Are you struggling with negative thinking in the workplace?

Do you want to know how you can challenge your negative thoughts once and for all?

Dissatisfaction in the workplace appears to be on the increase, with many individuals becoming incredibly stressed and unhappy for many reasons, including job insecurity, lack of opportunities to develop, perceived failure, uncomfortable change and dysfunctional workplace dynamics. As with a lot of things in our lives, we don’t have the ability to control whether these situations occur or not, but we do have the ability to control how we perceive and interpret these events to achieve a more positive sense of mental well-being.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

When you encounter a challenge or a failure at work, how does it make you feel? Do you engage in self-serving biases to protect your self-esteem and public image? Or do you hold yourself irrevocably accountable and perceive the situation to be a negative reflection of your abilities?

Positive and negative perspectives are deeply ingrained in all individuals. Whereas optimists have a tendency to look for the best in every situation and expect good things to happen, pessimists have a negative view of the future and they attack themselves in situations where they lack control, believing that nothing they do will change the outcome.  If you have suffered from early adversity and you have grown up believing that everything is beyond your control, then you are more likely to suffer from learning helplessness and adopt pessimistic attribution styles.

The difference in how we explain occurrences to ourselves has a profound impact on our lives. According to Barbara Freidrikson, positive emotions and cognitions enable you to see more possibilities in your life and they open your mind to embracing more opportunities. As a result, individuals who engage in positive thinking and self-talk are more likely to build and enhance their skills and consequently, they are likely to do better in every aspect of their life (and they’re likely to have better health too!).

On the other hand, negative emotions are known to narrow your mind and focus your thoughts on the problem in front of you. In evolutionary terms, this can be extremely advantageous, but it our present society, these negative thoughts prevent our brains from seeing the options and choices that are available to us. So isn’t this reason enough to adopt an optimistic view on life and the workplace?

Just like we learn to be pessimistic, we can learn to be optimistic and by doing so, we are likely to reap many benefits and rewards. So what can you do to achieve this?

What can you do to challenge negative thought patterns?

p.txt1. Challenge your thinking: Albert Ellis constructed the ABC model, which underpins the basis of cognitive therapy. In particular, this model is used to identify, challenge and re-evaluate negative thought patterns in relation to a particular situation or event. For example, let’s say your colleague was chosen to receive a promotion over you (A), you can believe one of two things..


By breaking down negative thoughts in this way, you can witness where any distortions may lie and you can challenge these thoughts in order to develop a more realistic interpretation.  If you’re feeling particularly negative, why not dispute these thoughts and give yourself a reason to feel positive? Whether this reason is related to the situation or not, it will broaden your horizons and give you something to work for!

2. Engage in imaginal thinking: A group of researchers, Driskell, Copper and Moran (1994) found a relationship between positive imaging and enhanced performance. If you can mentally construct a positive future for yourself and you embed this deeply in your mind, you will be able to alter your performance for the better to achieve fantastic results. So the next time you’re feeling negative, why not try and visualise an end goal for yourself?

3. Focus on the positives: Once you’re in a negative frame of mind, it can be hard to shift these thoughts to something more positive – so why not try a simple technique? Make a note of something good that has happened to you each day; every day might not be good, but there will be something good in every day!

4. Embrace failure: View failure as an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson – it is a failure that breeds success after all, not success itself!  Regardless of the difficulties you face, there will be a solution to each problem you face and you are guaranteed to learn something from the experience!

5. Enhance your positivity! What better way to beat the blues than to schedule fun activities to look forward to? By engaging in activities that you enjoy, you are more likely to experience positive emotions that will buffer against the negativity you feel and this will boost both your mood and your self-esteem! What’s more, if you associate with others who make you feel good about yourself and the future ahead of you, chances are, you might start believing this yourself!

6. Stop using negative words: Replace those “cant’s” with “cans” and those “wont’s” with “wills” – if you proactively try to make a difference, you will.  By believing in yourself and your capabilities, you are more likely to develop a sense of confidence and competence, so make note of your achievements as this will really boost your self-efficacy, and according to research, self-efficacy is the biggest predictor of behavioural change!

Author: Megan Lazenby, Online Marketing, Masterclass Training Ltd

Here are a few other interesting and useful links to help you build your optimism and to put you on track for a more positive way of life!

The ABC Technique – Overcoming Pessimistic Thinking

When You Criticize Someone, You Make it Harder for Them to Change

Stay Positive at Work

Optimism Brings Positive Results to the Workplace

50 Ways to Build Your Optimism

Optimism Quiz