I wrote this entry because I am surrounded by friends who are stressed.
My friends are working in high-flying jobs which take up a lot of their energy and time.
They have Sunday blues. Some go for short getaways almost every weekend to ‘escape’ the stress.
I know there are some of us who ‘beat ourselves up’ when we make mistakes.
We get self-critical, unforgiving and start having unworthy thoughts when mistakes happen.
I have a mindset worksheet here which helps you reframe your thoughts when you experience something stressful.
It’s helpful for that occasional time when you ‘screw up’, make mistakes and start having downward-spiralling thoughts.
4 Step-by-Step Actions to Handle a Stressful Situation
Our feelings are controlled by our thoughts.
To change unpleasant feelings to happier, more uplifting feelings, we need to change our thoughts.
How do we do that?
Not to worry, I’ve created the Pause Perfectionism Worksheet (click to download) to make it easier for you.
I named it Pause Perfectionism because self-critical thoughts are partly caused by perfectionism.
The above is an example of how to complete the Pause Perfectionism Worksheet.
You can download the Pause Perfectionism Worksheet below.
There are 4 sections to this worksheet and each section requires action from you.
Action Step 1: Pinpoint the Problem
What is the situation causing you to be self-critical?
You did not finish a project on time?
Your colleagues laughing or being critical of your idea during a meeting?
Your boss telling you your presentation was not up to standard?
Your client got angry because he or she was not satisfied with your work?
Your colleagues giving you ‘constructive feedback’ about your work?
Action Step 2: Acknowledge your Feelings about the situation
Be honest with yourself. (Don’t be in denial.)
Write down in the Feelings column if you feel ashamed, angry, hurt, vulnerable.
Some of us feel uncomfortable admitting that we feel ashamed and hurt.
If so, ask yourself: “Why am I uncomfortable admitting that I feel hurt/ embarrassed/ like a failure?”
Is it because you think admitting to your feelings is a sign of weakness?
On the contrary, it takes strength to be vulnerable in front of others and risk being seen as a wimp.
Action Step 3: What Self-critical Thoughts are causing those feelings?
Feelings are controlled by thoughts.
If you can reframe your thoughts, you can change your feelings. It sounds simple, but it’s not easy to do.
You have to dig deep and identify your perfectionistic thoughts linked to your feelings.
Write those self-critical thoughts in the Self-Critical Thoughts column.
“My superior thinks I’m lousy.”
“Can’t believe I’m making mistakes again. Very typical. Always making mistakes.”
“They didn’t give me that project because they don’t think I’m capable enough to handle it.”
“My superior praised me today because he was in a good mood - my work wasn’t that great.”
“I did my best, but it’s still not good enough. I’m incompetent. I think I’m the slowest worker in the office. Maybe my colleagues are talking about me behind my back! That is so embarrassing - I can’t face anyone like this.”
For me, I’ve always linked mistakes with being useless.
I was brought up thinking we have to be productive every single time, which is common for Asian cultures.
I hated being ‘useless’ or a deadweight anywhere.
I’ve come a long way in embracing my own self-worth which is still an ongoing journey for me.
But that’s another topic for another time.
Action Step 4: Replace those self-critical thoughts with New Forgiving Thoughts
Looking at matters from a big perspective helps.
If your boss said your presentation sucked, it could be that you were distracted by things happening in your personal life. Thus, you were not focused at work.
Or maybe you did a shoddy job because you were too busy to prepare the presentation at length. You said ‘yes’ to too many requests and had too much on your plate.
Maybe you did not get work done because you wanted it to be ‘perfect’. You were waiting for the ‘perfect’ time when you have all your materials ready before starting. Hence, you procrastinated.
It’s not because you are incompetent!
Or maybe...your boss was not in a good mood that day. ;)
Create new self-loving thoughts to replace those self-critical ones.
“Making mistakes is common. Even (insert competent colleague’s name) has made mistakes before. I can do a better job next time!”
“I’m being self-critical right now. Time to step back, take a few deep breaths and steady my thoughts.”
You should feel lighter, breathe easier and feel calmer after embracing those self-loving and forgiving thoughts.
Download the Pause Perfectionism Worksheet
To help you transform and be less harsh on yourself at work, you can download the Pause Perfectionism Worksheet I’ve prepared below.
Also, share this article with your friends and followers if you find this useful - and help them to handle stress too!