How we view our future and the circumstances we are faced with makes all the difference in the world when it comes to our success. Dr. Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, was especially tuned in to the ways in which people interpret their situations — his therapeutic model heavily emphasized the fact that we don’t always get to choose the things that happen to us (i.e. losing a job due to downsizing), but we do have complete control over how we view the event (as a healthy challenge or a scary threat).
Improve your mental toughness
I have always appreciated cognitive-behavioral psychology, especially as this approach focuses on the ways in which we think (and how irrational we can sometimes be when making cognitive appraisals). Regardless of who you are (athlete, business leader, house wife), or what you would like to accomplish (earning a college athletic scholarship, closing a big business deal, or becoming a better parent), how you frame your future will make all the difference in the world.
For the athlete, framing the future in a healthy, positive way will propel him to work hard and do all the things he needs to do in order to hopefully earn a college athletic scholarship. Conversely, if he is threatened by the long odds of earning an athletic scholarship, his motivation, persistence, and resiliency will suffer – and he will likely never come close to the scholarship opportunity. Similarly, if the business leader challenges himself to earn that big deal, or if the house wife challenges herself to become a more patient and understanding parent, both will have a much greater opportunity for those things to occur.
Control your thinking
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about cognitive framing is that it is 100% under our control! Think about that for a moment — whatever it is that you are currently facing (i.e. making a sports team, getting good grades, earning a new job, or becoming a better spouse/parent) will happen (or not happen) in direct proportion to the value you give each of these opportunities. Frame them as healthy life challenges and you will rise to the task; look at them as scary, intimidating threats and you will likely fall short.
Change can (and does) happen in a moment’s notice – take time out to think about the things you want to change or improve up, and then examine how you are framing the issue. Are you looking at it as a healthy personal challenge, or are you instead already beaten before you have even started? Choose wisely, as this single decision may be the most important as it applies to your future success.
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