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The Steps of Positive Thinking:

If you want to be unstoppable in life then follow the steps of positive thinking outlined below.

We all have challenges/adversities in life. Your success is dictated by how quickly you bounce back from those challenges. When some people hit a challenge their negative thinking and beliefs kick in and that's it ... game over. They give up on their goal.

Changing your interpretation of an event, asking yourself better questions and disputing your automatic beliefs will enable you to stay in the game, to continue to take action, to be empowered and engaged. Below is a very useful process developed by one of the world's leading psychologists, Dr Albert Ellis to help you change the meaning you give to an event.

The Five Steps of Positive Thinking:

The ABC model developed by Dr Albert Ellis
  • A stands for Adversity (the challenge or problem you face)
  • B for Beliefs (which automatically kick in when the event occurs)
  • C for the usual Consequences (of the belief),
  • D for your Disputation (of your routine beliefs and thoughts - to get a more balanced point of view) and
  • E for the Energization that occurs when you successfully dispute the belief

Disputation is the powerhouse within these steps of positive thinking and so needs a little more explanation. The disputation stage has four important components.

The Steps of Disputation

  1. Evidence: Here attempt to get a good dose of reality. What are the facts in the matter? The key at this stage is to adopt the role of detective "What is the evidence for this belief?" You are trying to avoid catastrophizing what has just occurred and search out real evidence whether your beliefs are accurate or false.

  2. Alternatives: What could be all the possible contributing causes and focus on those that are temporary and specific rather than permanent and pervasive (See more about this on the optimism vs pessimism page). For example if you failed a test it might have been because you were tired or didn't study hard enough, rather than you are not smart enough. The key is to ask yourself "Is there a less destructive way to look at this?".

  3. Implications: If the reality is that your beliefs are in fact accurate, then the most powerful thing you can do is to de-catastrophize. You need to say to yourself "What does it imply?" How likely is the worst-case scenario? For example, If you failed an examination does that mean you will never get a job?

  4. Usefulness: Is the belief destructive? The response "I'm no good" is the recipe for giving up completely. A good tactic is to detail all the ways you can change for the future. Get coaching in this area

The Steps of Positive Thinking In Action

Adversity: One of my team members just resigned, quoting family reasons

Beliefs: It's because I'm not a good leader that she left. If I had been more inspiring she would have stayed with me. I'm no good at this, maybe I'm just not cut out to be a leader, running my own business.

Consequences: I feel lousy, and sad and thought about giving away trying to build the business.

Disputation: Hang on. I have three other team members who are still with me and who appear to be happy that they are on the team. Maybe the reasons she gave were true and really did have nothing to do with me. Maybe her needs were different from what she had said they were.

One team member resigning does not mean that I'm not meant to build this business. As I keep improving my leadership skills I'll be able to attract and retain people in my team. I'll get my coach to help me more in this area.

Energization: I feel much better, more focused and calm. I'll put my energy into improving my leadership capability. I even feel more reconnected to my dreams and goals for this business.

Does this mean that you are eternally positive and never feel bad? Of course not. What it does mean is that you need to train yourself to use the steps of positive thinking and look at situations and experiences from a very down-to-earth viewpoint.

Train yourself to ask better questions. By asking better questions you will get better results.

Using the Steps of Positive Thinking with Your Team

You can use the steps of positive thinking with both individual team members and groups ...

Let's say:

Adversity: You've just announced a major change in the way in which your team operates. Many people are fearful and worried by the change.

Now you work with your team to help them list some of the thoughts and beliefs that are experiencing

Beliefs: It's not right, this is a crappy place to work, they don't care about us, it will probably mean lay offs, there is nothing wrong with the old system, these changes will make hurt our bonus payout

Now talk to your team about the consequences of holding on to these negative emotions:

Consequences: Anger and resentment, internal conflict, uncertainty, increased sick leave, not speaking to managers, poor communication, sadness, not wanting to come to work, sabotage

Now you lead your team through a disputation process, looking at the usefulness of their current beliefs and responses

Disputation: Sometimes our old way of working has been ineffective and caused us to work harder than we could, it seems we are going to get a lot of training and support to make sure we understand the new way of working, it will mean that we can ensure the security of the company and our jobs for a longer time because we become more competitive, it will be better for our customers in the long term, when we have had changes in the past our team mates have always helped each other and they will surely do the same this time, the leadership team in recent times have been very up front and honest with us - so they will probably be the same now

If you facilitate this process well, you may find your team members begin to laugh at some of their debilitating thinking. Ask your team to create a list of the new behaviors and thoughts they may want to hold to feel more energized by this change:

Energization: New behaviors might include: Take responsibility for learning your part of the change process, be understanding that sometimes communication may not occur in the way that you'd hope, look for ways to help make the change as seamless as possible.

Continue to reinforce the new thoughts and behaviors with your team (collectively and individually) and you should find that they will remain energized.

Good luck in using the steps of positive thinking. Applied regularly and consistently you will become unstoppable!

Finally, this article on self-talk - both for the individual and for the organization - nicely complements this article.

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