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Stress is everywhere right?
It's in the work environment and home environment. It’s in our relationships with our partners, kids, bosses and colleagues. It’s in politics (hey there recent US election!), economics, world issues, and COVID-19. It’s all of THOSE issues triggering all of the stress our lives isn’t it?
YES, these external elements cause us stress, but guess what?
There’s another cause as well, and one that’s more hidden and personal.
This is the (daily) stress that comes from our OWN destructive thinking. Our own fearful, doubting, criticising, and second-guessing thoughts. It’s our negative mindset and perhaps lack of boundaries.
Step One: STOP
When we think these thoughts, or worse get them looping around in our heads, we need to STOP and not do anything at all. Why? Because this thinking often leads to feelings of lack, confusion, and discontent.
We become paralysed by our own doubtful thoughts and the stresses that come from these negative and often looping self-talk. We stay stuck battling inside our heads all day.
We feel and create that stuckness because we’re not moving forward and we're not moving back.
We’re half in and half out. Not committed and not rejecting it either.
And then we start with the shoulds. I should be doing this, I should be doing that… And then the shoulds build up… and then we cringe inside because we're unable to listen to the part of us that says, “Yes! Go do that thing that you want to do.”
Enter Step Two: OBSERVE
What if once you stopped you then became the observer of your thoughts? What if when you stopped you could catch that thought when it starts? What if you could catch it, observe it and work to reframe it and ask it where it comes from?
Let’s try it.
For one day (why not today?) decide that you’re going to be an observer of your thoughts. You’re going to catch just one negative thought before it spirals. You’re going to stop and follow it and keep following it until you know where it comes from. And once you know where it comes from, you’re going to explore it and be curious about why it’s here. And then you’re going to consider whether or not it’s a thought that tends to show up a lot in your life.
Another thing you could try is catching that negative thought and deciding to reframe it to a positive thought instead. Reframe it by taking the thought from “negative” or “bad” so that its context is changed so you can see the positive, or at least the neutrality of it.
Step Three: BOUNDARIES
In working with clients I’ve learned that it’s important to help them set healthy boundaries around (for example) people in their lives that trigger them emotionally or in other ways. You know the people. The ones who are vying for your attention. The ones calling you and contacting you, needing you now, now, now. Everything is now. Everything is urgent.
Well again, let’s try something.
For one day (perhaps today?) try NOT responding to all those (non)urgent cries for your attention. Put your email on auto-responder. Let the phone call go to voice mail. Change your status to offline. Silence your phone (or at least the notifications). Choose one person, some people, or everyone to implement these actions and boundaries with. The important thing is that you protect your time, energy, concentration, and thoughts by building healthy boundaries to prevent that stress from creeping up.
And Step Number Four: AFFIRMATION.
You know I love positive affirmations, and use them daily in my journal and life. Start with one positive affirmation, just one. Practice writing it out and saying it to yourself or out loud.
Now the trick with affirmations is to say them, write them, and use them daily. To repeat. Repeat. Repeat until you believe and there is no doubt in your core.
I want you to think, write, and say aloud one or more of the following:
Repeating your affirmation(s) is guaranteed to shift your negative beliefs and quiet the destructive thinking that so often leads to stress.
After reading over these four steps, how do you feel? How do you feel about acknowledging the external stressors while also taking responsibility for your OWN stress-inducing thoughts? For reframing negative thinking? Setting up boundaries? Reciting affirmations?
Yes, it’s not easy to do straight away. And yes it will take practice. Start slow, go gentle and know that you’ve got this.
Now pop a comment down below or send me an email to let me know how you’re going or how I can help. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter as well so you never miss any stress-busting learn-to-thrive tips again.
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