize our negative feelings. This is the easy way out. It takes, after all, very little effort to feel victimized.   But the negative thinking and behavior hurts only one person the most and that is “You”.

So how do we deal with our Emotions especially those that trigger a negative response.

Adaptability is all about recovering from the anxiety  & adversity that change initially brings & then having the flexibility to move ahead vigorously.

I find that one way to practice this idea is to write or think about a good experience. Not only does this remind me that there’s life beyond bad feelings, but it also serves as an emotional anchor.   I find my memory can become a positive emotional reference point, to remind me of the range of possibilities when I am at my worst feeling down and out.

Refer my post on Twelve Ways to Inspire Yourself When You Are Feeling Down and Out

The role emotions play in shaping thinking accounts for a large part of why we see a failure of good thinking in most leaders.  You are free to choose behaviors that are truly in your own best interests.

We all have so much to give. We just need to consciously choose to access and share it.  When we give good vibes, good thoughts,  and a smile, we generally get it back.  Recognizing emotions is the basis of self-knowledge and interaction. An emotion comes up to the conscious level when we are ready to manage it.  I like to think emotions as colors, some simple, and yet others are blends.

Emotional memory management enables us to manage our emotions in a way that will produce more positive outcomes.  It is the “habits of mind” that reveal intellectual character.  Please watch my video on “Emotional Blindspots‘.

The 3 core development steps for all Leaders are:  Knowing Yourself, Choosing Yourself and Giving Yourself.  What do you think ?