Have you ever experienced that the feeling of being unsatisfied, unhappy, invaluable was due to you being in the wrong environment? Perhaps due to the ‘wrong’ people, task requirements processes, or leadership style?
Then, you’ve changed your job – therefore changed the environment, and to your surprise, after a while, you’ve started feeling similar to your previous experience?
Well, guess what? That very likely means that your emotional discontent isn’t only due to the wrong environment.
There’s another essential aspect that influences our emotional contentment – our behavior and the underlying beliefs that we have about the situation and ourselves.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your character,
Your character becomes your destiny.”
How we behave very much depends on our pattern of thoughts about the situation and about ourselves – our beliefs.
Hence, you may change the working environment, but if you don’t do anything about your behavior and beliefs which are guiding your behavior, sooner or later, very likely you’ll face the above emotions; emotional discontent.
Therefore, it’s crucial to become aware of your beliefs on your situation and yourself to be able to change your behavior.
Then you can start to adapt your beliefs (thoughts) that don’t work for you, and your emotions and feelings will change accordingly, enabling you to behave in your favor.
It’s often not the situation itself that causes the way we react, but rather the beliefs we have about the situation and ourselves.
Beliefs are the foundation of our personal knowledge. They help us understand and anticipate how people are supposed to be and behave and explain why things happen the way they do. They give us a feeling of truth. They are reliable and strong, and they’ll often cause us to react to situations quickly, like a reflex.
What’s surprising is that we don’t always know what our beliefs are and usually don’t take the time to dig below the surface and find out what’s going on.
Why is it so important that you understand your beliefs?
Your beliefs direct your feelings and emotions. If you believe something to be right or wrong, that will cause an emotional response for you. And your emotional response impacts your choices, how you behave. and interact with others.
If you have a limited view of how things have to and should be, you are limiting your possibilities of how to get the most out of your life.
Doing your own impossible is all about breaking through and disproving the beliefs you have that are keeping you playing small. It is about constant testing and experimentation to help you expand your own self-imposed limitations.
Once you acknowledge your beliefs that are detrimental for your daily performance and well-being, you can redefine your beliefs about what’s possible, which will open you up to a larger number of opportunities in every avenue of life.
The purpose of becoming aware of your beliefs is to help you identify your own core beliefs that may be preventing you from taking (the right) actions to achieve your (career) goals.
The relationship between stress and beliefs
Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any work and workplace can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. Work-related stress can be caused by various events.
For example, the demands of someone’s job (such as hours, expected numbers to achieve, or responsibilities) are greater than he or she can comfortably manage, conflicts with co-workers or bosses, boring work, lack of autonomy, constant change, lack of support, bad management practices etc. Sometimes, we become so used to experiencing stress, it just becomes the norm.
What is important to understand is that sometimes a situation might cause you stress, whereas, at other times, that same situation is handled with ease. Therefore, we can’t just put the blame on the situation itself, but it is on you to find out what is the root cause of the stressful experience.
Whether we get stressed or not depends mostly on what we believe about a situation and ourselves.
When our beliefs are well-founded, they don’t limit us; instead, they help us make an accurate sense of things that happen.
When they are distorted and inaccurate, they limit us and cause us to misinterpret what we see and experience. In most cases, we create a negative explanation of the situation.
Consequently, the negative experiences usually impact our (negative) emotions, and impact our behavior – we behave differently according to whether we are stressed and/or angry or calm and relaxed.
For example, you hoped to have a one-hour long discussion on your work-related issues with your manager, but he dedicated to you only half an hour, and besides that, all of this time, he seemed to be somewhere else in his mind.
Now, there are a couple of possibilities for what you believe about this situation and, consequently, how you behave afterward.
Because of his behavior, you believe that he thinks that your work is not so important for spending his valuable time on you. Even though you don’t have all the information about what is going on in his life, you are convinced that the reason for a shorter meeting is you – you believe that you are not worthy enough. This belief might cause you to feel invisible, rejected, frustrated, angry, which consequently has a negative impact on your self-confidence and behavior. You lose your motivation, your thoughts become muddled and cloudy, and your work actually ends up taking longer and being less effective and productive.
