Do you always expect the worst during setbacks, see them as insurmountable and out of your depth, or do you see them as temporary and have the confidence to be able to navigate your way through them?


Hi, this is Grant Herbert, Emotional Intelligence Master Trainer and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today, I want to continue our conversation around emotional intelligence self-management strategies by talking about the very important topic right now of realistic optimism.


I've quite often been referred to as the eternal optimist, where I don't see the challenging things, and that's not always healthy either. What I do though is by developing this competency is I take control of my self-talk, and I look for the things that I can change, and I reduce that anxiety and stress that can lead to some debilitating emotions in this time right now. What we need to do is to bring some realism into that optimism.


So, it's not about just the power of positive thinking alone, it's using our logical brain, now that we know how to tap into the logical brain, without that emotional spiral, to look at things in a way that puts them in perspective, that looks at what we do know, rather than vent what we don't.


Realistic optimism is all about expecting success, seeing those setbacks as just temporary, and knowing and having the confidence in yourself and what's happening around you that you're going to be able to navigate through this current situation, and there is a future that's bigger, better, and brighter. To reach that future and enjoy it, we need to be able to employ strategies that will help us to see the future and not be stuck in the past or the present situation.


When we get this wrong, we can see bad events as lasting forever. We see luck as the only way that we're going to be able to get through things, rather than your own ability. It can leave us feeling helpless and listless a lot of the time during our day, and it can lead to some very major mental health issues like depression.


But when we learn how to do this differently, we have belief in our own ability, that we're able to make that change, and that comes from a deep sense of our personal power.


You apply that same belief to everything you do, not just a single task. You operate from a mindset of success, rather than fear, and you have a healthy self-talk. I heard it once said that an optimist is a man who gets treed by a lion, but enjoys the scenery while he's up there.


And if we look at that and how we can put that into our everyday life right now, some of us do feel like we've been forced up a tree. We're stuck. The view that we see when we're there is totally up to you and it's up to me.


So, what I want to do right now is I want to give you some tips that you can implement right now so that you can become more realistic in your outlook on life. You can bring in that optimism to empower you to be who you need to be right now and to move into your new future. So, let's get started. 


Number one is you tune into your self-talk about the adversity in your life right now. What is it that you're saying to yourself? What is your inner dialogue reminding you of? What's holding you back? So, step number one is to tune in and listen actively to what beliefs are coming out, what you think about yourself, what your self-talk is telling you and setting you up for either success or holding you back.


Number two is to examine your beliefs you have about adversity. What does it mean to you? Is it something that you see as being a whole of life thing or is it situational? Our beliefs determine our thoughts and therefore our behaviour.


So, by doing this audit of your beliefs around adversity, around setbacks, around the things that are going on in your life right now, it's going to give you the information that you need to channel into your logical brain and remove those things that are not allowing you to move forward and flip them to things that will.


Number three is to take notice of the feelings that you feel around those beliefs. So, how does it make you feel that you think that certain way about adversity? Does it make you feel fear? Does it make you feel trapped? Does it make you feel disempowered? Or are your beliefs making you feel empowered, making you feel positive in your outlook so that you can then move forward?


Sometimes, we can even feel guilty about having those beliefs. And we can beat up on ourself, and that creates a spiral down emotionally. It limits our personal power. And then we make even more decisions, based with our emotional brain, based around that, "I am a less than, rather than I'm capable." And the result is even worse. So, tune into your self-talk, examine your beliefs, and then examine the way that you feel about those beliefs.


Number four is to dispute those negative beliefs. Instead of taking them on because they feel good and they line up with how you feel about yourself, dispute them. Look for evidence from your logical brain that they are not true. They're something that you've believed, something that you've made up, and they are not actually what's really happening right now. So, step four, let's take action to get rid of those beliefs, to reject them, dispute them, and leave them behind.


Now that we've been through these four steps, we can get to number five, 'cause we're in a position where we feel confident in ourself. We've got ourself in an emotional state and a state where we are thinking logically and looking at things realistically. And we can look now for evidence to dispute those beliefs. We can look at ourself and go, "You know what? I'm not a failure. I am not whatever those beliefs were. This is what I am."


