1. Imagine the offending situation, person or activity is an object or an item you can touch

a. Picture this object in your mind; notice your thinking and your body (heart rate, breathing, are your hands or is your jaw clenched?). Are you showing other signs of stress?

b. Now take that picture and make it farther away so it appears smaller in your mind; change the colors to black and white, and blur the edges. How does that change the effect it has on you?

2. Listen to what you are saying, both to yourself and to others. Really listen. What words are you using? Are you portraying yourself as a victim, or as someone in control?

3. Re-assess or re-interpret the situation. Put it in a different perspective. Take the actions you see as unfair or unjust and re-frame the situation. This accomplishes several things:

a. It uses your prefrontal cortex — your brain’s executive and the cognitive part of your brain. When your prefrontal cortex is focused on one situation or issue, your attention is not scattered, and you are more likely

to respond appropriately and not negatively.

b. It takes pressure off your emotional brain as it works to figure a way out of the situation. This allows rational thinking to prevail.

c. It opens doors (and your mind) for alternate reasons for the behaviors.

d. It stops you from impulsive or regrettable actions.

4. Recognize the uncertainties of the situation and mentally work to define them. It is difficult to move forward when there is not a clear path, and every step you take has the possibility of worsening the situation. As the director, resist the urge to answer ‘how’ to solve; instead work through the why is this important and the repercussions, what is important to the department, who you are as a department.

5. Are you aware of the content of what going through your mind? One way to raise that awareness is to imagine a rubber band around your wrist; every time you recognize that your thoughts have traveled back to ‘the situation’, snap the rubber band and ‘feel’ the sting. Eventually you will identify the times when your thoughts stray; that’s when you can proactively change your thoughts and your emotions.

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER 1. Remember the big picture — trying to build or rebuild your department. Don’t blow an off-handed or callous remark out of proportion — feelings hurt — still part of the team, refuse to carry and feed that grudge and seek revenge.

2. If you don’t get the job or promotion you want, it’s one episode in your life. Take a step back and figure out why you were not chosen, regroup and proceed anew.

3. When all is said and done, what is important — your pride/ego, relationships (work and working), your reputation, your values? Your response will dictate your immediate actions.

4. Tweaking what Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said “keep the end in mind”.

5. Excessive negative self-talk hurts your performance now and in the future.

6. You have the ability to consciously change your thoughts, much like changing the direction in which your car is traveling. It may not be easy, it may not be ‘pretty’ and you may not be successful the first time (or two) you try. You will be successful if you decide that is what you want or need to do.

42 | dec 2017 | jan 2018

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