I’ve mentioned before that I’m a positive person. It’s not to say that I walk around with a perma-smile on my face. Sorry I have an image of Stepford Wives in my head. Forgive me for a moment; I just have to say that I didn’t like that movie at all. I will watch anything – anything with Christopher Walken in it, but why was this so bad?! Anyhow, I do have feelings, so sometimes things will get to me, but I do try to look for the positives in everything.

Do you find that your thoughts are negative more often than you’d like? For example, a friend gives you some advice, and you assume you’re getting criticized.  There is a sequence of actions that triggers this reaction. The sequence: an activating event (e.g. advice or criticism), your thoughts or views, and your response.

Let’s take a look at this sequence in an example set on the job.

The activating event: A manager provides the same critical feedback to two employees for delays on their project.

Response from Employee Ato their manager: “We got so far behind in such a quick time. I didn’t even realize how bad it was, but I can figure out what I did to cause some of the delays so it won’t happen again.”

Response from Employee B to their manager: “There’s not much we could have done differently. The timelines were unrealistic.” Afterward, Employee B says to Employee A, “What does our manager think, that I don’t have a life outside of this job and can keep working until I drop?  I can’t deal with it.”

Both employees experienced the same activating event but had very different reactions. So what made the difference? It’s the way they view themselves.

Like many people, you may not even realize you’re thinking specific things about yourself. So, the first step is to understand that what you think about yourself will influence how you act. Once that step happens, you can begin to change the way you think.

Let’s look at how these two employees’ responses might have been affected by their thoughts.

Employee A

  1. Activating event: Manager’s comments regarding the project performance.
  2. Employee A’s thoughts: “If I didn’t take so long working on one problem, I would have finished my part of the project on time. I know I can improve next time.”
  3. Employee A’s response: Disappointed but not discouraged.

Employee B

  1. Activating event: Manager’s comments regarding the project performance.
  2. Employee B’s thoughts: “I messed up and deserve to be corrected or probably fired.”
  3. Employee B’s response: Upset, nervous and defensive.

Recognize your thought patterns

positive thoughts

We all have an inner voice that guides our responses to events. Do you know what your voice tells you? Think of the last time you felt a negative emotion (you can write it down if it helps you remember the details).

Do you believe your thinking about the event was reasonable for what happened? Did it help you cope with the event, or can you think of some different ways that might have been more beneficial to you?

Taking control emotionally

Sometimes when you’re stressed, you may feel that you can’t control the events in your life. For instance, in our example, Employee B found the manager’s comments stressful because they felt inadequate for their role in the project. However, Employee A saw the comments as something to learn from and make improvements.

Some changes you can make in similar situations

Learn a more positive, “I can do it” attitude

Negative ways of thinking:

Try to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts:

The next time you start feeling upset or nervous over a stressful situation, stop and check if your thoughts are influencing your reaction. It takes some time to adjust, but for your emotional well-being, it’s never too late to tell negativity to “take a hike”.

My post, Tips to handle any challenge with positivity for more ways to think more positively.

17 Responses

Tell us what you think!