“You are doing better than you think you are” is something that I frequently remind my coaching clients. Unfortunately, we can get used to metaphorically beating ourselves up on a regular basis and forget just how much progress we have made – and all of our wonderful talents and skills.
The brain is wired to focus on the negative (pain) much more strongly than the positive (or pleasure). This is due to its primary objective to keep us alive and reproduce: something that feels bad could threaten our existence, so it makes sense in brain terms to pay much more attention to anything perceived harmful.
A big part of what I do is championing my clients’ success which includes them overcoming fear by completing challenging actions that they did not think that they could do – and would have never set themselves.
Change is hard (and doing things differently takes effort and more energy which is why we can resist it) so celebrating what may be initially considered small steps is vital to support the brain in keeping motivation high with the right balance of neurochemistry. Of course, often the first step is the most difficult to take…
Recently, a leader asked me: “I know that I am more glass empty, how I can focus on the glass being half full instead?”
The good news is that even if you think that you are predisposed to be more of a pessimist (and research suggests that some humans are: they make good lawyers and health and safety directors!), you can train your brain’s attention.
Just as you can teach your brain to focus on jumping to view every digital notification and interruption (ahem, I am still supporting executives unnecessarily stressed-out and permanently anxious as a result of this energy and productivity sapping habit), you can direct your thinking to focus on what has gone well. Do it daily and it becomes a new behaviour.
Repetition drives the default choice of your brain in the future. This increases confidence and supports a change in your belief about yourself and your abilities.
Here are 3 easy questions to help:
What has gone well or brilliantly at work / home today?
What would I like to acknowledge myself for?
What would I like to celebrate today / this week?
… and yes, you can ask these questions to others to encourage them to reflect on their strengths and success too. Find out how to give effective and brain-friendly acknowledgment in my previous article here.