I don’t know about you, but I struggle with perfectionism. It doesn’t matter how many tasks I complete each day or how many times my boss tells me I’m doing a great job — the minute I catch an error in my work or receive critical feedback from someone, I panic. Sometimes I become so consumed by what I’m doing wrong that I literally cannot see anything I do right. This spills over into all aspects of my life, including my own self-worth.

I know that my current thinking patterns aren’t benefiting me, but until recently I didn’t think that there was a way to really change them. After stumbling on the work of Dr. Jason Selk, a mental toughness expert and author of Relentless Solution Focus, though, I learned that there’s a whole different world out there — a world where I don’t spend my nights worrying about the tiny mistakes I made during the work day.

Why “Problem-Centric” Thought Patterns Hurt Us

Most of us don’t wake up one day and decide to be pessimists, but the constant negativity within the world often causes us to develop hardened exteriors. We look for problems in every scenario and sit in silent anticipation for “the other shoe to drop.”

Sure, we claim that we’re simply “preparing for the worst,” but does that mentality really help us?

Well, if you ask Dr. Selk, our societal obsession with “problem-centric thought” is actually costing us a lot more than we realize.

According to him, “Our brains have a difficult time telling the difference between what we think will happen and reality.” In other words, our perception often becomes our reality, meaning that our negative thought patterns ultimately feed us negative outcomes.

In fact, research shows that frequent criticism, cynicism, and denial creates neural pathways within our brains that cause us to experience stress and sadness more frequently. When this happens, we instantly spiral at the mere thought of a negative outcome.

These problematic thought patterns can lead to complacency, underperformance, and even lost opportunities. Even worse, problem-centric thought patterns cause increases in stress and anxiety, which can impact sleep, deteriorate your mental health, slow digestion, and decrease your immune system’s functionality. 

Steps to Develop a Relentless Solution Focus

Although changing problematic thought patterns is no easy task, Dr. Selk has spent years researching and developing an approach to help people reframe their problems so that they can thrive instead of flounder.

This approach, which he calls Relentless Solution Focus, will help you counteract your natural problem-centric thinking, develop mental toughness, and ultimately find success.

You can develop a Relentless Solution Focus by following Dr. Selk’s three-step process:

1. Recognize

Before you can change thinking or behavioral patterns, you must recognize when you’re engaging in it. Through Dr. Selk’s RSF process, you gain awareness of your negative thought patterns so that you can use the onset of these thoughts to work towards change. This is a key component to changing any habit, but it’s critical to undoing your current thought patterns that have become so automatic.

2. Replace

Once you recognize your problem-focused thinking patterns, you must work on replacing your negative thoughts with different, more positive ones. While this isn’t easy to do at first, you must work on it so that you can replace the negative thoughts very quickly. Dr. Selk recommends that you use “The Mental Chalkboard” and ask yourself “What is one thing I can do right now that could make this better?”

3. Retrain

In his teachings, Dr. Selk explains, “No muscle becomes strong without training, developing mental strength requires training as well.” You can work on retraining your brain by using Dr. Selk’s Mental Workout and Success Logs, which are included in his upcoming book, Relentless Solution Focus.

Need Help Training Your Brain?

Knowing about Relentless Solution Focus is all well and good, but what can you do to start retraining your brain and developing mental toughness? 

For starters, you can pick up a copy of Dr. Selk’s book, Relentless Solution Focus, which is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Or, if you’re looking for a more in-depth approach to performance improvement, you can also enroll in Dr. Selk’s Executive Coaching program or book Dr. Selk to speak at your company’s next event.

No matter where you are in life, you don’t have to remain stuck there. By pulling yourself out of your problematic thinking patterns and utilizing Dr. Jason Selk’s proven approach to decreasing stress and increasing success, you too can reach your dreams.