How to stop sabotaging yourself at work: the power of positive intelligence

We’ve written before about saboteurs, the subconscious parts of us that can negatively impact our work lives.

If unobserved, unanalysed, and unchallenged, these saboteurs can wreak havoc on our careers. But there are ways we can prevent this from happening, and change our thinking habits to maintain a more positive mindset when focusing on challenges and goals.

Positive intelligence can help us challenge our saboteurs, think in more helpful ways, and ultimately improve our overall quality of life, as well as our work relationships.

What is positive intelligence?

Positive intelligence can be thought of as your mental fitness. It’s the overall time your mind spends in a positive state, which is vital in achieving your full potential at work.

If your physical fitness is poor, you’ll struggle with basic exercises. Similarly, if your mental fitness is poor, you’re more likely to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, or depression. This can have a negative impact on your work, your confidence, your self-esteem, and in turn your wider personal life.

The good news is that your mental fitness, just like your physical fitness, is something that you can learn, develop, and improve.

Improving your positive intelligence is based around removing the power from your saboteur, and increasing the power of your sage, your positive mental qualities and habits. Our brains are more adaptable than we might think, with the ability to create new neural pathways if we invest time and effort into changing how we think.

How to build positive intelligence

Practice positive thinking

Positive thinking helps retrain the brain to think in less negative patterns. It can be difficult at the start, but seeing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, instead of potential failures, can help us approach work with more energy.

Eventually, positive thinking stops becoming conscious work, and you will think in more positive ways without trying.

Practice gratitude

Practising gratitude helps us frame the world differently. If you’ve fallen into a negative mindset, it can be hard to think of things to be grateful for, but they don’t have to be life-changing, it can be as simple as being grateful for a nice meal, a good conversation, or getting a seat on the train.

Even thinking of one thing you’re grateful for at the end of each day can help make a difference in how you think, and increase your positive thinking abilities.

Practice saboteur interception and self-command

This last technique for building positive intelligence is the most difficult, but can potentially make the biggest difference.

Once you know what your major saboteur is, you can begin to intercept your thoughts when you notice them heading in a negative direction. Interrupting negative thoughts can break the thought pattern, giving you the space to challenge them before they spiral out of control.

From here, you can practice self-command, directing your thoughts in a more helpful or productive way. Again, this is something that can be difficult at the start, but gets easier over time.

We all self-sabotage, and it can be so automatic that we don’t even realise it. Some people can spend entire careers sabotaging relationships with colleagues, letting anger, fear or jealousy stop them from succeeding. Recognising our saboteurs for what they are is the first step in overcoming them.

From there, you can begin to re-train your brain and strengthen positive intelligence by working on it a little bit every day. Eventually, you will begin to see a change in the ways that you think, and it will become easier and easier to challenge your saboteurs, and eventually defeat them.

Read more about how you can change your work habits, or learn about peer support and manager support and why you need both.

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Posted on: 2nd August 2022