One of my favorite holiday movies is “Jingle all the Way” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It shows how crazy the holidays can get when you believe that you must buy the perfect gift for your children and that you must keep up with the Joneses in all the best holiday decorations.
But movies can reflect real life. Do you feel the need to give the perfect gift? To have the perfect Christmas tree with the perfect lights? To be the perfect host when the family comes to visit for holidays? Do you feel intense stress over the holiday season?
Carl Jung, the most famous psychologist this side of Sigmund Freud, once declared, “Perfection belongs to the gods: the most that we can hope for is excellence.” Carl Jung is right: Trying to be perfect during the holidays is impossible, but most importantly, such thinking causes us to suffer instead of feeling joy to the world.
Albert Ellis took this principle one step further and developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). The main premise is that our irrational beliefs, such as perfectionism, cause us to feel overwhelming stress. But most importantly, to reduce our stress, we must change our irrational beliefs into realistic ones.
Do you have an irrational beliefs in your personal and business life? Here are a few that are pervasive:
I must be liked by everyone at work
I can’t get rejected.
I must meet my goals this year.
I must appear competent at all times.
It is a catastrophe when things don’t work out as planned.
If you fall into any of this irrational thinking, here is a simple three-step procedure (based in REBT) to become more rational and reduce your stress:
1. Make a list of all the beliefs that cause you anxiety in your life.
2. Go through the list and analyze whether these beliefs are realistic or irrational. For instance, some people will not like you even when you are super nice to them!
3. Ask yourself whether these beliefs are hurting your performance. Are they causing you to be unhappy? If the answer is yes, then it is time to change them into more rational ones.
Centuries ago, William Shakespeare acknowledged this timeless theme in Macbeth when he devised the famous line, “Present fears are less than horrible imaginings”. The human condition is to allow our irrational beliefs to get the best of us. It is time to break the cycle. Eliminate your irrational thinking, and instead of anxiety, you will have peace of mind, for all seasons.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at APSU. He is the author of the Washington Post bestselling business book, “Full Throttle.” Steinberg speaks about emotional toughness to Fortune 500 companies. Visit www.drgreggsteinberg.com and see his TED talk about super-resilience at http://tinyurl.com/o2anxsz