Tag Archives: thriving

Helpful, healthy language

A good reminder from James Clear on a simple shift in language that can help with healthy eating and with moving our ‘locus of control’ from external to more internal.  When we say “I can’t”, we are using externally focused language – something is preventing us.  When we say “I don’t”, we are making a choice – an internally focused choice.

I’ve used this latter language successfully for a number of years.  When I go out during the week, my standard response to being offered a drink is “Thanks, I don’t drink (alcohol) Monday to Thursday”.  It’s both a habit – I don’t even think about it – and it’s a healthy life choice.

Now I could take it even further, from negative to positive.  Instead of saying what I don’t do – drink alcohol – I could say what I do.  I could say “I abstain”, or perhaps “I drink water Monday to Thursday”, to make it easier for my hosts to know what to serve me.

The learning about helpful language is ongoing.

Will you stay or will you leave?

Fascinating article from researcher  Irit Alony, of Wollongong University, published in the Conversation today. She and her colleagues applied the successful divorce-prediction criteria of John Gottman, from the University of Washington, to see if it could predict which employees were more likely to leave their organisations.

If I understand the research study correctly, those who express negativity such as: “disappointment, withdrawal, hostility, or contempt” (Alony, Hasan & Sense, 2015) are more likely to leave both a marriage and a workplace.  In contrast, those of us who learn the following coping mechanisms are more likely to stay (in both a marriage and a workplace):
– Balancing the good with the bad (e.g. with at least a 2:1 ratio of two positive comments for every negative, aiming towards a thriving relationship ratio of 5:1)
– Genuinely accepting that bad things (e.g. annoying people and systems and rules) are just part of work life
– Avoiding lengthy discussions of the negatives (e.g. learning to shift conversations to focus on how they coped or what they learned so that we/they can do better or differently next time)
– Expressing hope (e.g. that you can directly influence and/or you can cope with whatever happens to you).

And the best way to increase the positives, is to thank others for their contribution, rather than just assuming “that’s what they are paid to do”.

So ‘thank you’ to my Thought Ratio colleague, MIchelle Carlyle for this link.

Why you can’t worry your way to success: What to do instead

I love Sonya Lyubomirsky and Chris Tkach’s article on Dysphoric Rumination.  It explains perfectly, in academic speak, why you can’t worry your way to success and what to do instead.  I trust I’ve done them justice in this layperson’s summary.

The worry cycle goes something like this:
You have a Problem – you are not getting a result you want.
You worry that can’t solve it.
You feel bad / stuck / depressed.
You think and worry more, which doesn’t solve the problem.  Instead it sensitises your mind to pay attention to negatives, so you remember negative instances when similar things haven’t gone well and you think negatively about what won’t work if you tried to take action.
You don’t take action, because your energy is low from all the pessimistic thinking and because you assume a low likelihood of success, so it doesn’t seem worth the effort.
The problem remains or escalates.
You feel worse.
You conclude that the problem is overwhelming and unsolvable and that you are not good enough or not skilled enough to solve the problem.
You take no action, so you can’t disprove your assumptions.
You feel helpless and hopeless and give up.

Fortunately, there are ways to intervene:
You have a Problem – you are not getting a result you want.
You worry that can’t solve it.
You feel bad / down / depressed.
You physically distract yourself by doing something enjoyable to shift your mood. When you are in a better mood, you are more likely to think of possible solutions.
You get out of your head and phone (or email) a friend who asks you ‘possibility questions’: “What if there was one small thing that you could do to get things moving in the direction you want? I wonder what that is?
You get out of your head and take a small, safe action – as an experiment – to challenge your negative assumptions and learn what works.
You reward yourself for any action you take and note your learning and insights about what might work, rather than evaluating that “nothing works”.
You break the cycle of worry and depression through action and learning and reflection, rather than reflection, reflection, reflection.  

What you can do – today:
1. If you’ve been worrying, send this blog link to a ‘friend’ as soon as you’ve finished reading. Then reward yourself for taking a positive action.
2. Phone your friend and ask them to help you. You may ask for permission to whinge for 5 minutes before they ask ‘possibility questions’.
3. Take action – ideally do something tiny today.
4. Reward yourself for taking action, no matter what the outcome.

If you haven’t got an accessible friend:
Email me and I will be your question buddy. Send an email to sharon at apassion dot com dot au  – with the phrase “Oh woe is me” in the header and one sentence to summarise your problem. I will exchange emails with you to ask the possibility question and find one tiny action you can take to get moving.

If you have a friend or work colleague who is worrying or stuck with a problem, send this article, then phone them and ask permission to help them, or let them know they can email me.

Let’s create a culture of possibility and action rather than worry and stuckness.

Can personality be changed?

Today, I was asked by a colleague whether I believe that personality can be changed.

The question coincided with my explorations into how neuroscience and the theory of neuoplasticity is changing psychological theories, especially theories of personality.

To find out what the “traditional” view of personality is, I looked to the American Psychological Society.  On its website it states: “Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.”

My view is that personality is a stable pattern of thinking and behaviour (built over many years of thinking and behaving in ways that reinforce the pattern) and there are some things that have a genetic basis. But the research into neuroplasticity and the Rob Kelly Thrive program have shown me that any pattern can be changed with effort, belief, skills and resources.

So yes, I do believe that personality can be changed.

Do you?

Guilt is Good

Have a look at a great video clip from NLP master trainer Steve Andreas about guilt.

He gives us some really good reframing: If I’m feeling  guilty about something rude I said, I can ask myself “in the moment what was more important – speaking up or being nice?  If I acknowledge that I’ve chosen speaking up for myself as more important, then I must be a person who lives my values.”

So I’ve reframed the thought of violating a value in order to satisfy another value to mean I am a person who lives my values.  Nice.   It’s counterintuitive – an interesting benefit of guilt.

If I”m feeling really guilty about not “being nice” then that means that value is also really important to me.  So a values clash can help to clarify what’s important to me. Another benefit of guilt.

Maybe I haven’t learned how to achieve both together yet, but by knowing that both values are important, I can choose to make amends, to show that I’m also ‘nice’.  And using ‘intelligent regret’, I can reflect on my behaviour and choose to do something different in the future that combines both values.  This gives me problem to solve rather than wallowing in embarrassment. That’s a third benefit of guilt.

In conclusion, guilt is good.  Especially if you do something different as a result of it.

Thanks Steve – very helpful.