There is another scenario of the same situation. You believe that your work is very important for the organization, but your boss probably has currently many things in his life (maybe he has a hard time with his own manager, perhaps he is extremely overloaded with his work, or he might have some problems with his wife, or…). Your manager’s behavior has nothing to do with you, so you feel sorry for him. You might offer him your help, and regarding your own work-related issue, you look for help somewhere else. In this case, your manager’s behavior definitely wouldn’t cause you any negative emotions (stress-related) and have a negative impact on your behavior. Contrary, because of your compassion and independence, he might value you even more.
In reality, you can’t always avoid the tensions that occur. Yet you can take steps to manage stress.
Understanding WHY and HOW you experience stress is one of the key factors that help to build self-awareness.
Changing your stress levels requires you to get clear on WHAT and WHY pushes your buttons so you can create strategies to deal with these situations in a different way.
➡ Identify Your Stress Sources
➡ Understand How Stress Affects You
➡ Learn Your Stress Signals
➡ Recognize How You Deal with Stress
➡ Understand WHY you experience a situation stressful – identify beliefs behind stress
➡ Manage Stress
➡ Start by tracking your stressors
If you want to become aware of your beliefs, especially beliefs that may not be empowering you, it does take some time, and as those beliefs are already integrated into you, it might be even more difficult to recognize them on your own.
Nevertheless, a perfect mirror to your limiting belief is your negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings.
Start by thinking and analyzing some stressful situations that happened in the past, and then convey this kind of awareness to future situations. Explore ways of your thinking or beliefs that occur during this experience, specifically the ones that may not be empowering you.
This process will help you to discover what is underneath the situations that cause you stress, and once you find out these patterns, you can start effectively managing negative experiences – your behavior, thoughts, emotions, feelings.
On this discovery, you might find thoughts like “I’m not that special.” “I’m too old.” “I’m not persuasive enough.” “I‘m not worthy/good enough.” “I’m not that clever.” These beliefs are not working in your favor, but once you recognize them, you can start working on reprograming them.
THOUGHT DIARIES: Start with tracking your stressors
First, think and reflect on at least five past situations related to your career and work when you had a negative experience. The more situations you can think of, the better.
Take your time to identify which situations created the most stress and negative emotions for you and how you responded to them. Try to remember your thoughts, feelings, and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting, and how you reacted.
Use the questions below to contemplate work-related stress and write down your answers in the table below the questions.
‣ What was the situation?
‣ What was its purpose?
‣ Whit what kind of people were you surrounded?
Beliefs and expectations about yourself, other people, the situation
‣ Ask yourself, “What was going through my head at the time? What was I thinking? What had I hoped to have happened? What was I saying to myself?”
Talents and strengths that were not at their best
‣ Which of your talents and strengths did you wish you would have had more?
‣ Which of your talents and strengths were not able to express or use them at that time?
‣ Which of your talents and strengths did you overuse them?
Consequential emotions and feelings
Identify what kind of emotions you felt inside you (for example: angry, rejected, sad, anxious, fearful, jealous, nervous, worthless, resentful, stupid, grieving…) and what kind of feelings in your body came along these emotions (for example: feeling pressure in the chest or in ahead, frozen, buzzy, breathless, the tension in arms, etc.) as they have a significant impact on your behavior.
‣ As a reaction to the emotions and feelings of stress, how did you behave?
‣ Did you find yourself less motivated, less effective, and productive?
‣ What about indulging in any unhealthy behaviors? If so, what kind?
Dispute – the belief, thought or expectation
‣ What would you do differently today if you were in the same situation?
‣ Was this thinking logical?
‣ Would everyone think and respond the same way in this situation?
‣ Were this thinking and behavior supporting me in achieving my goal?
Try to think of a better, more efficient way of perceiving the stressful situation. If you can’t find some new, more efficient thought, it can help if you imagine that you are talking to a friend and what would you say to him/her in the same situation.
Once you did this exercise for the past situations, start tracking your everyday responses to different situations, which cause you negative emotions.
If you have an opportunity, immediately analyze the situation, but otherwise, it is ok if you take sometime later in the evening and write down all your observations about the situation.
More time you spend on this exercise more aware, you will become how your beliefs drives your feelings and emotions and how your emotions drive and influence your behaviors and actions.