Managing Your Mindset
‘I think nothing I ever do is good enough’
‘I feel anxious all the time and am not enjoying my job anymore’
‘I work so hard but never feel like anything I do really makes a difference’
Humans are naturally programmed to think negatively; we watch out for danger to keep ourselves safe. This means that it can take 3 positive thoughts to combat every negative one - and we all have a lot of negative thoughts, all day, every day. The good news is those thoughts are in our heads and not reality. With practice, we can manage our thoughts and emotions and stop listening to those negative ones and adopt a more positive mindset.
Managing our mindset is an essential aspect of both personal and professional development and has a big impact on how happy and fulfilled we feel every day.
Here are some of the ways you can learn to do this.
Your mind is your best friend, but it can also be your worst enemy.
Positive Intelligence® measures the relative strength of the control you have over your own mind and how well your mind acts in your best interest. The breakthrough, research-based tools developed by founder, Shirzad Chamine and his team, strengthen the part of your brain that serves you and quieten the part that sabotages you. You can then handle life’s challenges with a more positive mindset and less stress. This is called Mental Fitness.
Find out your Mental Fitness Score (PQ® - Positive Intelligence Quotient) here
Your Inner Saboteurs are the voices in your head that generate negative thoughts and emotions in the way you react to life’s everyday challenges. They represent automated patterns in your mind for how to think, feel, and behave. They cause your stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, guilt, restlessness, and unhappiness. They sabotage your performance, happiness, wellbeing, and relationships. The 10 saboteurs are:
Judge - The Judge is the universal Saboteur that afflicts everyone. It is the one that beats you up repeatedly and gets you fixated on what is wrong with you, others or your life.
Avoider - Avoiding unpleasant tasks and difficult conflicts, until they become a real problem.
Controller - Needing to take charge and control situations and people’s actions to one’s own will. High anxiety and impatience experienced when that is not possible.
Hyper-Achiever - Dependent on performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Latest achievement quickly discounted, constantly needing more.
Hyper-Rational - Intense and exclusive focus on the rational processing of everything, including relationships. Can be perceived as uncaring or arrogant, as communication lacks empathy.
Hyper-Vigilant - Continuous intense anxiety about potential dangers and what could go wrong. Vigilance that can never rest and leaves you exhausted from all the worry.
Pleaser - Indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others. Loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.
Restless - Constantly in search of greater excitement in the next activity or constant busyness. Rarely at peace or content with the current activity.
Stickler - Perfectionism and a need for order and organisation taken too far. Anxious and takes too long trying to make too many things perfect.
Victim - Emotional and temperamental to gain attention and affection. An extreme focus on internal feelings, particularly painful ones with potential for a martyr streak.
Discover your saboteurs here
Most attempts at positive change fail because we stop at insight and don’t build habits. Sustained change towards a more positive mind requires laying down neural pathways to form new habits through consistent daily practice.
Just 15 mins per day of mental fitness exercises will strengthen your mental muscles and help you to:
Notice the negative thoughts generated by your saboteurs
Stop listening to them
Switch into the positive mindset of your wiser ‘Sage’ brain and find a better response or solution to the situation.
The exercises involve shifting as much of your attention as you can from your thoughts to your body and any of your five senses for a minute or two every 2-3 hours.
Examples of when you could do this are:
When washing your hands, notice the temperature of the water, the feel and smell of the soap, the sound of the hand-dryer or rustle of the paper towel.
When drinking a coffee or other beverage, notice the texture of the cup, the temperature of the liquid, the taste and smell of the drink.
When eating, notice the taste and smell of the food, tune into the sounds it makes, look at the colours and textures of the food.
There are many ways to do these exercises; it involves mindfully noticing small details and sensations of daily activities, without judgement or analysis. Doing this focuses the mind and stills the thoughts. When thoughts come, just let them go, allowing your attention to gently return to noticing the details and physical sensations again. The more you do this, the better you get at managing your thoughts. Gradually you will have heightened awareness of when negative thoughts occur so you can consciously prevent sabotaging thoughts from hijacking your positive thoughts.
The positive mindset in Positive Intelligence® is called the ‘Sage Perspective’; sage being our wiser self. It works on the belief that every outcome or circumstance can be turned into a gift or opportunity. It could be increasing your knowledge, enhancing your power/skills or finding some inspiration. That gift may not always be obvious immediately, but it will be there.
The Positive Intelligence® approach describes 5 Sage Powers that draw on natural, positive strengths to resolve any situation:
Empathise – compassion for self and others
Explore – curiosity to discover and understand
Innovate – creativity to identify options
Navigate – alignment with values, meaning and purpose
Activate – clear-headed, laser-focused action
A Postgraduate Doctor applied for coaching through the PSU.
What issues/goals was the client wishing to clarify/understand?
Feeling unreasonably anxious about decisions
Unable to enjoy home life as worrying about patients
Wanted to be more confident in abilities and decisions
What approach did you use to support the client?
Dr X completed the online Positive Intelligence® Saboteur Assessment which identified two main Saboteurs: Pleaser and Hyper Achiever. We worked on boundaries to manage those Saboteurs and used mindfulness (PQ® reps) to help her focus and be present. This approach also helped reduce the impact of her Hyper Vigilant Saboteur which had been causing extreme levels of over checking, follow-ups out of hours and getting second opinions unnecessarily.
