Psychologist Guy Winch notes that it is both possible and hugely beneficial to stop negative thoughts. “Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment,” he says. In this context, Winch uses the term “rumination” to describe the act of dwelling on negative experiences, circumstances, or worries. Though it’s easy to slip into rumination, you can just as easily change the channel in your mind. Every time you catch yourself beginning to worry, stop and intentionally think about something else. The mental distraction might be something completely unrelated, such as noticing the beauty around you or remembering someone’s act of kindness. You can take this technique a step further by using mental distraction to solve or cope with the issue that’s worrying you. Reframing the way you feel about the source of worry may allow you to see an opportunity to resolve the issue.
It’s particularly easy to give in to self-criticism when dealing with challenges. But Carol Dweck, Stanford professor, researcher, and author of the book Mindset, says that one or two simple words can help your mind refocus on potential rather than failure or frustration. “Just the words ‘yet’ or ‘not yet,’ we’re finding, give kids greater confidence and a path into the future that creates greater persistence.” Yet. Not yet. “How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice,” Dweck notes. “You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your talents or abilities are lacking. Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.” Rather than berating yourself for failing to achieve a goal, remind yourself that you just haven’t accomplished it yet. The power of yet is that it allows you to believe in your potential for success. It’s a tiny word that could make a huge impact on your mind-set.
I love this book of Emma Seppala. The title is “The Happiness Track. How to apply the science of happiness to accelerate your success”. It is smart and compassionate!
“The truth is that most of us are not kind to ourselves in our quest for success. We’ve been taught that to be successful, we need to play to our strengths, so we had better find out the things that we are innately good at and stick to them—because we are unlikely to overcome our weaknesses. If I am bad at math, I probably shouldn’t go into accounting or engineering. If I’m not a people person, I had better stay out of sales. And when we do run up against our weaknesses, we feel that we have to be self-critical. Self-criticism
will keep us honest about our shortcomings and ensure we stay motivated and on our toes. By always demanding better of ourselves, we’ll do our best. Recent scientific research suggests that these ideas are myths. There is no doubt that knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a good idea. However, the way you approach them can set you up either for success or for failure. The way you view yourself (do you believe your strengths are limited?) and the way you respond to failures (are you your worst critic, or can you treat yourself as you would a friend?) have a tremendous impact on your personal and professional lives. Understanding that you can build new strengths rather than limiting yourself to the ones you perceive that you have and being self-compassionate rather than self-critical will help you to be resilient in the face of failure, to learn and grow from your mistakes, and to discover opportunities you otherwise would never have found. As a consequence, you will feel grateful, be far happier, and your chances for success will increase manifold”.