Getting out of your OWN way!
We undermine ourselves, and make assumptions about what's possible, that restrict choices in our lives, and let our fears stop us from even trying---
The room is silent as you ready yourself. You plot out your battle strategy as you slowly and methodically place each piece of your armor in its proper place. You steady yourself under the weight, as you rise to face your skillful foe. You know every movement and every thought that they know, for you have battled this opponent day after day. Your opponent has a name that you know oh so very well. That name is your name. That name is YOU!
There are plenty of challenges in our lives and some of them are of our own making. Ok, I’m being kind here. Most of them are of our own doing! We undermine ourselves, and make assumptions about what’s possible, that restrict choices in our lives, and let our fears stop us from even trying to reach our goals and dreams. Like a pig that is unaware of the mud that he is wallowing in, being stuck in old ways of thinking keeps us blind to the many opportunities that surround us outside of that mud hole.
How can we get unstuck? How do we get ourselves out of the mud we so readily find ourselves playing in? It won’t occur by thinking and doing things the same old way, but, by shedding the negative thoughts and self-defeating actions that we have found to be so predisposed to in times of difficulty.Every day of our lives we have thousands of thoughts that race through our heads; some positive and some negative. Most of us carry over many of these thoughts into the next day. For some, there is a tendency to dwell on the past and over-analyze what we could or should have done. “Analysis equals paralysis” as the old saying goes. If those thoughts are not supporting you, you will no doubt have trouble getting the results you want and overcoming the challenges along the way. Being able to manage your thoughts is at least 80 percent of the battle in being successful. The very first thing that we need to accomplish when we are ready to change and move out of our own way, is to recognize that we are the ones blocking the doorway.
The following is a list of ten Forms of Paralyzing Thinking. It’s these thinking patterns that perpetuate the obstacles of getting in our own way! Most of us live with these thoughts day in and day out, playing out over and over again like a broken record. As stated above, it is essential to recognize these unconscious patterns of negative thinking.
For some, we have developed ways to influence our thoughts and act on them with positive results. Discover which of the following forms of paralyzing thinking infuses your mind and robs your motivation to get out of your own way. Just becoming aware of these thoughts, and observing them, will weaken and starve their grip, as you begin to uncoil these negative thought patterns.
1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking
You see things in black-or-white categories. Anything short of perfection is seen as a total failure in your eyes. You make one mistake and it becomes a deal breaker! You have a slice of pizza, and think “I’ve blown my whole diet” and then polish off the entire pie. When this plus or minus type of analysis occurs, it’s usually because of all-or-nothing thinking.
You know this is happening when words like “always” or “never” enter your thoughts. You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. A sales person hears “no” from a prospect, and thinks, “I’ll never get a sale.” You look at situations as “Universal Facts”. “Everybody knows this is the best sales strategy”. These over-generalizations blind you from seeing new, different, or even better possibilities.
3. Mental Filter
You pick out a single negative detail and dwell and analyze on it exclusively. As a result, your vision of reality becomes gloomy, like a clear day turning cloudy. For example, you receive many positive comments about a sales or marketing presentation you made, but one person says something a bit critical. You obsess about his reaction for days, and ignore all the positive feedback that you did receive. You attend a sales meeting and focus on what is wrong with the meetings facilitation, missing the positive aspects of the meeting.
You discount positive experiences by saying they “don’t count”. You do a good job and minimize it by thinking you could have done better, or that anyone could have done as well as you did. This extracts the pleasure out of life, and makes you feel inadequate and devalued.5. Jumping to Conclusions
You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. There are two forms of jumping to conclusions: (A) Mind reading: without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you. (B) Fortune-telling: you predict things will turn out badly. For example, before a presentation, you think “I know I’m going to freeze up and forget what I was saying”, or “They’re going to hate my speech.”6. Magnification
You exaggerate the significance of your problems and shortcomings and you minimize the value of your desirable qualities. One time after a seminar, I Brad, was working with a participant regarding his fear of presenting to his co-workers. I asked him to shut his eyes and imagine himself doing a presentation to his co-workers. I could visibly observe that he was anxious, so I asked him what thoughts were going through his mind. He replied, “Every single one of my co-workers is thinking, I don’t know what I’m talking about”. Every one of them, I asked? This was a classic case of magnification.
7. Emotional Reasoning
You assume your emotions reflect the way things really are. “I feel uncomfortable asking for a raise, so it must be an inappropriate thing to do”. Or, “I feel a deep sense of inadequacy and if they want excellent service they should go to my competitor”. Our emotions are like the weather. They can change day to day and moment to moment for a variety of different reasons. Our emotions are valuable, because they point to our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. To equal measure, they are often not reflective of what’s really going on. So, we need to be careful about how we respond to our emotions by examining the evidence with our intellect.
You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped for, or expected them to be. “Musts,” “ought tos” and “have tos” are similar offenders. These statements reflect rules that we have adopted either explicitly or implicitly. When these statements are directed against our selves, they lead to guilt, frustration and storytelling. When directed toward others, they often lead to anger, frustration and jealousy. They rarely put you in a practical position to change behavior. Instead, they will often make you feel either rebellious (and give you the urge to do the opposite) or hopeless (and make you want to do nothing).
This is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser”. You might also label yourself “a fool” or “a jerk”. This labeling is totally irrational because what we do is not who we are. These labels are useless thoughts that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem.
10. Personalization and Blame
Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that is not entirely under your control. A classic example is the person who regularly takes the blame for other’s unhappiness or anger. Although we may be able to influence other people’s feelings, we certainly are not responsible for them. We can only keep our side of the street clean, not theirs. Another example is when a mother finds out her child is having difficulties in school and thinks, “This shows what kind of mother I am”. Personalization leads to guilt and feelings of inadequacy.
Some people do just the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they may be contributing to the problems in the first place. “The reason I have such difficulty at work is because I have an unreasonable boss”. Blame doesn’t work because other people will resent being the scapegoat, and will toss the blame right back in your court. It’s like a game of hot potato. No one wants to get stuck with it.
Becoming aware of these types of thinking is the first step to creating change. Once you’re aware, you can begin to “shift” your thinking and engage more rational responses to the events you encounter. Then, as you condition this new way of thinking, you’ll notice a significant improvement in how you feel about and respond to these types of triggering events.