Attitude, Self Talk, and Stress
The Single Most Important Thing You Can do to Manage Your Stress
Attitude and Self-Talk Affect Your Feelings of Stress
A major component of feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed is due to the fact we feel out of control of the people, events and circumstances of life. While it's true that we don't always have control of the external factors that induce stressful feelings, we do have the ability to control some internal factors -- namely our attitude and self-talk -- that will contribute to both the reduction of stress and the prevention of stress.
Two of the four main sources of stress are external, or factors outside of ourselves: environment and social stressors such as demands of work or school, financial considerations, social events, family dynamics and more. The other two main sources of stress are internal, or factors at least somewhat within our control, namely physiological factors that include health, quality and quantity of sleep and more, and finally, the source over which you have the most control -- your thoughts.
Your attitude is your mental outlook. It can be an overall, pervading mental outlook, or it can be in regards to a specific person, thought, event or circumstance. Others view your attitude as your temperament, disposition, state of mind or character. Your attitude is your basic framework for how you are going to go about your day, this moment, or any other point in time.
Like self-talk, that ongoing dialogue in your mind with yourself, attitude is not something we think about often. But both attitude and self-talk can be powerful tools for stress management.
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Maya Angelou
Tony Robbins on Positive Attitude
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- Attitude Is More Important Than You Think
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Where Does Your Attitude Come From?
Your attitude, or mental outlook, on any person, group, event, location or circumstance is mostly learned. As a child, you adopted attitudes about the people, places and things around you from adults important in your life; as an adolescent your attitudes were shaped by peers or people you wished to emulate; as an adult your attitudes are still influenced by others. Throughout life, one attitude or another met with positive or negative results, influencing whether you retained or changed the attitude in question.
There are many and complex factors affecting the formation of your various attitudes. One such factor,explained by the attribution theory, is how you explain to yourself the reason for various occurrences. Do you usually place responsibility or blame on others or factors outside of your control or do you usually place responsibility or blame on yourself?
You may be wondering how your view of responsibility can affect your attitude. In general, those who more often place responsibility for something outside of themselves are also believers of destiny or fate. Having this are a core belief will color your mental outlook, your attitude, toward everyday life occurrences.
Those who more often accept responsibility within themselves as a core belief will have their attitudes affected by that belief.
If you were to face the world each day with one of these two basic thoughts, which one do you think would promote the more positive attitude?
- The boss has never liked me anyway. Let's just get this day over with.
- I need to talk to my boss to learn where I can improve, then we can both move forward in the right direction.
The first thought may be something a person who believes the cards are stacked against him might think; his attitude may be one of simply enduring the drudgery or manifest as passive-aggressive behavior.
The second thought shows the person accepting responsibility for the rift between himself and the boss and seeking a way to mend it. His attitude may be one of hopefulness or manifest as assertive behavior.
If you find yourself believing you are often the victim, you may have more difficulty choosing to have a positive attitude because, after all, it's not your fault, right? But just as you learned to place the majority of the blame on others, you can learn not to do so. As you un-learn that core belief, you'll begin to see you have more control in your life -- and more control equals less stress.
"Your living is not so much determined by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." Khalil Gibran
Examples of Positive Self Talk
Ways to Correct Negative Self-Talk
I never do anything right
I can do some things well, but this project is difficult for me
They expect too much of me
I'll do one thing at a time to meet my goals. I will discuss their expectations if they are unreasonable
I'm too tired to do this
I'll take a mental break and come back and try later
How to Use Self-Talk to Improve Attitude and Reduce Stress
Self-talk is that internal dialogue that is always running in the background of our thoughts and actions. It's a product of our previous life experiences, our reactions to them, our personality, and our hopes and goals.
Self-talk is much like an internal coach that can either prod us forward or mire us in negativity. Most of the time we don't give much thought to the internal dialogue, it's just a part of our being. But if you want to learn to develop more positive and helpful attitudes in order to manage the stress-producing situations in your life, you'll need to begin to mindfully control how you talk to yourself.
For example, in the past when I made silly mistakes, I would berate myself mentally with, "That was really stupid," or "You ought to know better," and the attitude that followed was one of momentary dejection or disappointment in myself. If I did that many times in a day, my overall attitude was affected; I felt worthless and lost enthusiasm -- all of that over minor mistakes that were easily corrected.
I learned to be kinder to myself by correcting such self-talk with statements like, "Slow down, you'll do better," or "Next time will work out better." I still find myself at times talking internally to myself like a scolding parent or tough drill sergeant, but I take the small amount of time to refresh that self-talk with something more positive or encouraging.
This sounds like such a small thing, and it is, but repeated over and over during a day, it can affect your attitude, your outlook in those moments, that day, and even a lifetime -- if you let it. Or, you can take control, one moment at a time, and discover better ways to handle what life brings your way.
"Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure. The way you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You are overcome by the fact because you think you are." Norman Vincent Peale
Best Books on Attitude, Positive Self Talk
Sources for Attitude, Self Talk and Stress
- Shaping Beliefs and Attitudes
- Self Talk and Stress
Negative self talk causes stress. Positive self talk relieves stress.
- UF Counseling & Wellness Center
- Four Ways to Deal with Stress
Four techniques for managing stress
- Attribution Theory and Locus of Control
- Attitude Quotes - BrainyQuote
Attitude Quotes from BrainyQuote, an extensive collection of quotations by famous authors, celebrities, and newsmakers.
Clinical Research Studies on Stress
You may be interested in participating in one or more clinical research studies that seek to evaluate stress and/or stress reduction. If so, visit clinicaltrials.gov and type "stress" into the search box.
A list of all ongoing studies will be shown. In the left-hand column, it will state whether that particular study is recruiting study participants. If you are interested in a study that is recruiting or will be recruiting participants in the future, click on the study title and you'll learn what criteria is being used to select participants.
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