Personal Management in difficult situations

As we are bombarded with bad news about the consequences of the economy it may seem difficult to remain detached from events as we go about our lives. People naturally reflect on the consequences for themselves of the global economic situation, and for some this causes worry, distraction, increased stress, even anxiety and depression.

While we can do little about global events, we can all do something about how events, both at work and at home affect us personally. This requires a pragmatic stance linked to robust psychology. We can learn the skills that will help us weather the troubles without becoming incapacitated by worry, or sucked into the doom and gloom.

Taking personal control

Uncertainty is great at provoking anxiety in people, and in changing times people often unwittingly do things that can aggravate their uncertainty.

For example, instead of looking for the possibilities in a troubling situation, they’ll latch onto the negatives and catastrophise them. People actually choose to make themselves feel worse and this increases the sense that they are out of control and that things will get worse!

And guess what? They do!

Here are three things you can do to start to reverse this natural human tendency.

1. Have a plan

The past may have happened, but the future hasn’t yet. People with a plan not only do better, they FEEL BETTER. So, what’s your plan? What are you working towards? If something goes wrong with your job or your financial security, where will you direct your energy and your efforts. Here are some example plans:

  • Become your own banker; organize you finances, take control rather than ignoring or worrying about your financial future. Block out some time in your diary each week to do this. Give it the priority it deserves.
  • Fulfill an ambition; what dream would unexpected change allow you to realise; career change, study, a personal project? Find out what you are passionate about, then plan to work towards it.
  • Research the market; how employable are you elsewhere? What are you worth on the market? What special skills or experience that might be useful to a new employer? Check out the agencies and the job ads. Update your CV. Remember that ‘success favours the prepared mind’, so prepare.

What other ways could you develop a vision or plan? Focus on solutions, actions to carry you forward rather than drifting aimlessly towards uncertainty and worry?

2. Review

Reviewing means looking at your strengths, those you were born with and those you’ve developed through life, and remembering your successes, the things you’ve achieved, made happen, and can be proud of. Then combine them into a phrase or sentence that will remind you what you are capable of. Write it down, continue to refine it, keep it with you.

3. Learn

Learning something new is a great way to remind your unconscious mind (you know, the part that ruminates and worries), that you are more that the sum of your worries. What have you been wanting to learn but never got round to?

For example, I have been a swimmer for years, but I knew my self-taught style was clumsy and inefficient. I recently decided to get some lessons and turn myself into a proper swimmer. What have I found? I now swim like a pro (well, almost), I often have a lane to myself as other swimmers can see that I am serious, and I feel even better than I did before!

So, just three SIMPLE things to take control and change your outlook on life, and take in control when the World seems to be losing its head:

By the way, you don’t have to be in a crisis to use these. Start to change your thinking in these subtle ways, and you will increase your sense of control and soon start to feel the benefit.

Five things to avoid

We all have a tendency towards self-limiting thinking and habits, things that are best avoided.

Avoid joining the Scaremongers

Remember the saying ‘Misery loves company’. Nothing like a bit of group commiseration on how bad things are to really bring you down. Stay out of it, or pay the price.

Avoid enrolling in the Doom and Gloom Club

When others start up on how bad things are, people naturally tend to get into the gossip and mutual commiseration. Acknowledge and move on. Avoid joining in.

Avoid Ostrich behaviour

Burying your head in the sand might make things go away, but it won’t increase your sense of purpose or empowerment. You may have things you should be doing, like planning how to save money, talking to your bank manager, re-structuring part of your life or looking for new ways to prosper. Remember, Plan, Review and Learn.

Avoid exaggeration

People love to talk-up bad news. Exaggerate at your peril. Catastrophising is one of those patterns of thought that lead right into depression. Always seek to balance bad news with an objective view.

Don’t believe all you read and hear

You are surrounded by bad news. As well as the naysayers, there are the media, Newspapers and TV are particularly good at feeding us negativity big-time. And are the soaps! There is nothing like an hour or two a day of authentic sounding drama and arguments to set you up for a troubled night’s sleep.

Surround yourself with positive ideas and influences. Look for things that please and inspire you. For example:

  • Do you have a hobby?
  • Consolidate your relationships
  • Develop an interest
  • Remember, healthy body, healthy mind

Dealing with recurring negativity

Hen we are surrounded by negativity it can infect our feelings, thinking and beliefs without us realising. The thoughts are often automatic, so much so that it may not even occur to us that what we are thinking is at the root of feeling bad.   We can take control by being flexible and creative in our thinking; we can challenge this pervasiveness so we are not overwhelmed by it.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.