How can our perspective on us and on our work environment influence our results and relationships?
After one year of Covid and lockdown how are you looking on what has been happening and how do you feel mentally?
I myself started off last year planning short-term and solving momentary problems like how to shift on-site coaching and training into the virtual world and how to balance business, homeschooling, familiy and partnership.
Sometimes I felt strong and able and sometimes simply being pushed and driven. Sometimes I saw myself at the steering wheel and sometimes I saw myself being tossed around not knowing where to turn next. This situation also influenced my thoughts, emotions and how I reacted on others and on situations.
Not feeling in control of my emotional state and my thoughts wasn’t me. At that time I came across a mental fitness training program. I have studied it and practice it since with great impact. Mental strength according to Positive Intelligence founder Shirzad Chamine is „the ability of your mind to manage your thoughts, emotions and actions in a positive and constructive way when being faced with difficult situations.“
Here are some ahas and quick wins for you to use right away:
Our brain is sometimes our enemy and sometimes our friend:
In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article summarizing research on human thoughts per day. It found out that the average person has about 12.000 to 60.000 thoughts per day. Of those thousands of thoughts, 80% were negative, and 95% were exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. So one of the tendencies of our mind is to focus on the negative and even repeat the negative stuff. There was another study of 2005 from Cornell Universtiy. Scientists had found out that 85% of what we worry about never happens. And from the 15% of the worries that did happen 79% could either be handled a lot better than expected, or the difficulty granted them a highly valuable learning. All in all, the conclusion is that 97% of our worries are baseless and result from an unfounded pessimistic perception.
As our fears often sneak in unconsciously, is there a way to control those unproductive thoughts and emotions?
Become aware of your mental traps and intercept your saboteurs:
The first step is become aware when those saboteurs turn up causing negative thoughts and emotions. If you can label them, you can control them and get rid of them. That’s why it is highly relevant to become aware of the assumptions and lies they tell you and of the negative impacts these saboteur attitudes, thoughts and emotions have on yourself and others. This helps unmask and dismiss them.
To only name a few: Do you know and recognize the hyper-achiever in you or others telling that you must be best to be worthy. Or maybe there is the stickler preaching perfectionism or a hyper-vigilant with chronic doubts who sees risks everywhere and cannot rest. Or what do your saboteurs want you to believe?
Stay in self-command mode
What is a good way out once you named and intercepted your saboteurs?
By consciously focusing on sensations you can actively shift from your saboteur brain where stress reactions reside to your sage brain where creativity and clear laser-focused actions prevail. By this, you run your brain rather than let your saboteurs run you.
Here is a little exercise to try out. It may seem silly and it is highly impactful, as personal experience shows and research proves. You can use your sense of touch to activate your self-command:
If you can, it’s more effective to close your eyes whilst doing the exercise.Take a few deep breaths. Now gently rub to finger tips against each other with such a tension that you can feel the finger tip ridges on both fingers. Do this for ca. 20 seconds. If thoughts come up gently let them go and focus on the sensation again. Now touch the device on which you read this blog and feel all the sensations on your finger tips – feel its texture, feel its temperature. Maybe gently move your finger tips so that you can sense more. Do this for ca 30 seconds. Now open your eyes.
What do you realize? Do you feel calmness or less mind-chatter? How was this little exercise for you?
If you want, repeat little sensation-of-touch-exercises throughout the day. Whatever you do, just shortly notice the touch. Notice the texture and temperature of the coffee mug you are holding or the door handle you turn or the elevator button you push or the keyboard you type on.
This gives your brain a little valuable break and puts you back in the driver seat of your brain. So you are more in charge of your thoughts, actions and emotions than your saboteurs are. And you may experience a difference in how you handle the challenges of your day.
Shift your perspective
Being more in self-command shifts yourself to more happiness using the sage perspective of seeing chances, gifts and opportunities in all your challenges instead of judging them as bad and dreading the worst.
What does happy mean? Ask yourself: Have I felt mainly positive emotions in the past hours like peace, gratitude, empathy, love, curiosity, excitement of creativity, joy of clear-headed action and the like? If yes, you could say you were happy. If on the contrary you have felt manly negative emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, shame, guilt, blame, self-doubt and the like, then you could say you were unhappy.
Try out what you can achieve taking on the sage perspective of positive emotions, being sure that every outcome and circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity. Look at the events of your day that causes you negative emotions and just unmask and label the negative mindchat as lie and let it go.
There is one psychological rule
Looking at a situation, your saboteur perspective is „this is bad“ and your sage perspective is „this is a gift and opportunity“.
The answer to the question, „which perspective is true?“ is: Whichever you believe becomes true! It’s worth trying.
I hope this article was helpful for you to try out new ways to deal with your challenges. For me mental fitness plays a big role as I experiences sustainable effects of practicing mental training on my results and on my well-being.
Dr. Uta Barbara Nachbaur an executive and career coach and trainer, is specialized in leadership, mental fitness, communication, conflict and intercultural navigation.
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