Everyday brings with it newer technology, better ways to connect and a faster pace of life.But it also brings us ‘at work’ even when we are ‘at home’. Sometimes it isn’t just about disconnecting but about connecting with a part of ourselves that we have forgotten about. Lokesh Chebium speaks about the role of metaphysics in enriching not just our personal lives, but our work lives as well.

The earth had just turned toward the December sun one beautiful Saturday morning. The kind of day that sets the tone for an upbeat mood or a family outing. I even had the strains of a impeccable background score to accompany my morning quota of filter coffee. But there I was; anything but a reflection of my perfect surroundings. Instead a sunken face and a man lost in his thoughts was what greeted my wife Sudha. “Work Stress?” she asked knowingly, and I just nodded almost as a reflex action. She sat herself down beside me and spoke to me about something we rarely take into consideration in our humdrum lives. A long conversation ensued about her understanding about Metaphysics and it’s relevance to each of us. And what she read out to me from an article that day has really left an impact. “We are energy beings and our world is mentally caused. Knowing this truth is the key to our happiness. Whatever we think on a daily basis materializes as our experience. Here and now we are creating our own destiny, in accordance with what wethink day-by-day.”

Enriching your work life
We all spend a considerable amount of time at the workplace or participating in work-related activities. This has only increased in the last decade thanks to cell phones and emails. If we really sit to analyse how much of our mind is pre-occupied with work-related matter, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us come up with the conclusion – ‘Most of the time’. Therefore, it is imperative to find out what it is that we really experience internally and what are we doing to make our work life an enriching one. While setting goals has become a way of life for us, isn’t it important that we make the process of achieving it or the journey itself an enriching experience, rather than a stressful one? Have you thought about what exactly this term ‘stress’ entails? Basically, when an individual experiences stress, it not only impacts their work behaviour but also the broader work environment. Indeed, psychological injury is recognised as the most costly type of workers’ compensation claim.

Taking this into consideration, the article my wife read to me on metaphysics and its various concepts is something I try to implement in my work life. And I’d like to share with you the gist of it in a more structured manner.

Causes of your internal experiences
Whatever happens to you or that experience in life is a manifestation of your own thoughts. The way you live, your career, the people you meet, your friends, are all a direct product of your thoughts and beliefs. Your thoughts are energy and if you keep thinking or believing in something, in all likelihood it will happen! It doesn’t matter whether you really want illness, bankruptcy, unhappiness or loneliness;if you think about it, you’ll get it. Negatives or problems are man-made and will die along with you. They are unique to you and will remain till you choose to think about them, thus keeping them alive. The moment you decide not to focus on them or give them energy, they cannot exist.

Many-a-time, the way we feel about a situation comes from our perception or belief of it, which may not necessarily be correct. For instance, sometimes we're unreasonably harsh with ourselves or we jump to wrong conclusions about people's motives or intentions. Usually, negative thoughts are like a chain reaction, it doesnot stop with one thought but results in a series of thoughts, making us unhappy, and it can lead to us being unfair to others. Perception is the key to this, as,technically, situations are not stressful in their own right. Rather, it's our interpretation of the situation that drives the level of stress that we feel. While I am not saying that our interpretation will always be wrong,very often we are overly harsh and unjust with ourselves in a way that we would never be with friends or team members. This, along with other negative thinking, can cause intense stress and unhappiness, and can severely undermine our self-confidence.So the key to enriching our lives is to control our thoughts and channelize the energy in them towards positivity.

Tools for enriching our experiences

Being Aware of your Thoughts:

Negative thoughts can be explained as thoughts where you are afraid of the future; where you put yourself down, undermine your abilities or expect failure. Negative thinking damages your confidence, harms your performance, and paralyzes your mental skills.

Examples of common negative thoughts are:

 

Worries about how you appear to other people (“They will think I’m stupid.”)

 

A preoccupation with the symptoms of stress (“I can’t stop thinking about how tense my shoulders are.”)

 

Dwelling on consequences of poor performance (“If I fail this test, my parents will be so disappointed.”)

 

Self criticism (“I am not as smart as she is.”)

 

Feelings of inadequacy (“I feel like I will never understand this material.”)


The characteristic feature of these thoughts is that they enter, leave, re-enter your mind, without you noticing them, yet they do their damage. As you are often not aware of their existence, you are not in position to judge if they are correct or wrong.Yet, this does not reduce their harmful effect. Being aware of your thoughts is the process by which you observe your thoughts and become aware of what is going through your head.

One way to be more aware of your thoughts is to observe them. When you are experiencing a stressful situation, don’t supress those thoughts; instead observe the stream of thoughts while they are running their entire course and make a note of them in a sheet of paper. A better way would be logging stress in a diary. One of the benefits of using a diary is that, for one or two weeks, you log all of the unpleasant things in your life that cause you stress. This will include negative thoughts and anxieties, and can also include difficult or unpleasant memories and situations that you perceive as negative.

