Forget Affirmations!

There are always grim decisions to make. The more you’re paid, the more likely you have to face ‘impossible’ constraints or conflict.

Some would have you believe that positive thinking is all you need. Just be disciplined and envisage, decontaminate your belief systems, chant affirmations, manifest-manifest-manifest, and voila!

Sadly, despite all the gurus’ claims, this is not holistic. It’s not 360 degrees. In fact, studies show that chanting affirmations often produces the reverse results, along with mild anxiety.

Embracing the negative works. What we fear most is often exactly what we must do. Tim Ferriss, the renowned techie-cum-motivational-speaker and author tells us how to overcome rabbit-in-the-headlights paralysis. By ‘fear-setting’ (cf. goal-setting) you can envisage and take the first steps to grasping what you can control (or not). Then you can take the necessary moves to grow.

Tim’s message aligns with a book from years earlier: ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers. And with Harvard psychologist and coach Susan David. Both are entirely in line with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. In CBT, after deconstructing and reconstructing certain belief systems, we enter an ‘acceptance phase’ of the problem or trigger and with ‘staged exposure’ to it. In my coaching practice for communication performance anxiety, I apply this process. Soon you will come to love those scary and high-stress settings.

Tim Ferriss reminds us of stoicism – the art of mental training originating in ancient Greece – a tool that has endowed countless actors, sports athletes and successful business people with an emotional free-fall that allows them to operate and thrive in high-stress environments. I  integrate these principles into my practice.

Being able to separate what you can control from what you can’t control allows us to decrease our emotional reactivity, says Tim. We can direct our energy to other aspects of life. In an ever-changing market, the stakes are incredibly high. Psychological breakdowns brought on by stress and emotional burdens can cost you a job. And in the worst-case scenario even your life! It is important to be able to manage those ups and downs in order to lead a stable and fruitful life.

Visualizing worst-case scenarios and calculating risk-vs-reward – this is intelligent and empowering. This seems contrary to many of the ‘positive-thinking evangelists’ out there. But it is not depressing. Nor will conceiving of bad things necessarily ‘manifest’ them, as they like to believe. The above analysis allows us to make the hard choices easier. In your coaching with Tony Corballis, you will not shy from the bad; you will tackle it and unpick it, disempower it, and eclipse it. This is in line with CBT. You can achieve your full potential.

The key point is that often the worst thing we can do in our lives is nothing at all. The cost of inaction may be greater than we think. In goal setting, we need – among other things – to reflect on the fears that prevent us from achieving them.


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