This blog post is written by guest blogger Gretchen Wright, Strategic Projects Manager at McGraw Hill.
I’ve been working on ways to manage my negative thinking in order to increase my personal resilience and improve my ability to lead. I have been using Maureen Metcalf’s “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking” as a tool to support my success.
When I am stressed, I tend to go into negative-thinking mode. This type of behavior causes me to become more easily stressed, starting a vicious cycle of negativity and more stress. In an effort to develop better positive coping strategies, I began following Metcalf’s video and model, and have been extremely happy with my results and the process.
This is how I’m applying her model:
- Awareness of negative thinking and trying to stop it takes continual effort. I work hard to recognize negative thinking as soon as possible and “attack” it by making myself look for a positive in the situation. By following Metcalf’s “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking,” I’ve made huge strides. I’m not “free” of negative thinking, but I am more adept at catching myself when I “go there” and reversing my thought process.
- I’ve found that I subconsciously take a deep breath when in negative or difficult situations. To persistently recognize and correct negative behavior, I am taking a deep breath as an automatic process in my reaction to negative situations; effectively allowing myself to take a step back before reacting.
- I have stopped treating everything as a crisis. By not stopping in my tracks and forgetting everything else to respond to a “problem” that someone brings to the table, I’m able to focus on the “what’s urgent.” Keeping perspective takes me out of reaction mode. In moving from reactive to proactive mode, I can gauge the severity of an issue and respond accordingly. I don’t allow another’s behavior to cause a knee-jerk reaction from me. This helps me focus on what needs attended to, what needs some guidance, and what can wait.
- While it can be difficult to find the positive in a troublesome situation, I’ve found that if a take a step back, and look at the situation as a challenge—and not a negative—I am more able to constructively approach the issue and move forward. Every morning, upon waking, I give myself three things to be grateful for. Those are my “happy thoughts” for the day. When I am ready to stress out over something, I review my happy thoughts, refocusing my mood to the positive, and then look for the positive, or at least the “we can do this” in the situation.
- Following these behaviors allows me to slowly move from a negative-thinking mind-set to a new level of gratitude. I am a happier person and have noticed a significant drop in my stress level. Of course I continue to encounter stressful situations, but following the steps that Maureen has charted allows me to better handle those situations in a positive and productive manner.
Thanks to the “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking.” I have found that this behavior is just as contagious as negative thinking. My positive reactions and mind-set encourages and models those around me to react in a similar manner, making for much healthier and happier work and home environments. I am very grateful for this tool to handle negative thinking, and with Maureen’s guidance and expertise, I have learned to be a more positive, happy, and grateful person.
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