So, this whole five step process or the four steps leading to the five is to get ourselves in a position where we're thinking realistically, where we're thinking with our logical brain, where we're looking at ourself in a positive light with our big voice, not that mini-me that wants to hold us back.


So, let me introduce you to a strategy, a method that you can use so that you can operate out of a position of realistic optimism. And it's really simple for me to remember because it is A, B, C, D, E. Let's have a look at it.


The A stands for adversity, the B stands for belief, the C for consequences, the D for disputation, and the E is for energisation. Let's pull them apart and put them into context with an actual live scenario.


So, let's say you were having a dinner party and you invited some friends. And this friend came along and the adversity was your friend came, but they sat there and they didn't eat any of the food. So, that's the adversity. Now, that can trigger a lot of thoughts. And depending on what you move into the belief zone with, will determine what you do with that.


So, the belief could be, she didn't like the food. I'm a lousy cook. I don't even know why I try to make friends. I don't think there's any need at all for me to try and pursue her as a friend in the future because I'm not a good friend. So, that belief can become very powerful based out of that adversity, because that's what you made it mean and it can then move into the consequences.


So, the consequences in this scenario could be I feel really bad and awful about myself for thinking that way. I feel embarrassed that I've cooked such terrible food. And I actually avoid spending any time with that person for the whole night because of the way that I feel.


So, the consequence of the belief is what we really want to tap into because then we can decide whether or not we want that to be a consequence in our life. To be in control and to be able to move forward, there needs to be enough pain around what's happening or enough pleasure for us to move through. And we've talked about how the brain works and the pleasure circuits and dopamine, et cetera, works in our brain in previous weeks. So, the third part of the process, the C is to look at the consequences.


So, we've had A, B, C. We've had the adversity, the belief, and the consequence. So, now what we can do is we can move into the D, which is the disputation. This is where we look for evidence that what we believe is not true. So, we could look at the fact that there was several people at the dinner party and everybody else ate the food. So, the food wasn't awful. She could be on a diet. She could be only able to eat certain things. She might've have been feeling very well.


So, we're looking for evidence that's contrary to the belief that we have. What we do most of the time was we look for evidence of what we believe so that we can submit those beliefs because those beliefs are what are keeping us safe. Those beliefs are all about where we feel about ourself in that given moment, in that time of our life.


So, what we're going to do here is dispute those negatives and we're going to replace them with real evidence. And to do that, we obviously need to work in the logical brain. And the E stands for energisation. So, what the energisation is is by disputing those beliefs and having a different belief, it energises us. It becomes an empowering feeling.


And in that energisation in this scenario, what it would energise us to do is to invest some more time with that person, to talk to that person, to get around that person, and enjoy their company, and to remove that feeling of fear, anxiety, whatever it was that you were going through, and enjoy the rest of your night, and enjoy the company of everyone else that's there as well.


So, what we believe affects our energy. So, by disputing those negative beliefs, putting in the real beliefs, it changes how we come across energetically. We're more engaged, we're more enthusiastic, and we feel more empowered.


So, that is a five step process, A, B, C, D, E. Easy to remember. Adversity, belief, consequence that moves us into disputation and energisation. With realistic optimism, we're able to navigate, whether it be in a period right now in this COVID-19 disruption or in any time in our life, we're able to navigate more effectively what it is that we're going through, rather than be more present.


We're able to feel more positive emotions because we're looking at life with reality, rather than the made up stories that our negative self-talk and our negative self-worth conjures up.


Realistic optimism is one of the 10 competencies of self-management in the four quadrants of social and emotional intelligence. So, it starts with self-awareness, and then we move into these competencies of self-management.


And if you'd like some help to get involved in your own development of your emotional intelligence, let me know, drop a comment, go to my website, wherever you need to connect with me, and ask some questions. I'd love to help you on your journey. 


Well, that's it for me for another week. Join me again next week when we continue this journey through self-management by learning to be more intentional. I'll see you then.

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