When times are tough at work, you can find yourself locked into negative thinking. If left unchecked, this negativity will spread like a virus amongst your team and colleagues. Emotions move in a downward spiral, soon followed by performance and the long term results aren’t good, for you, the team and the organisation as a whole.
How do you know that you're thinking negatively? Perhaps you are fearful of the future, you put yourself and your abilities down, constantly criticise yourself for mistakes or automatically expect change to fail.
Although these negative thoughts may be fleeting and irregular, if they are left unchallenged they can become harmful. Thought Awareness is simply the process by which you rationally and detachedly observe your thoughts and increase your awareness of what is going through your head.
One way to become more aware of your thoughts is to think about a particularly stressful situation. Don’t attempt to change your thoughts in any way, but do write them down as they occur, also noting how they made you feel. Do it over a period of time (say, daily over a couple of weeks), patterns will emerge and you’ll able to identify the thoughts that are having the most impact.
You can then take steps to address them by looking at them rationally to assess whether the thought is reasonable and stands up to scrutiny. For example, if you’re worried about your performance, you could rationally challenge it by asking: do I need training to do the job? Do I have all the necessary information and resources? Have I prepared enough? Have I made sufficient time? Solutions will then start to emerge which you can act on and the negative thought loses its power.
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of generalising a one-off incident. A mistake doesn’t mean you’re rubbish at your job. A problem with a change programme doesn’t mean that the change will be disastrous in the longer term.