In the book, The Happiness Trap, author Russ Harris says 80% of everyone’s thoughts contain some sort of negative content. Just like any muscle, your brain needs to be trained to manage these thoughts so that they don’t consume you and make you the negative Nancy that no one wants to be around at work. This can be particularly hard in an office setting where you’re dealing with competing deadlines and pressure to perform.
Here are 4 quick tips to help quieten your negative thoughts in the workplace.
#1 – Avoid jumping to conclusions. Things are rarely as bad as they seem at first. Take a deep breath – I’m serious – Take an entire 5 second breath in and then out, and then use your energy to think laterally to find a solution.
#2 – Assume best intentions. I know this sounds a lot easier said than done, but it can make all the difference when you’re combating niggling negative thoughts clouding your mind. Emails are a great example here. Tone is very difficult to convey in an email. For example, the sentence ‘Can you come into my office when you have a moment’, can seem like a friendly invitation or a potential dismissal depending on your frame of mind. Try to assume the best. If the situation is not so good, maintaining a positive focus will help you work through the situation in a more professional and effective manner.
#3 – Don’t get stuck in an approval-seeking vortex. Excessive need for approval is unhealthy and unrewarding. Instead, make a point to do your job, do it well, and find satisfaction within (Glassdoor)
#4 – Reframe your situation. It can be easy to ruminate over a situation and spiral into a black-hole of negative thoughts. Try reframing your situation to pull you out of being ‘in the grip’ (MBTI). For example, Charlie was recently pulled off a project she had been working on for the last 6 months without much explanation. Her immediate response was to be angry, which quickly moved into anxiety about her performance. By reframing the situation in her mind Charlie could see the reduced workload as an opportunity to give her full attention to another project she’s been working on. When she thought more about it, she has realised that she was quite stressed having to work on both projects and didn’t feel as though she could give them both 100%. Soon enough Charlie was excited by the news and had already begun planning how she was going to use the extra time.
What techniques do you use to combat your negative thoughts?