Despite an increased focus on employee mental health, and well-being and efforts by employers to offer support and services, employees continue to struggle. Recently released State of the Global Workplace 2022 report, identified that “60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable.” A quick search on any internet platform will identify mental health and well-being as a main priority for employers and another quick search can find a long list of ways to improve employees’ mental well-being. However, despite this increased focus on employee mental health, and well-being and efforts by employers to offer support and services, employees continue to struggle. The question to each of us across all leadership roles in business needs to be: Why? Why, despite these efforts, are employees continuing to remain emotionally detached in record numbers?
We have developed a six-lesson online course to help you manage your mental health in the workplace, in this post we are going to delve into one of these lessons Accurate Thinking.
Are you your own worst enemy?
There’s an old saying about learning to play poker that goes “Be afraid of the person sitting in your seat.” This means that your thinking and decisions are more likely to impede your success than anything another player, the cards, or even bad luck can do. In short, someone learning the skill of good poker playing must be aware that they are likely to be their own worst enemy. If only this problem was limited to the game of poker.
When it comes to better mental well-being, a person is most often their own worst enemy when it comes to their natural self-talk. Specifically, it’s the overwhelmingly negative and harshly critical type of thinking that nearly everyone is prone to. Thoughts like I’m not smart enough, they don’t like me, or I’ll never get the job are so common for most of us that we don’t even question them, but we absolutely should because negative self-talk is a harmful, vicious cycle. For most people, it works like this. Negative – or inaccurate – self-talk invariably leads to emotional reactions. Making decisions based on emotional reactions instead of clear thinking frequently leads to unfavourable outcomes. And, of course, the more unfavourable outcomes you experience the more it reinforces future negative self-talk. In this lesson, we’ll discuss how accurate thinking allows you to more effectively direct your thoughts and behaviours, breaking this cycle. Developing the skill of accurate thinking will build your confidence, give you more emotional control, and help keep burnout at bay.
Break the cycle with a new perspective.
So what’s the first thing a successful poker player does at the start of a hand? They separate the good hands (the ones that they should play) from the bad hands (the ones they should ignore and discard.) This is precisely what someone learning accurate thinking must do, as well. In any situation, your own negative self-talk is likely to be the first and most powerful thought you have. It’s unfortunate that this is basic human nature, but that also means it’s nothing to feel bad about – it happens to everyone. In order to change this, you must learn to identify what is factual, relevant, and useful (a good poker hand) versus what is false, irrelevant, and should be ignored (a bad poker hand.) This is crucial because once you learn to assess situations based on the relevant facts it becomes much easier to ignore that harmful self-talk which can lead to bad outcomes.
The 3 C’s: a “trick” to more Accurate Thinking.
Breaking out of ingrained thought patterns isn’t necessarily easy, of course, but thankfully there is a trick for remembering what to do. It’s called The 3 C’s and it stands for Catch, Challenge, and Change. When you’re in a potentially difficult situation and that first invasive thought pops in – “I’ll never get the job!” – you must remember to catch it before it takes hold. This disrupts your hardwired emotion-based way of assessing a problem and helps make you aware of just how often negative (and almost always inaccurate) self-talk derails you. Now that you’ve broken the previously iron grip of that first invasive thought, you’ll be able to challenge it. Ask yourself if there’s any real evidence that your self-talk is true. It may not feel natural at first, but if you can be honest and fair to yourself, you’ll probably discover that your negative self-talk isn’t true. Or helpful. Or necessary.Once you’ve realised that your characteristic self-talk isn’t supported by facts you can then begin to change your behaviour. Almost immediately you’ll feel less anxious, your self-doubt will begin to fade, and you’ll feel more in control of yourself and your life.
To access this course and enjoy a free sample lesson https://courses.childrensmentalwellbeing.ie/courses/avoid-burnout/
With Thanks to our guest blogger Mike Parker.