“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.”
- Dale Carnegie
Looking forward to something can be exhilarating, the excited butterflies in your tummy moments, savouring thoughts of what is about to happen, relishing the possibilities. Here, the unknown is thrilling, intoxicating even.
From this perspective, using the CBT model (which explains that our thoughts create our feelings which drive our behaviours) such hopeful thoughts will generate positive feelings and stimulate constructive behaviours.
Very quickly however, underlying anxieties or self-worth issues can kick in and tip the balance. Relishing the possibilities becomes over-analysis and rumination.
“Will it really happen?”
“What if I didn’t do enough?”
“What if ……… happens?”
“What if no one likes it?”
“What if I am not good enough”
As we know, distorted ways of thinking are common and fuel such rumination. (Click here for an article which discusses these negative patterns of thinking in more detail.) We can lose ourselves in selective evidence gathering, focusing on, and even searching out, evidence that supports our negative view, ignoring anything that contradicts it.
Soon we are not looking forward to our anticipated reward, but anxious about what it means if it doesn’t happen, stacking this up as another example of why we are not worthy and reinforcing negative core beliefs.
Even worse, we can start to behave in a way that may in fact bring about failure or derail our plans!
Looking forward to a date with a new partner:
Thoughts of “will they like me” become “what if they don’t like me” “that means I am not good enough” “I’ll cancel the date before they can tell me I am not good enough.” The result is no date and no opportunity to meet someone new.
Applying for a new job:
Thoughts of “I think I have the right skills for this job” becomes “what if there is someone with more experience than me” “what if they don’t think I am good enough” becomes “if I don’t get this job it means I am not good enough.” Going for a job interview with the belief that you are not good enough will have a negative impact on your actions - the way you communicate and how confidently you answer the questions, the way you respond to the interview panel and your body language. The result is poor interview performance.
Starting a new business venture:
Thoughts of “This is a fantastic service” becomes “what if no one buys into it” to “the business is going to be a failure” to “there is no point in working at this.” Such thoughts lead to a lack of motivation and even avoidance of tasks that are required to make the business work. The result is a failed business.
In these examples the distorted, negative thinking encourages negative behaviours that will make the negative thoughts manifest.
ACT is an extension of CBT. This psychotherapeutic technique encourages Acceptance of the situation we are in and any negative thoughts and feelings generated by it and Commitment to doing positive things to affect positive outcomes. In short it is aimed at the behaviour part of the CBT cycle, engaging in positive behaviours to generate positive thoughts and feelings about the situation.
We cannot control the behaviour of others, but we have 100% control over our own responses and in recognising and accepting this we are hugely empowered in any situation.
This is our take on the ACT model. We call it the ‘One a Day’ Technique.
Whatever your goal, be it a new relationship, a new job or a new venture, it is important that you do something positive to move you towards that goal every day. It does not have to be huge - just something! In following this technique you will have actioned at last 365 positive steps every year. Not all of these will be viable or even useful, the important thing is that you have set up a positive mindset towards your goal and developed good habits that will help achieve it.
When thinking about what to do, split your actions into categories:
· Fill out a form that needs to be done
· File paperwork
· Organise your diary
· Perform a 'Self-check'
· Reconnect with your goals
· Visualise your desired outcome
(‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ has both the Self-check and an Ideal future visualisation exercise along with over 60 other tools and techniques)
· Email potential clients
· Create a social media post
· Update your website
· Set up a meeting
· Attend a networking event
· Plan a networking event of your own and invite others to it