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 actions. Click 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-confidence. Click 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.
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