How to control five behaviors that can harm you in difficult times
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Apply small changes to your routines in order to get ahead professionally and personally.
Feeling overwhelmed in complex times, such as the pandemic,can get worse depending on how you respond to those situations. For Alice Boyes, author of an article on the subject in Harvard Business Review, there are behaviors that can play against you and that you should keep in mind.
Below, we summarize what those five common mistakes are, how you can fix them and get ahead on a professional and personal level.
“I don’t have time”
When difficulties arise, there are usually solutions available that are discarded because, for example, you consider that you are busy or not the time to apply them. The problem behind these attitudes is that it is expected “to take those steps until a more ideal time than normally ever comes.” Instead, Boyles recommends opting for the best option available at the moment.
The cost of not making decisions, according to the author, leads you to a feeling of helplessness or incompetence, “ruminating” on thoughts and missing the opportunity to put ideas into practice. “By acting to help yourself, you’ll get hands-on practice to find workable solutions, feel more self-efficacy, and get those benefits sooner.”
Take advantage of your unconscious
For the author of the article, “your unconscious and wandering mind is as valuable a tool for solving problems and creative thoughts as your focused mind. Using your wandering mind will help you do important things, without so much pressure to be focused and without distractions all the time, which can be an unreasonable expectation.”
Don’t give up the option of letting these thoughts surface while trying to distract yourself from a tough week at work. “Try to identify the activities during which your mind naturally drifts in useful ways and solve problems for you.” As an example, the author cited that, in her case, some of these activities are “exercising, taking showers and resting in the sun”.
One effect of feeling overwhelmed is that self-criticism can lead you to perceive what happened as a weakness. In turn, this can drive you to procrastinate, have anxiety or shame about those feelings. In addition, “some people react to this shame and anxiety in other ways. They may approach the task with additional perfectionism, or they may become more reluctant to ask others for advice and suggestions.”
To solve this, it’s important to develop self-care strategies such as knowing what your self-botaging patterns are, planning, or asking for help.
Feeling overwhelmed, stress can drive you not to see what happened from other perspectives. “We become less flexible in adapting to the demands of the situation and by default to our dominant ways of handling things.” In this way, undue importance is given to personal traits. So, for example, self-sufficiency leads you to do everything on your own, or “having high standards can lead to being demanding or perfectionist.”
Instead, when feeling overwhelmed the advice is to ask whether these dominant traits are best suited to the situation, or whether a different approach would be better suited to the circumstances.
Another effect of feeling overwhelmed, Boyes explains, is that “you probably have a lower and more limited emotional energy. For example: you probably give your child a big hug and instead when he feels overwhelmed, you give him a quick squeeze, while you think about other things.” This can translate into mood swings that negatively impact you and those around you.
“This is self-sabotage. You’re missing opportunities to fill your emotional cup when you need it most and you risk your loved ones realizing the differences and behaving badly to get your attention (for example, a child drawing on a wall or a spouse arguing about something unimportant).”
To fix this, identify ways you can stay connected to those people even though you’re overwhelmed. For example, worry about maintaining routines that allow you to share with your family and a space for fun or rest for yourself.
By being aware of these five patterns of behavior, you can get through difficult and challenging times by not being so yourself and others. They are completely normal patterns of behavior and you don’t have to be so yourself. “Know what your stressors are that make you fall back on these behaviors and make small easy changes to overcome them,” boyes concludes.