As the demands placed on us both professionally and personally, increase on what seems like an almost daily (or even hour by hour) basis, I have seen a steady rise in requests for my full and half-day resilience workshops.
These are structured courses which provide delegates (of all levels) with easy to use tools and techniques specifically designed to increase resilience (mental toughness/emotional intelligence). Teaching skills which enable them to manage the stresses of modern-day living, gaining greater control over both their professional and personal lives.
In this and my next two articles, I will share my three top tips for creating immediate, long-lasting change; enabling you to build your resilience, and deal more effectively with the extremes of today’s world, in a constructive way.
You and Your Thoughts
Most people never consider where their thoughts come from and, therefore, don’t realise that they can control them. It’s accepted that we have up to 75,000 thoughts per day, and up to 95% of those can be the same as the day before. So, if you’re a negative thinker/worrier, that’s a whole lot of negatively!
Here’s the thing, YOU create every thought you have, they aren’t plopped in by some superhuman being! The good thing about knowing this is that you don’t have to live with a negative thought; you can change it. The hardest part is actually noticing you’re thinking something that isn’t serving you, especially if that’s your default.
Changing Your Thoughts
To change your thoughts, firstly, check if the thought has a message, e.g. is there something you should be doing but aren’t? (Incidentally, managing procrastination will be covered in a following article.) Unfinished ‘things’ have a habit of coming back to haunt us until we do something about them. If this is the case, either do the thing as soon as possible or create a workable plan with structured timelines for its completion.
If there isn’t a message, simply change the thought…
IMPORTANT: You can’t have two thoughts at once, it’s impossible. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that if you deliberately think of something else, the original thought won’t be at the forefront of your mind.
As soon as you notice an unhelpful/negative thought:
1. Say out loud ‘STOP’ or ‘CANCEL’ or literally wave the thought away, purposely changing it to something different. That can be anything, e.g. what to have for dinner/your plans for the weekend. It doesn’t really matter what you think about (as long as it’s positive); deliberately thinking about something different, interrupts the old pattern (habit) of thinking. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, slowly building a new habit – they say it takes 21 days to create a new habit.
2. Get up and do something else – motion creates emotion. Changing your physiology is another excellent pattern interrupt and a brilliant way to shift your focus. If you can go for a walk (especially in daylight and where there’s some greenery), it has been clinically proven to improve mood by releasing endorphins (feel-good hormones).
In my workshops, I physically stand up and sing ‘Let It Go’ – complete with actions – when I’m teaching this subject. I can’t sing at all, so it acts as an unpleasant but funny anchor and pattern interrupt. As a result, it sticks in the minds of delegates, making it easy to recall and use to control their unhelpful thoughts going forward.
P.S. I realise that for many people stress and anxiety runs very deeply and the ‘positive thinking’ described here may seem impossible. If you’re feeling low, please reach out to me in total confidence or someone you trust. (Samaritans call 116123) It really is good to talk.