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Remember that you think and therefore you feel. There are many choices when thinking about any given situation. By changing how you describe the event to yourself, you can alter how you feel. Use the scenarios below as a guide to identifying what's happening in a given situation and then practice changing your thinking about events. It will take work and practice before some of these skills begin to become more automatic. Challenging and examining thoughts can lead to increased emotional contentment and happiness.
Perceiving the world as black and white: Not everything in the world is right or wrong, or black or white. There are many grays and many choices. Some are partly right or a better, if not perfect, choice.
Perfectionism: Everyone makes mistakes. Only through failure can we learn. Edison tried many filaments to create the light bulb. It may have taken you many tries to learn to ride a bicycle.
Pleasing others: It is pleasant when others are pleased; however, it is not possible to please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you no matter what you do. The most important thing is to like YOU.
Catastrophising: It would be nice if everything were to go well, however, it often doesn’t. If negative things happen, it is very unfortunate and even sad, but it is not usually a catastrophe.
Dependency: Everyone can learn the skills necessary to be independent unless they have suffered a major stroke or other debilitating illness. Learning new things takes time and practice; however, the effort pays off in feeling more positive about oneself.
Collecting Blame: It is not possible to control other people’s behavior and decisions nor is it possible to resolve emotional issues for them. The only one you can change is yourself. It is possible to support others emotionally, to care about others, and to offer some assistance. It is not helpful to anyone if you become overly responsible or emotionally consumed by others.
Dwelling on the dangerous events in the world: Constantly thinking about the negative produces anxiety. Worry ahead is not helpful.
Labeling: Calling others names (you jerk) may be momentarily satisfying; however, this process maintains anger and depression. Describe the event rather than label. (He dropped the ice cream on the floor.)
Life Must Be Fair: It would be nice if things went our way. However, life is filled with unfairness and unfortunate events. The more important focus is how to cope with life when it isn’t what we want.
Know someone who needs to beef up their emotional intelligence muscle? With LEAP, the Leadership Acceleration Program, we work with managers/leaders on these very things.
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.