As we continue our journey in the Build Your Optimism essential, today we dive into building greater awareness of our explanatory style. In the moment. In real time. Before our negative self-talk hijacks our thinking and emotions. Research shows that we have over 50,000 thoughts per day, so there is all the reason to harness our self-talk as we become BTL.
Here are a few insights I’ve gained over the years from Building self and others in the context of our personal explanatory style:
- Our Strengths can influence our explanatory style.
One of my top 5 Strengths is Achiever. I start each day at zero. I joke that I could have discovered the cure to cancer yesterday and today I’d start with a big goose egg on my ledger. It’s how I’m wired and I’m very aware of it. However if it permeates my identity so that I get down on self if I don’t hit a goal or if I perceive one incident as pervasive, that’s not helpful. Remember – hard on self, not down on self. Tuning into my self-talk is key in the moment.
2. Our Identity, which is a key part of our Core, informs our explanatory style.
I challenge my clients to write their Identity statements (I Am’s) as we build their Core. I then ask them to review them to see if they wrote their Identity statements in negative terms, in neutral terms or in positive terms. If their statements are primarily written from a negative vantage point it can offer insight that they lean into or have a pessimistic explanatory style.
If so, what is the Productive Action? Reframe their Identity statements to write them in positive terms that feel authentic to their Core. Flip the script. We have a choice.
3. A pessimistic explanatory style can also reveal itself through the use of absolutes in conversation, and especially in self-talk, which indicates a fixed mindset.
Example: Things always go wrong when I’m in charge.
One of my favorite Productive Actions is to develop a healthy go-to set of questions you can ask yourself, especially in challenging circumstances. Thank you Merilee Adams, for your excellent book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. Dr. Adams shares suggested questions you may consider including in your tool kit as you identify and shape your explanatory style. I encourage my clients to add to it their own go-to questions that best fit them.
So how would you describe your explanatory style today? Is it helping you or hurting you?
Write what you are thinking. Get feedback from a trusted truthteller. And then choose some PA’s to PoP it out to a better destination.
This is the worthy work of Building your optimism.