Topic of the Month:
Reframing Your Thinking for Positive Outcomes
Many people struggle to define what makes them so upset or anxious when they have an important opportunity in their career. When they ask themselves, “What makes me so upset?” they think they can answer this question rationally.
Unfortunately, as they’re trying to answer this question, they often add issues that are, in fact, irrational. These irrational issues are not actually part of the real world; they exist only inside their own heads!
Much of this irrationality starts when people add “shoulding” – “I should be able to do this” or “I should have done that.” Then, they throw in some “what ifs” – “What if I do a terrible job?” “What if no one shows up?” “What if I bore my listeners?”
All of these “shoulds” and “what ifs” only serve to make them feel worse and don’t do anything to solve the actual issue of why a specific situation makes them upset.
An example: My wife is an example of someone who has been through this process. She is a highly intelligent person with a number of degrees and a successful career. And, she hates to speak in front of groups.
She claims she is terrible, getting uptight to the point of not being able to get words out of her throat. She used to say before she spoke to any group, “I am not a very good speaker,” and then deliver a wonderful presentation. Every time she spoke, she was marvelous. But, she didn’t see it that way.
She would constantly say to herself, “What if I do a terrible job?” “What if no one likes me?” “What if I can’t talk?” These would then be followed by, “I shouldn’t let anyone bother me,” “I should be able to give a talk to any group,” and “I should have never agreed to give this talk.”
If any of this seems familiar to you, you need some strategies to push yourself in a positive direction!
3 Strategies to Reframe Your Thinking to Create Positive Outcomes
1. Be Aware of Your Feelings:
The first step to a positive outcome is noticing that you’re feeling something negative that could stop you from being at your best. Do not ignore these feelings! The more aware you are of your feelings, the better you will be at noticing which feelings are irrational so you can deal with them. Pushing through these feelings just might be the difference between success and failure.
2. Recognize Your Interior Dialogue:
If you just said to yourself, “WHAT interior dialogue?” well, that’s the dialogue I’m talking about! Recognize what you’re saying inside your own head when you deal with stressful situations. What kind of language do you use? Are you fair to yourself? Do you focus on positive or negative ideas about your own abilities?
3. Stop the “Shoulds” and “What Ifs”:
If you’re looking for positive outcomes, you’ll have a much better chance of getting what you want if you eliminate these irrational expectations that start with the words “should” and “what if.” It’s important to notice these dangerous words each and every time they creep into your head.
“Shoulds” are put-downs. If you say, “I should have done this,” that naturally leads to the question, “Well, why didn’t you do it?” As soon as that question comes up, you’ll automatically develop a rationalization that explains your failure, or perceived failure. Your rationalization describes why you can’t do it.
Instead of “shoulds” it’s important to have words that reframe your thoughts. My wife uses “I’d like,” “I want,” and “I prefer.” Here are some examples:
“I’d like to have everyone I present to like me. If they don’t, that’s unfortunate, but it’s not terrible. And, I won’t be harmed unless I harm myself.”
“I want to do a good job and will put effort into it. But, if I don’t do a good job, I will focus on making the changes I need to.”
“I prefer to answer all of the questions brilliantly. And, if I can’t, I will not get down on myself or beat myself up.”
This style of reframing leads to much more positive outcomes for her, and it will work for you too.
Everyone has some activating event that sets them off. What’s yours?