Have you ever felt like you had an annoying sidekick at work that you couldn’t shake? Maybe you walked into a big meeting and your sidekick, Fear, took over. Or you were making a To-Do list, and Overwhelm grabbed you by the collar. Your boss may have given you a big project, and Doubt and Insecurity wanted to get in on the action. These types of unpleasant emotions usually pop-up at the least convenient times and drain your energy and confidence. It’s time to tell them they’re not welcome to stay.

It’s natural to assume that “work happens” and bothersome emotions just show up. An important detail is missing though; negative thoughts cause the undesirable emotions. Unidentified sabotaging thoughts about yourself, coworkers, or other aspects of the job are the offenders that spark the flurry of difficult emotions. The result is stress, low motivation, and apathy. And that leads to a frustrating and exhausting existence at work. 

“It’s not the environment that interferes with your ability to enjoy work and perform your best; it’s your thoughts about the environment that get in the way.”

Over 19 years ago, I left a job I loved because it was high stress, and I didn’t know how to create a healthy work-life balance with a newborn at home. I realized that it wasn’t the job that caused the tension. My annoying sidekick, Stress, followed me, like a loyal companion, into every other chapter of my life. When I was honest with myself, I acknowledged that the constant variable was ME, specifically; my thoughts. 

Through the years, there were times when I was inundated with unpleasant emotions and felt burned-out. I felt helpless and was hopeless because I couldn’t change the external factors. Trust me, I tried, but it didn’t work. And it only made me feel worse. Since then I’ve learned that I have more control over how I feel than I once imagined. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to change the external factors to feel better. When you notice and change sabotaging thoughts, unwelcome emotions automatically fade away. It’s effective, and the practice can turn your work-life around.

If you are looking for a positive change, try the tips below:

1. Acknowledge
The next time you have negative feelings, acknowledge them. Just like toddlers, being noticed calms them down. 

2. Be a detective
Ask yourself, “what’s the thought behind this emotion?” Then question it without taking it at face value because it may not be accurate, or even true. 

3. Be Aware
As you go about your day, notice the running commentary in your mind. Be curious and say, “well, those are interesting thoughts.” A little humor will help to lighten the mood and allow you to see things in a new way. 

4. Change the story
Change your internal dialogue to ditch unpleasant emotions. Negative thoughts lead to uncomfortable feelings, while positive ones result in pleasant emotions and make you feel encouraged. For example, replace “I’m not qualified to do this” with “I am capable.”

5. Smile
You don’t have to get bogged down by offending thoughts anymore. Give yourself permission to ignore them, especially when they pop up during a presentation, because they’re usually not valid and will only get in your way.

These tips will help you to feel energized again. As you change and eliminate distracting thoughts, you will shift perspective, and your work- world will start to transform before your eyes. Think about how you’ll perform at work without your annoying sidekicks weighing you down. Imagine who you could be if you showed up feeling confident and empowered. It’s time to love work again, realize your fullest potential, and have the energy to enjoy life after the workday is over.