In a recent article, I discussed how the real cause of all stress, is how people interpret events and situations that take place in their lives, particularly in their advising jobs. The culprit is our self-talk, which always determines whether or not the situation will cause us stress. To review, using as an example the market volatility events of the past month, it goes like this:
Events are neutral. Stress and anxiety are the result of unchecked, negative self-talk patterns that you consistently use following these events. The good news is that you can learn to control your self-talk. Once you recognize that you are engaging such thinking patterns, you can modify them, thus dramatically reducing the stress.
Here are four of the most common negative, self-defeating self-talk patterns that people unconsciously and automatically use on a regular basis. (In my next article, I will include another four)
Steve had been working in a wealth management firm for four years. While he really enjoyed his colleagues on the team, he was intimidated by his managing director. When he observed how calm the director remained, despite frantic calls from clients during weeks of market volatility, for example, Steve told himself that it would be awful to have clients lose faith in his “inability” to forecast such market fluctuations (Magnification). He believed that he had to be able to “always” have an answer for every question clients might ask him (All or Nothing).
When Steve’s prospecting success was slow, he assumed that his Managing Director was disappointed in him and would eventually fire him (Mind Reading and Fortune Telling).
Steve felt helpless and hopeless. He considered resigning from the firm and looking for a new career. Fortunately, before doing so, he engaged my coaching services. I helped him to understand that his stress, fear, anxiety and feelings of helplessness/hopelessness were all the direct result of his self-defeating self-talk patterns that he engaged in regularly.
We began to replace these stress-producing thinking patterns with healthy, rational thoughts, such as this series of thoughts:
“I will never be able to please every client because many clients insist on perfection and with the market that is impossible. If a client has this agenda, then I have the option of gently referring him out of our practice. The relief I will feel will be well worth the fees lost.”
“When I begin to assume that my Managing Director has an issue with me, I will assertively ask for a moment of his time to see what, if anything, is bothering him regarding my performance. I’m sure that I’m either over-thinking and completely wrong about his beliefs about my performance or if he does have criticism, I can learn from it and thrive. I will ask his advice and the advice of other more seasoned advisors about strategies to prospect for clients during these economic times.”
Practicing exposing his negative, irrational, over-analyzing thinking habits and learning how to counter each negative thought dramatically ramped up Steve’s confidence. Today he is among the top producers in his firm!