We are experiencing busy times that are impacted by the end of year deadlines, figuring out how and when to return to offices, and determining the new normal. Stress levels tend to rise. The auto-response is an emotional reaction. There is a healthier way to respond effectively. All it takes is conscious awareness and a commitment to try things differently, meaning respond differently.
Whether we realize it or not, we have auto judgments going on in our heads every day. Unfortunately, judgments tend to criticize. Curiosity followed by discernment gives the opportunity to notice any auto reactions so that we can effectively respond.
Here is an exercise to try to help recognize and rephrase some of the negative messaging (negativity bias) you notice.
For one day, write down all of the internal messages that disempower, and then write an empowering alternative message.
Here are some examples of how this works for some common challenges in professional and personal settings:
Negative message: “I don’t have time to X, so I won’t plan to change my actions or schedule.”
Empowering alternative: “I really want to find time to do X. What can be adjusted or prioritized today?”
Negative message: “They don’t have a clue.”
Empowering alternative: “If they really knew me… How can I speak up/share my voice/opinion?”
Negative message: “I don’t have what it takes to do X.”
Empowering alternative: “If X is important to me, what do I need to do to move toward accomplishing that goal?”
Negative message: “A hybrid team will not be successful because some people are ‘committed’ to be in the office and others are not.”
Empowering alternative: “What strategies can our team take to have an environment for creativity, participation, and inclusivity, and who needs to weigh in?”
Self-awareness is always the first step to shifting behaviors and habits that do not serve you.
It all begins with noticing the internal messages and reactions we experience. It is a top characteristic of emotional intelligence and can make day-to-day life more manageable especially in stressful times.