By logging your negative thoughts for a reasonable period of time, you can quickly see patterns in your negative thinking. When you analyze your diary at the end of the period, you should be able to see the most common and most damaging thoughts. Tackle these as a priority.Awareness is the first step in the process of managing negative thoughts, as you can only manage thoughts that you're aware of.

Thinking Rationally:
The next step in dealing with negative thinking is to challenge the negative thoughts that you have identified. Look at every thought you have written down and rationally challenge it. Ask yourself whether the thought is reasonable, and does it stand up to fair scrutiny?Often, you find that when you properly challenge negative thoughts, they are obviously wrong. Often they persist only because they escape notice.

Thinking Positively and Opportunity Seeking
Where you have used Rational Thinking to challenge incorrect negative thinking, it's often useful to use rational positive thoughts and affirmations to counter them. It's also useful to look at the situation and see if there are any opportunities that are offered by it.Affirmations help you to build self-confidence. By basing your affirmations on the clear, rational assessments of facts that you made using Rational Thinking, you can undo the damage that negative thinking may have done to your self-confidence.

Part of Positive Thinking is to look at opportunities that the situation might offer to you. Make sure that you take the time to identify these opportunities and focus on them as part of your positive thinking.

Substitution of Thoughts:

A thought you want to let go of has to be replaced immediately by another thought. In other words, it is impossible to eliminate a thought from your mind unless you fill the space with something else.

For example, instead of thinking about the thunderstorm, you can substitute the thoughtwith a nice warm bath and a steaming cup of tea. That won’t make the thunderstorm go away, but it will make you feel better. Whatever you focus upon you get and if you focus on the positive instead of trying to push away the negative, which is an impossibility, life will change.

Forgiving Self:
The mind is continuously responding to various feelings. Feelings create chemical reactions, which cause negative hormones to flood through your body and every cell of your body is then bathed in hormones that will make you sick and get old.

Forgiveness is not about the other person; forgiveness is for you, to heal you. You may feel justified in holding on to anger or hatred against others or feel you have every right to do so, but you must ask, “Who am I hurting when I hold on to this anger and hatred?” You know the answer is you. That person or those people may have hurt you in the past but every time you re-live the event, it means that you carry on hurting yourself. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

You can also be forgiven when you feel true and genuine remorse for the transgressions you have made. When you know in your heart that you have changed and you can truly say that the new you would always be faithful, honest and kind, you are forgiven.

General Tips

1. Improve your mind-set. Focus on what is right in your work. You can be a HERO by developing:

 

Hope – choosing to think positively in any situation, given any challenge.

 

Self-Efficacy – be a motivated self-starter, no matter how mundane your responsibilities.

 

Resilience – the ability to transmute any challenge into a benefit.

 

Optimism – choosing to imagine what can go right; being solution-oriented.


2. If you’re an employer, hire optimistic, self-motivated can-do people for all positions. If you’ve got negative people on your team, enlist them: tell them you want THEM to give you some ideas for positive ways to improve the workplace.

3. If you work with negative people, here are some ways to lift their mood and diminish the toxic effects of their sour energy.

 

Compliment them – sincerely (focus on specifics, whether personal or professional)

 

Don’t commiserate with them, as this will create a negative downward spiral of complaining, blaming and judging; acknowledge their concerns but always offer a positive spin on everything.

 

If you need to critique them, give constructive criticism in the form of a “compliment sandwich” – a compliment first, then constructive criticism, then an optimistic way to move forward.

 

Challenge any negative attitudes by pointing out the importance of being solution-oriented. “We’re looking at the problem, not the solution. Do you have any ideas that focus on what we want to accomplish? Let’s try this angle – instead of working forward from problem to solution, let’s work backward from solution to problem.”

 

4. Express gratitude. Recognize others for their contribution; express thanks for the fact that you have a job (many don’t!); be thankful for the skills and knowledge you are gaining – even if you learn things like how not to treat employees!

5. Focus on strengths – your own and your team’s. If you’re an employer, take the time to recognize what people are naturally good at and like doing and delegate those tasks to them. Don’t try pushing square people into round holes.

6. Be flexible. Anyone can get stuck in the rut of “this is how things are done.” But… are they? Necessarily? Everywhere? With success? Explore alternatives. Maybe a too-strict rule needs to be bent, or an out-dated protocol needs to be updated. Respectfully listen to everyone’s ideas – you never know where the next best idea will come from!

7. Celebrate milestones. Big projects often take more manpower and resources than initially budgeted, so keep people motivated by celebrating milestones. If you’re the employee, you can do this too, even if the boss shows no inclination to do so!

8. Make everyone feel valued and important. Acknowledge specific accomplishments or talents. You can do this whether you’re an employer or an employee!

While I was writing this piece, I was actually introspecting and thinking of ways to implement each of these tools. I hope what I’ve had to say helps those who read this. I would like to leave you with one thought: “Happiness is not a matter of desire but a matter of decision.” 

Lokesh Chebium

Mr. Lokesh Chebium, heads the business development for the all the financial products of IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN) and its subsidiaries.
He is responsible for client coverage and sourcing across India



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Opinions expressed by the Contributors are their own and do not reflect any opinion of IL&FS Financial Services on the said subject

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