What was the outcome for Dr X?
She has implemented good boundaries over working hours, is resting when she’s off, is only agreeing to social engagements she actually wants to attend and has planned some time off with the family
She has much more confidence in her abilities and decisions; she only asks for second opinions in very difficult cases; she’s mindfully being present with patients so is more confident if her diagnoses and treatment, which has stopped all the extra checking later in the day.
She’s now more efficient and productive, less tired, more organised and is doing more of the things she wants to do.
Mindfulness is about living more in the present moment, appreciating the here and now, and not dwelling too much on the past or future.
Mindful living means paying attention to the present, appreciating what is happening and enjoying the simple things in life, thus ensuring we keep a positive mindset.
This can help us to feel calmer, reduce stress or anxiety, sleep better and might help us cope better with difficult situations.
Registered psychologist and mindfulness expert Dr. Becky Spelman explains more in this video:
Positive affirmations are statements that are designed to create positive self-change in the individual using them. They can serve as inspiration, as well as simple reminders.
They need to be stated in the positive, set in the present tense and they need to be personal to the individual. It is recommended that you repeat them several times a day, out loud, whilst looking in the mirror.
You can make up your own or adopt one of these examples:
‘I am good enough; I do my best and that is enough.’
‘I do the best I can with the resources I have available to me.’
‘Observation, Reason, Human Understanding, Courage; these make the physician.’ Martin H. Fischer.
‘Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.’ Hippocrates
A growth mindset is the perspective of viewing one’s abilities as constantly evolving through practice and development.
This positive mindset allows individuals to take more risks and confront challenging experiences openly and not be held back by fear of failure, as every opportunity is a chance to learn. Obstacles are seen as an inherent part of trying something new and achieving mastery. Setbacks or constructive feedback are used as inspiration to continue learning.
People with a growth mindset may view themselves as highly capable, which can lead them to accomplish high-level goals through consistent work and motivation. In a professional setting, a growth mindset can allow individuals to develop resiliency and strive for continuous improvement.
A fixed mindset is the perspective of viewing one’s talent, intelligence and capabilities as static, innate and unchangeable and so may not actively seek opportunities for growth or development. This may lead to avoidance of challenging experiences that may be worthwhile overall, due to fear of failure.
People with fixed mindsets may often compare their own accomplishments unfavourably to other people’s. They can often fall victim to negative self-talk discouraging themselves from trying new things, ignoring feedback from others and giving up when faced with obstacles.
Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can help you achieve more, even in the face of challenges and obstacles.
Here are a few tips for developing a growth mindset:
Recognise your ability to improve and grow over the long term.
Practise positive self-talk to motivate yourself to overcome barriers.
Celebrate your development journey not just your results.
Embrace feedback to identify areas of growth.
View challenges as opportunities for growth rather than permanent obstacles.
Seek new experiences to enrich your life professionally or personally.
This BMJ article explains the importance of a growth mindset to prepare postgraduate doctors for medical error, which can be a major cause of fear and stress.
Meditation is a way to stop for a moment and be calm. After a busy shift, it gives you permission to pause, breathe and reset.
By releasing physical tension held in the body, meditation can help release worries buried in the mind, easing anxiety, stress and low mood, and even helping you get deeper, more restful sleep.
Meditation can also bring a sense of calm, helping you to maintain a positive mindset that enables you to respond to life events in a measured way, rather than reacting with your emotions.
Here’s a video by Dr Becky Spelman with a beginner’s guide in how to meditate:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your challenges by changing the way you think and behave.
It is often used to treat anxiety and depression, which can lead to a negative mindset, and can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can keep you in a negative cycle.
Through a series of sessions, it aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems with a more positive mindset by breaking them down into smaller parts. You are shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past and it looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
CBT and other mental health treatment services are available to healthcare staff at Practitioner Health
NHS: Every Mind Matters - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Apps: Headspace meditation and mindfulness app
Guided Meditation and Mindfulness - The Headspace App
Positive Intelligence; Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential And How You Can Achieve Yours by Shirzad Chamine Resources | Positive Intelligence
The Chimp Paradox; The Mind Management Programme to help you achieve success, confidence and happiness by giving you an understanding of the way in which your mind works and how you can manage it, by Prof. Steve Peters The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters | Chimp Management Offical Site
Mindset; Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential by Dr. Carol Dweck Buy Here
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown Books & Audio | Brené Brown (brenebrown.com)
Mental Fitness - with Shirzad Chamine - YouTube Positive Intelligence
Reducing Stress - with Jon Kabat-Zinn - YouTube Action for Happiness on Mindfulness
You Are Not A Frog - YouTube by doctors for doctors
SANE Home - SANE Call 0300 304 7000
Samaritans Samaritans | Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy | Here to listen Call 116 123
CALM Homepage | Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) (thecalmzone.net) for Men 0800 58 58 58
Webpage Author: Lindsay West Email: Lindsay.West@hee.nhs.uk
Lindsay West is a Certified Positive Intelligence Coach