Dreading something? How to get off the dime
By Mildred L. Culp
Harvard Medical School’s Srinivasan Pillay maintains that people operate largely “in a mental environment of fear.” Sometimes even the most disciplined people can’t make themselves do something they know that they need to do.
If discipline won’t work, what will?
The problem is real, thanks to multiple de-motivators in today’s workplace.Clinical and industrial-organizational psychologist Joan Pastor at JPA International Inc., in Beverly Hills and Oceanside, Calif., estimates the time people lose to fear about work at 50 percent, especially if they’re confronting multiple stressors, such as insufficient resources. Manhattan psychologist Alden Cass of Competitive Streak Consulting LLC, cites the knowledge that scores of people are waiting to replace you at half your salary. This difficult environment can cause people to freeze up, even though they have the skills and experience to do the job.
Pillay – psychiatrist, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and CEO of NeuroBusiness Group LLC, inCambridge, Mass. – explains what’s transpiring in his helpful new book, “Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons To Overcome Fear” (Rodale, $25.99). He writes that neurological factors are coming into play, but that you can foil them fairly easily.First, though, he advises you to recognize the signs of impending dread. You really don’t want to go to work. Monday morning comes and you’re queasy. Some of the people at the office might be all right, but others aren’t, and you can’t avoid them.
You’ve plastered a fake smile on your face, “faking being enthusiastic,” he says. Your concentration dulls.Your feeling of dread impacts people around you. How can you arrest these symptoms and turn yourself around emotionally?
“Life Unlocked” outlines some simple steps for tricking your brain by training your mind.
• gain the perspective that “the burden that we feel in life is less related to the actual load of our troubles and fears than it is to the attention that we give it.” Learn how to redirect your attention.
• develop hope by “imagining the change so your brain can determine the route … to your goal.” Without hope, you’re telling your brain “to go to sleep. Give permission to the brain to look for a solution.”
• guide your brain to so that it “believes that something is possible (at which point ) it will chart a path toward your goal that is radically different from the course it would chart without hope.”
• reflect on “positive emotions (to) stimulate the consequences of positive emotions.”Positive thoughts about a good meal or massage you’re looking forward to will make you feel better. “If you feel nothing’s positive,” he adds, “decide to create one or two positive opportunities during that week.” Reinforce change with longer-term thoughts, such as a special weekend or vacation or even the chance to leave your job some months down the road.
Catch yourself worrying and see if you’re “avoiding the actual thing causing the worry.” All of these steps will undermine the dread that keeps you from taking action. Pillay also suggests that you not analyze your problem all of the time. Instead, focus your attention on the symptom of fear you’re having, such as a sick stomach, for two or three minutes. He says that this tactic ultimately makes you less fearful.
Finally, reframe your thoughts. Instead of thinking about how much you fear your boss or a lousy co-worker,think about the short period of time in which you’ll have contact.Try doing all of these things. It won’t cost you a nickel and you might well get off the dime.
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