The Psychology Of Success; Part 2

In the first part of this article you learned some very important psychological skills for success. You learned how to build up your self-confidence and how to be assertive, fairly. And, how to ask for what you want, but without being confrontational.

In the second part you are going learn how to put things in perspective so that you can counter stress, depression, and anxiety. You'll see, for example, that the vast majority of worries are unimportant or about things unlikely to occur.

People have moods that go up and down, or "bad days" when they feel especially low. Sometimes, however, those low moods can slip into depression, which is much deeper and lasts longer, as long as months or even years.

Depression takes away your energy, making you feel like you are wading through mud. Everything becomes an effort. When depressed, you loose interest in the things going on around you. You are unable to concentrate and make decisions.

No one knows exactly what causes depression. For some psychologists, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Others look to early childhood experiences. Whatever the root causes, there are things you can do to help dig yourself out of depression. One of the first results of depression, as I mentioned above, is the loss of energy. As a result, you become inactive and sluggish.

If you're depressed, you can counter this by setting some simple tasks for yourself, that because of your depression you've stopped doing. And don't worry that these tasks would normally be easy, like writing a letter or making phone calls. Your depression has made them seem difficult, so they are difficult. If you concentrate on trying to accomplish these small tasks, you will begin breaking the hold of depression.

Another excellent way of counteracting your loss of energy is to keep a diary of your daily activities. Divide your diary into hourly slots, and for few days fill in everything that you do. Then go back to the diary and pick out the activities that were most difficult for you to do. Then pick out those activities that gave you the most pleasure. You'll be surprised at the number of activities that give you pleasure even when you're depressed.

Now schedule as many pleasurable inducing activities as possible into your days. Also schedule activities from the diary that gave you energy, such as exercise. And look for activities that you found to be absorbing. You will, of course have other important daily activities to do. But if you can be aware of and plan activities that energize and give you pleasure, you'll be taking great steps to defeat depression.

As you learned in part one, negative thoughts affect your feelings and negative feelings affect your thoughts in a vicious circle. However, changing your thoughts is especially difficult when in the grip of depression.

One way to make the process easier is to distract yourself. Fill your mind with something else to give you a rest from dwelling on unhappy thoughts. For example, turn on the television. You might find after a while that you are not particularly interested in the program and your mind has wandered to another subject, say a memory sparked by the television show. You have thus broken away from the depressing thoughts that were holding you captive earlier.

Looking for alternative perspectives to your negative thoughts is a fundamental road out of depression. Reexamine your negative thoughts by using the guiding questions I've suggested in part 1.

Worry wastes time and energy. Specifically, it interferes with your concentration, complicates decision making, and makes you more pessimistic and problem-focused. Worry also affects your behavior making you less efficient and less confident in your initiative and performance, and more prone to rely on others. Worry affects your emotions, making you feel confused, apprehensive, out of control, and overwhelmed. And it can also be physically debilitating, making you tired and tense.

Most of us worry about things that are not worth worrying about. One of the best ways to stop useless worrying is by asking yourself: "How important is the thing I'm worried about?" The hundred-year rule ("Will this matter in a hundred years?") is one way of answering this question. Since a hundred years is very far, choose a realistic perspective for you: a week, a year, or a decade.

Another way of assessing the importance of what you are worrying about is to place it in the context of other bad experiences. Ask yourself: "Where, on the spectrum of bad experiences, is the outcome I'm worried about?" If you put a molehill next to a mountain, you'll see just how small it is.

We have limited resources of time, energy, and life to spend. Worry uses up that time, energy, and life. When you have a problem, ask yourself: "Just how much worry is this worth?" For example, many people avoid litigation even if they have been wronged, because after analyzing the situation, they decide that the months of worry associated with the legal process and the trial aren't worth the eventual possible rewards.

All kinds of dreadful things could happen today or tomorrow. Most of them are unlikely. Don't play the "What if . . ." game, inviting all kinds of new things to worry about. Something may happen, but you are not totally sure that it will happen. Even if the event in question is very possible, don't worry about it. Since it may not come to pass, you are worrying for nothing, and you may even attract the situation into your life by worrying about it.

Stress causes a major reduction in our efficiency. But the right amount of stress can be good for you, such as when an impending deadline pushes you to work faster. Too much stress, however, becomes counterproductive as you start to make mistakes, become confused and muddled, or loose your concentration.

When you get too stressed, you tend to push yourself even harder, which only increases the stress and inefficiency. When this happens take a moment to stop and think. No matter how much pressure you're under, it'll be more productive to take the time to step back and put things in perspective. Think about what's important to you. Establish your priorities. Under stress, you thoughtlessly take up each task as it comes along, without establishing which are more or less important to you.

Once you have a clear understanding of what's important to you, your priorities, use those priorities to guide your next step. You cannot do everything that you want to do all the time, but you can maintain a balance between tasks that are important and enjoyable to you and tasks that must be done regardless. Maintaining this balance is a key to controlling stress.

Much of our stress comes from our values and attitudes, which greatly determine how situations and events effect us. For example, if you believe that success in life is measured by success at work, you will be especially stressed by work pressures. Or, if you believe that self-sufficiency is the key to success, you will be stressed by situations in which you need to ask for help.

Your self-talk is critically important to relieving pressure and stress. Here are some examples of how you can change your self-talk to relieve pressure:

* Don't say, "I have to get this done." Say, "I will do as much as I can in the time allowed."

* Don't say, "I shouldn't ask for help." Say, "Everyone asks for help sometimes. I would be happy to help someone else."

* Don't say, "Others cope far better than I do." Say, "Everyone is susceptible to stress. I am not alone in this."

Everyone, even the most successful people all have problems, experience stress, and have negative thoughts. The difference is in the way that successful people are able to deal with their stress and everyday problems. With tenacity and practice, you will begin to stop negative thoughts from hurting you, loose most of your worries, and control your stress. When you master these key psychological skills, you will have taken a major step in living the life of happiness and success you deserve.

Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America's largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.

Reach Joe at: [email protected]

Read more articles and newsletters at: http://www.jlmandassociates.com

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