In my most recent posting I shared with you findings about motivation by Albert Bandura, the famous Stanford professor. Bandura writes that one’s view of how effectively one deals with stress impacts one’s motivation. I don’t think that was a surprise for many of my readers.
But Bandura’s second point was a surprise, at least for me. His second point was that our motivation will be impacted by our perception of our ability to control the thoughts that arise when we are in a stressful situation. If we feel we are able to control these thoughts, our motivation will not be impacted. But if we feel we cannot control our thoughts, our motivation will suffer.
I then went on to relate how Bandura suggested one who lacked confidence in his ability to control these thoughts could gain control. It involved giving ourselves mastery experiences, experiences in which we learned how to control these thoughts. Upon later reflection, it seemed like something you would want to do with a trained professional, and re-reading the article makes me think that this is exactly what Bandura was suggesting.
But it occurred to me later that there are easier ways to get control of these negative thoughts.
The first way is called mindfulness. I first became aware of mindfulness when I studied meditation, especially Buddhist meditation. But for me it really hit home when I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Tolle’s book, which I heartily recommend, presents mindfulness in a Western style, instead of an Eastern style, as Buddhists do. I don’t know why it resonated so much more for me; maybe it’s because I’m from the West.
If you find that you suffer from negative thoughts, thoughts in which you tell yourself that you are not okay, that you can’t handle stressful situations, that you are stupid, that you are ugly, or any of the other thousands of negative messages we give ourselves, do yourself a favor and order Tolle’s book.
The second easy way to lessen the impact of the negative thoughts is with prayer. As Paul wrote the Thessalonians, “Pray continually.” Prayer will lessen the impact of the negative voices and has other benefits, of course.
Whichever way you choose to control those negative thoughts, don’t let them rob you of your motivation. Our dreams are far too valuable for us to let them be blocked by something that we can control.