Everyday life bombards us with continuous experiences in which we are challenged to make choices and respond accordingly. Some of these are more difficult to manage than others especially when change is involved.

Our choices determine our success or failure in situations. Generally, we apply ourselves in habitual ways, on automatic pilot, without thinking twice.  Again, some of these habits are more productive than others. I may instinctively respond to every challenge with feelings of not being good – or competent enough.

Many of us respond to these situations impulsively without thinking twice. Knee-jerk reactions, however, often exclude more appropriate and productive actions. The “best” decisions are taken after careful reflection. What follows is an exercise which has mindfulness and a cognitive reframing as the basis. See if you can apply it and note whether it is helpful when faced with difficult situations:

  1. Take note of your feelings in a challenging situation. Typical examples are when change might be required in a workplace, when someone has a different opinion to yours, when you are criticized or when you are unsure about a course of action. Typical feelings are resistance, insecurity or fear.
  2. Imagine a huge STOP sign in your mind.
  3. Look down, close your eyes for a moment and literally try to empty your mind of any racing thoughts by only focusing on your breathing. It might also help to literally take a step backward.
  4. Write down what the particular situation is that you are currently experiencing.
  5. Ask yourself the following questions:
    • What am I feeling? Note the exact feeling and write it down.
    • What is it in me that makes me feel insecure, fearful or want to resist?
    • Are these feelings helpful in this situation?
    • What thoughts may be underlying these feelings e.g. thoughts of not being able to cope etc?
    • Can I change these thoughts to be more empowering?
    • Write down at least five reasons why you are quite capable to cope.
  1. Decide on a more constructive action and DO IT.