When you think you can’t

Stress can be an incredibly powerful motivator. Most of the time, we see it as a negative, but that’s because our days are generally overwhelmed with stress. And, our coping skills have evolved to help us survive in environments very different (Cosmides & Tooby, 2013). Our mind protects us from harm and further stress by telling us that “we can’t”.

Coping with everyday life is complex and learning to make healthier decisions is a lifelong journey; it’s not something we can learn in one blog, book, podcast or TED talk. Every day we need to learn how to show up in a way that changes our focus from what we can’t do, to what we can.

From how we relate to our family and feel about making luxury purchases to engaging with clients and customers and managing our money, stress always crops up. We can try to avoid it (nearly impossible) or view it as an opportunity to develop and exercise our character.

Psychological research in sports, business, and beyond has identified approaches, skills, and tools to help us cope, overcome, and flourish.

The ABCDE model, developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, provides a reflective framework that supports us in changing our emotions and behaviours by identifying irrational beliefs and swapping them with rational ones.

  1. ADVERSITY – Acknowledge the activity or adversity that is triggering. For example, not getting the raise you were hoping for or losing a pitch with a new client.
  2. BELIEFS – Recognise the irrational beliefs that come to mind when you face adversity. For example, you may believe you are worthless or not good enough and never get anything right.
  3. CONSEQUENCES – Recognise the consequences of those irrational beliefs. For example, you may give up trying or decide to lower your standards and start accepting second-best.
  4. DISPUTE – Dispute the irrational beliefs and replace them with rational beliefs. For example, you can remind yourself of all your happy clients and customers and the excellent work and acknowledgement you’ve achieved and received in the past.
  5. EFFECT – Notice the effect of your new beliefs and the confidence you have to change your situation. For example, you could approach your boss or prospective clients and find out how to do better, or you can keep yourself open to better opportunities that lie around the corner. 

Ultimately, we can’t stop our emotions from running amok. Still, we can interrupt them and become more intentional about what we believe about ourselves and how we will choose to respond in stressful situations.

There are many other strategies, including having a coach or mentor to help you see your blind spots (and irrational beliefs). For many years, financial planners have begun to play a strong coaching and support role to their clients, and as such, together, we can work towards helping you push a little harder or take a healthy rest when you think that you can’t.

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