Let’s face it, we are all living busy lives. We have so many distractions and inputs that it is no wonder that our brain goes into overdrive and says ‘Noooo’.
The amygdala is the part of the brain that senses ‘fear’ and this happens when we feel we have no control over the factors affecting our environment. When this happens, our amygdala takes over and our emotional resilience is hijacked, resulting in emotional outbursts, that we are likely to regret.
I believe (and there is science to back this up) the ‘way you think determines the way you behave’ so, if you are a person who has constant negative thoughts playing in your head, it is going to impact negatively on your behaviour.
So, what can you do to change your thoughts?
- Ask yourself ‘ Is this thought true?’
Quite often we have thoughts playing in our heads that are assumptions. I call this mind-reading. For example, someone may look at you in a certain way and you read their behaviour as ‘they don’t like me’. We all have a need to ‘relate’ to our fellow man so, thoughts like this create a threat response in the brain. The result, anxiety kicks in as you become fixated about whether the ‘person likes you or not’!
Using this scenario, ask yourself ‘ is it true, this person doesn’t like me?’. The chances are you have no data to back up your initial thought, therefore you are creating unnecessary anxiety that will be impacting on your behaviour.
Whenever you have a negative thought, always ask yourself ‘ Is it true’, do I have any data backing up my thought. Once you realise that you were probably mind reading, you can let go of the thought and move on with your life.
- Move from Judger to Learner mindset
Have you ever had thoughts like the following:
- ‘He or she isn’t working hard enough’
- ‘My boss hasn’t a clue of the pressure I am under’
- ‘It’s not fair that I didn’t get that promotion’
- ‘My partner doesn’t appreciate me’
Our brain is always scanning the environment to keep us safe from threats. Therefore, we are 5 times more likely to see the fear in a situation. Thinking the thoughts listed above, create a mindset of judgement. When we are in ‘judger’ mode, we are ‘blaming’ others. This will cause cortisol to rise in the body and when this takes over, all logical thought is lost and our emotional centre (amygdala) kicks in.
Notice what happens to your mood and behaviour when your ‘judger’ kicks in. You will not be feeling good!
When you have a thought that is judgemental, notice it and before you leap into action, take a moment to reflect and use it as an opportunity to learn and understand the other persons point of view.
Take a look at the list we started with and, how you can turn the judgements into learning opportunities.
J= Judgement, L=Learning
- J = ‘He or she isn’t working hard enough’
- L = ‘I wonder how he or she is feeling about the work they have, maybe I can help them’
- J = ‘My boss hasn’t a clue of the pressure I am under’
- L = ‘I need to have a discussion with my boss about my workload, I will book a meeting with him’
- J = ‘It’s not fair that I didn’t get that promotion’
- L = ‘I have an opportunity to get some more training and experience, so I will be ready for promotion next time’
- J =‘My partner doesn’t appreciate me’
- L = ‘Maybe my partner doesn’t know what I need to feel appreciated. I will have a chat with him or her’. Maybe they feel the same about me!
Essentially the learning examples above, create curiosity. When we are curious about the other person or are willing to understand their view points, it creates a learner mindset. Far healthier than judger.
I hope these two tips help you to become more emotionally resilient. You are in control of your own thoughts and you have the power to change the way you think, so you can lead a healthier and happier life.