What to do when positive thinking isn’t enough…

By Karen Amos

I can’t think of anyone who’s not been challenged in one way or another by the pandemic over this last 9 months.  Whilst this has certainly tested many of us in the extreme, this is just one of many challenges life will send our way.

As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching the frequently misunderstood philosophy of Stoicism, which is often misinterpreted as the British ‘stiff upper-lip’, ‘putting up with misfortune’ view of life.  In reality, stoicism teaches us a very practical lesson – that in life, circumstances will continue to challenge us, but it is within our gift to decide how we will respond to them.

Here’s a quote by Epicticus:

‘When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it. It is not the things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor are they what they seem to be. They are what they are.’

Often coaching is seen as a bit ‘Pollyanna – all in the garden is rosy’, which is why many people (with some justification) cite ‘toxic positivity’ at the relentless ‘just think positive’ messages.  In fact coaching at it’s best is nothing of the sort.  Tony Robbins has a great approach to this.  I paraphrase:

Just relying on a positive thinking alone is like going into your garden and chanting ‘there are no weeds, there are no weeds’, when your garden’s clearly full of weeds.  You need to get in there and pull them out!

We need to accept that life is frequently challenging and bad stuff happens.  Rather than passively accepting that, drowning in self-misery, or railing against the universe, we need to roll up our sleeves and deal with it.  We need to take action that will serve us well.

Here are a few coaching questions to get you started:

  • What’s my main challenge here?
  • Is there a small, practical action I can take that will serve me better right now?
  • What are the costs and benefits of my current approach/attitude?  What can I do differently that will move me forward and have a positive effect?

Remember, we’re all human and it’s important to acknowledge our feelings.  If something bad happens it’s perfectly natural and healthy to feel down, upset or angry.  The problem is that simply dwelling on these feelings and responses will not serve us well, or help our situation.  It’s therefore in your gift and best interests to start to coach yourself to a better way forward that will.

If you’d like support for you or your team to reduce stress and build resilience and effectiveness at work, get in touch for an informal, no-obligation chat.  Watch out for our NEW Positive & Productive Programme – launching January 2021! Contact us for more details or click HERE.

We offer one-to-one and team coaching and in-house training programmes.

Call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.ukOr visit our NEW training pages HERE 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports under-pressure business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.