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Do you want to know the first big secret about workplace stress? People create their stress themselves. And they can provide stress relief for themselves if they want to. This might sound very tough but in large measure it is true. In another article I explained negative self-talk and how this process creates unhealthy mood states.
In this article I will tell how to get rid of negative self-talk to relieve stress. Recently, I heard a psychologist quoting research on self-talk in five year old children. I don’t know how the data were collected but the conclusion was stunning and depressing.
Apparently, five-year-olds have more than 500 self-talk sessions per day. That’s fascinating but what is disturbing is that more than 80% of these conversations are negative. This means small children tell themselves 400 times a day that they are no good, or deficient, or unable to do something. How sad.
If kids’ thoughts are dominated by self-criticism, imagine how frequently adolescents and adults engage in this dysfunctional cognitive behavior. For many people the negative self-talk relates to body image. I’m too fat. My butt is too big and floppy. My boobs are too small or they hang too low. I haven’t seen my pec or ab muscles since I was 18. I’m too short. My hair is too curly/too straight. I wish I dressed as well as ___ and looked as hot as he/she does. And so on. Do you get the picture? Do you engage in this sort of thinking from time to time?
We have similar negative self-talk at work – increasing our stress levels. I don’t have the right skill set to do this job. My boss believes I can do the job – but I know I can’t. I wish I could talk as well as ___ at Board Meetings. I sound like a dummy. I don’t get the jobs I apply for because people don’t think I am (a) competent, (b) impressive, (c) efficient, (d), effective, or (e) all of the above.
We can reverse this cycle of dysfunctional self-talk. We can say NO to negative self-talk. We can engage in what is called thought stopping and thought replacement. We can say: “When I feel I am starting to self-criticize, I will change the topic to something positive that I have done or will soon be doing.” Oddly enough, you DO have the power to control your thoughts. Even more unusual, you CAN reduce stress through these techniques.
You need to understand your thought processes (called metacognition) and YOU, the positive you, needs to take charge. It’s not easy but if you want to fell less stressed or burnt out, and you want to find effective stress relief and stress reduction strategies – start by controlling your self-talk. Try it and you might be pleasantly surprised. Good luck!
write by Kelsey