It’s unavoidable, sooner or later you hit a sticky patch and it seems there’s no getting out of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s rage, boredom or irritation, negative emotions have a way of holding fast. But you don’t have to give into them. You have to take action – and quickly, so as not to lose months of time being stuck and unhappy!
Use the guide below to send your troubles on their way:
First of all, what’s bothering you? Really identify what’s going on – you can use any means. Whether it’s consulting your journal, going for a long walk, or talking to a sympathetic friend, get to the heart of this matter. For example, if you think the issue is that your co-worker irritates you, is he or she the real problem? Dig a bit deeper. Is the real issue something you wish you’d done instead of her? Or perhaps, you’re not taking responsibility for yourself in the workplace. Do you need to take initiative, to talk directly to your boss about an issue, or to recognize that it’s time for you to move on? Whatever’s going on inside, find it – and don’t settle for the easy answer, because that’s rarely ever it!
Once you’ve identified the root of what’s bothering you, don’t push this realization away. Literally, sit with it. Let it sink in, experience it. On some level you may have been aware of the underlying issue – it’s likely you didn’t want to acknowledge it. This is especially true if the issue requires you to do something you don’t want to. For exactly that reason (discomfort motivates change) allow yourself this feeling. Trust that it will help you to grow and find the answer/adapt to the change.
3. Recognize Resistance
As the cliché goes, what you resist, persists. Using our example above, it may have been your unwillingness to stick up for yourself that’s really troubling you. By letting things fester, inevitably they feed into themselves and grow. By taking charge of your circumstances and recognizing areas where you feel resistance, you’ll be quicker to overcome it – and experience less negativity in the process. Take responsibility for yourself, even if it means accepting blame.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t very good reasons for the status quo. Maybe your co-worker shouldn’t take credit for your ideas… but deep down you know you are responsible for sticking up for yourself and creating change. And this is scary. Yet, the Dialogue step allows you to prepare yourself for beginning to take action. Write down a reason for doing things exactly as you have been, then write a response from the point of view of someone you admire – say, Mother Teresa, who was tough as nails when it came to doing the right thing.
5. Conscious Choice
After re-reading the dialogue you’ve had with yourself, are your ready to choose, really choose, to do things differently? If so, then break it down into steps. If you need to communicate with your boss, then the steps might be first: send an email asking for a meeting. Second: organize paperwork or a proposal to back up your position. Third: outline ‘talking points’ you want to cover and bring them to the meeting. The scarier the action, the more important it is to turn it into lots of baby-steps.
Whatever steps you’ve chosen to take, it’s likely that you’ll need to do them again and again. Create a blog, or a daily journal to keep track of progress. Just tracking progress keeps momentum going.
Congratulations, you’re starting to take control of your negativity! Next, all you have to do is watch for the gradual re-emergence of the behavior. It is likely a habit and for most of us will often need to be put through the ‘7 steps’ a few times before it disappears entirely. This simple framework, Identify, Experience, Recognize Resistance, Dialogue, Conscious Choice, Momentum and Vigilance can break down some really substantial blocks, long-standing problems and a feeling of paralysis. Keep this tool by your side and there’s nothing you can’t tackle.
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