The Impact of Mindset
“Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstance, to choose one’s way.”
I love this quote by Viktor Frankl from his book, ‘A Man’s Search for Meaning’ as it reminds us how, no matter what the situation, we’re free to choose how we react to it. We have a choice about our attitude, whether we’re optimistic or pessimistic, whether our glass is half full or empty. The reality is that our automatic reaction to events is shaped by our belief system, values and our emotional arousal at the time. Stress creates black and white thinking whereby our good intentions to stay calm, react sensitively and make wise decisions shoot out the window quicker than the words we might say and then regret.
Beliefs are views that we hold about ourselves (e.g. feeling capable), about others (e.g. I am superior [aggressive], I am inferior [passive] or I am different and equal [assertive) and the views we hold about the world (e.g. how I think about my place in the bigger picture).
Imagine experiencing an adversity such as a ‘failure’ at work. How do you react to that? When we’re working in stressful situations and feeling overwhelmed we are often inclined to use limiting beliefs that hold back our achievements, for example, “I am useless at presenting!” The consequences of this view could be a sense of anxiety, self-condemning, even blaming others, which in turn increases cortisol in our brain and reduces our functioning further. None of these outcomes are helpful for performing well now or for future presentations. If we hold onto unhelpful thoughts, we can create that reality. Being aware of our limiting beliefs gives us control.
Imagine experiencing a ‘failure’ at work; take 2. This time you choose to use an empowering, stimulating belief, for example “I can’t always get it right. I’m usually better than that.” The simple shift in our belief changes the consequences considerably. Contrast our negativity and resulting stress above with the outcome, “I will learn from this and move on.” That is acceptance you’re human and is motivating and purposeful.
It is powerful when you become conscious of your belief system influencing your attitude and behaviour and to think about this ABC model of Adversity – Beliefs – Consequences . It might be useful to identify some empowering beliefs that can help you reframe negative situations into more positive opportunities, such as:
- I can change what I believe
- I can make the most of new opportunities
- I can learn something useful from each situation
- I can adapt to new circumstances
- I do not feel confident about X yet
Think about a time when you have experienced an activity/ event that did not go well and identify your limiting belief that could underlie the situation. What were the consequences? Now identify a stimulating, empowering belief to replace it. What would you do differently if you held this new belief? What benefits would you get? This level of self-awareness can be critical in improving our performance, how we relate to others and how others perceive us. In essence, it’s about emotional intelligence.
For further information contact Lisa, chartered psychologist, It’s Time for Change at email@example.com
For training on aspects of management, stress and resilience, mental health and confidence and assertiveness, see our workshops at Build Your People. The next course, Managing Thriving Teams, is on 27 June at Oxford Science Park.