Changing Your Thinking

A great deal of stress can be caused by the way you perceive the events in your life, not what's actually happening. For instance, planning a birthday party for your child can be enormously stressful for one mother, while another may find it a delightful pleasure.

Changing the way you perceive things isn't easy and requires constant practice. Many of these thought processes are built up over a lifetime and then become ingrained as habits, automatic responses — often emotional — to what is going on around you. Sometimes, it takes the professional counseling of a trained therapist to change the way you think. This type of therapy is known as cognitive behavioral therapy.

But that doesn't mean you can't work at diminishing negative thoughts on your own. According to MindTools.com, a website devoted to helping people excel in their careers, the first step is to cultivate greater awareness of your thoughts and thought patterns. What kinds of events trigger these negative thoughts? Who are the people involved?

Next, you need to apply rational thinking and facts to your thoughts. Consider this your reality check. Finally, you need to come up with affirmations that counter the negative thinking with positive thoughts.

For instance, let's assume you are always worried that your boss doesn't like the work you're doing. When he doesn't greet you in the morning, you take it as a sure-fire sign that he's displeased with your latest assignment. But weeks go by, and he says nothing. Instead, he gives you another challenging task to take on.

Alert

It's normal to worry about things like an upcoming presentation or a big party you're throwing. But constant worry over routine everyday events may be an indication of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), especially when the worry becomes chronic. Fortunately, GAD can be treated with medications or therapy. But untreated, GAD can lead to full-blown depression.

In this case, the negative thinking stems from worries about job performance. For a more rational look at the situation, you need to ask yourself a few rational questions. Did I give it my best? Was I well prepared? Could I have really done any better? Then, consider the facts. If your boss was truly displeased, wouldn't he have said something? And why would he be giving you another plum assignment?

Finally, you should adopt some new thoughts to change the old negative ones. Some good ones might include, “I always do my best. I am always well prepared. I have a history of doing well at my work.”

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