We can sometimes think our way into trouble, and become stressed, and end up making the situation worse, so I wanted to focus here on how changing our OUTLOOK or Attitude can help to change the OUTCOME of situations we find ourselves in.

Just as an example of what I mean, a former client of mine spoke to me about how she’d been changing jobs, and had had a couple of interviews for new positions. Her first interview had been for a job at Heathrow Airport that she’d been ‘desperate’ to get. She told me that she’d been really nervous and anxious about it, and had become really worked up prior to the interview. She said that as a result she hadn’t performed well at interview, and hadn’t got the job. The second interview had been for a similar job, but one she’d not thought about a great deal, didn’t think she’d get, and about which she’d been much more relaxed. And what happened?……………. Yes, she performed much better at interview second time around, and ended up being offered the job, which she took, enjoyed doing and did well at. She put her success – and failure – down to how she’d approached the respective job interviews, and the thoughts, feelings and attitudes she’d had about each of them.

This is a simple illustration of how the way things turn out can be determined by what and how we think about the future/future events. My OUTLOOK can alter the OUTCOME because, when my thinking is helpful, I’m more likely to keep things in perspective, to be logical and rational, and to remain focused. When I don’t have unhelpful thoughts about how things might go (badly), I’m less likely to be held back and distracted, and won’t have the ensuing unhelpful feelings that can get in the way and make things difficult for me.  

If our thinking isn’t helpful for us, how can we go about changing our outlook, thinking in helpful ways, and having helpful thoughts?

The first and most obvious thing to do is to IDENTIFY and ACKNOWLEDGE what we’re doing, if for example we’re

  • Being hard on ourselves/unnecessarily self-critical
  • Emphasising the negative
  • Discounting the positive
  • Catastrophising (‘It’s going to be really, really awful’)
  • Posing questions that have no answers (‘Why? Why me?’ etc.) and
  • Asking ‘What if’ this, that and the next thing happens?

If we can acknowledge for example that we are fretting about something we have no control over, or over-emphasising the chances of disaster, we’ve already taken a big step to doing something about it.

It’s difficult isn’t it to assume/take on board thoughts/a way of thinking we’re not used to, or we’re not inclined to because of how we’re feeling? Very often it’s a question of thinking AND behaving in more helpful ways, and these can be complementary, and feed off each other: if I think better and feel better and behave more helpfully, benefits will ensue in all the areas, and because we think better, we feel better and behave better and think better, and so on.