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Changing your thinking – it’s your choice

What is it about some situations that make you feel great/happy and other situations that make you feel upset or angry?

This boils down to three things:

1. How you perceive the experiences you find yourself in (and we all have slightly different perceptions of things - we all see things differently).

2. What you expect from these experiences. If you expect it to be a difficult experience then your thinking (and subsequent actions) may lead to that actually becoming the case. We all use past experiences to make predictions about how similar future experiences will pan out. Think about if you have ever found somebody to be difficult or awkward in the past, how does it affect your thinking regarding how future interactions might go with that person?

3. Choice. We are all subject to stimulus (things that happen to us) and only we can decide how we react at the Point of Choice (POC).




Now actually think of a real person you know who is usually a difficult person (in your opinion) and now think about what you are telling yourself regarding your next encounter with that person (be honest). If you are being completely honest then you are probably telling yourself that any future interactions with this person will also be difficult. Your mind has learned a set way of thinking regarding experiences with this difficult person and defaults to this (negative) thinking for each time you interact with them. Because your mind is expecting a difficult experience, it interprets the encounter as difficult. This may not be a 100% accurate account of the event but simply what you have convinced yourself of as fact. Don’t forget that everybody has their own programmes for different situations (including for encounters with you).

As most of us know, no behaviour (by behaviour I mean a repeatable, observable action) happens without thought first taking place. But, it is a cycle – our thinking is in turn affected by our actions. Think back to a time when you were angry and emotional – what were your actions and behaviours as a result of how you felt? What did those actions and behaviours do to your thinking? Did they make you feel better or worse?

So how do you start to change this thinking?

Here are two things to try:

1. Firstly what you need to do is change the way you behave in the encounter. Replace your negative thinking associated with the particular encounter to a new, more positive, way of thinking (this can be difficult but force yourself). By simply doing this you will behave differently when you are in the situation, and because of this, the other person's behaviour towards you will also change. These changes by both parties may be very small but they are changes none the less.

2. Secondly, a way to help change your thinking in this type of situation is to find something about the person that your genuinely really do like/admire, then find some common ground and work from that. In my experience you can always find something you like about everyone.

Don’t forget – it is only you that chooses how you react to stimulus/situations. Think about your thinking!

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About the author

Dave Dayman

Dave Dayman

I'm passionate about leadership. I believe that thinking is not only the most powerful tool that we own but is also the one thing we have total control over. Sometimes we just need a little help to change the way we in which we choose to think!