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Brilliant Stress Management by Dr. Mike Clayton

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Control your mental response to stress 119
character; picture yourself painting it in a stupid colour for ret-
ribution; or imagine how it would look if you put it in the oven
for an hour.
Optimism
An optimistic outlook is a huge asset. This is not about blindly
believing that things will work out. This is about looking for
opportunities that will create a good outcome, and about recog-
nising your strengths and resources, and building on them.
Glass half full
‘Glass-half-full’ optimism is about seeing the bright side of eve-
rything and, by extension, ignoring the problems. An optimist,’
some say,differs from a pessimist because they are not in possession
of all of the facts. Glass-half-full optimism is shallow; it is not
enough.
Three real differences distinguish optimists from pessimists:
their attitudes to fault, to permanence, and to responsibility.
Fault
A pessimist, prone to stress, will assume that whatever goes
wrong is somehow their fault. An optimist will recognise that
most events or failures are not their fault and, indeed, many are
nobody’s fault at all. Where something is their fault, rather than
dwell on the failing, they seek to learn from it, put it right, and
move on.
Permanence
Another distinction is in how optimists and pessimists take a
long view of setbacks. An optimist will see any setback as tem-
porary; something that, with the right effort and enough support
and time, can be reversed. Pessimists see setbacks as part of an
inevitable pattern that will persist indenitely – or at least until
their luck changes.
120 brilliant stress management
Responsibility
This is the big one. The optimist accepts responsibilities for
their actions, but thereby takes responsibility for their future.
This is the reason why optimism is
such a powerful component of stress
management: by taking responsi-
bility, you give yourself the power
to control your future; you seize
control. A pessimist believes some
outside agency – luck, other people,
the establishment, or a god – has it in for them and that anything
that goes wrong is outside their control.
Tune your antennae
If you know what you want, and you tune up your senses to be
aware of your surroundings, you will be astonished at how often
you will spot opportunities to change your life for the better. An
optimist is someone who believes this is true – not only because
they have experienced it but because they know that this gives
them the best chances in life.
Yes, things will go wrong for you from time to time. On average,
it will be no more than for the next person. If you focus on your
problems, however, it will always seem more, whether it is or
not. An optimistic frame of mind will allow you to focus not on
the problem, but on the aspects of your situation that you can
actively manage.
Real optimists do not ignore risk; they embrace it. They identify
risks, but instead of fearing them, they assess those risks real-
istically. Where the risks seem serious in terms of outcome or
likelihood of occurring, they focus on how they can manage the
risk, by reducing its impact, or making it less likely to occur. Or,
at the very least, they think through how they can deal with the
situation, should the risk manifest itself.
by taking responsibility,
you give yourself the
power to control your
future

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