Want to be Happy? Change Your Frame of Thought, by Erin A. Alexander, LPC

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Many times, people get caught up in being unhappy because of their job circumstances or relationship situations. For example, when a person gets hired at a governmental entity (whether it is city, county, state, federal, school district, or otherwise), he/she starts complaining about all of the policies, procedures, politics, etc. Well, from my experience in working in most of those entities, the environments are rather conservative. There is not a lot of acceptance of free-thinking, or “lone wolf” kind of attitudes. This is what the expectation is when you are hired. You are to conform to the policies and procedures…play by the rules. So when I hear people complaining about their jobs in this respect, I wonder if any of this was considered prior to their accepting the job.

In order to be happy at the job, one has to re-frame one’s thinking. I mean, you can’t really change anything, so adjust your thought processes so that you can be happy and productive at work. Make a decision to set reasonable goals for yourself so that you can feel accomplished. Set boundaries so that you’re not overwhelmed. Don’t try to control what you cannot control, because when it all boils down to it, you cannot control what others think, feel, or do. Make a calculated decision to take care of yourself, meaning have a good work-life balance.

The same thing applies to relationships. You cannot change anyone’s personality. You cannot force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s a very egocentric point of view to expect for everyone else around you to behave in specific ways to accommodate you. Babies and children do that, and many times feel as if they are being harmed by others, but as they mature, usually they grow out of that. People learn to re-frame their thinking so that they can cope with the behaviors of others, without feeling “attacked”.

So how would you get out of your own world, so to speak, and start seeing things from the perspective of others? Examples of this would be to focus on the positive qualities of others, rather than the faults; believe that people are not always engaging in behaviors with negative intent; believe in the affirmations of others for the good things that they do; and ask yourself, ‘Is this really worth my time and energy to be upset over? Am I overreacting?’

The bottom line is, when we change the way we think about situations, we really can cope with them. The whole premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is to adjust faulty thinking so that behaviors can change.


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