The Thought-Patterns of Success 1:50 PM Monday April 30, 2012 by Elizabeth Grace Saunders | Comments (33) EMAIL SHARE PRINT Your passion for your career can sabotage your attempts to succeed. When you go from feeling energized, excited and in control of your work to feeling an overwhelming compulsion to achieve and produce, you've tipped from helpful harmonious passion into harmful obsessive passion. But when you've grown accustomed to operating from a state of obsessive passion, you may want to act differently, but you just don't know how. Your deeply ingrained mental and behavioral patterns naturally lead you toward seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to work. Paradoxically, these natural reflexes inhibit the quality of your professional output. And when you do make small attempts to change, like leaving the office on time, you experience withdrawal symptoms, which send you scurrying back to your familiar habit patterns. Fortunately, there is hope. You can rediscover a life of harmonious passion by intentionally changing your behavior and by replacing harmful thought patterns with helpful ones. To help you with this process, I've disclosed the thoughts I most commonly see coursing through people's minds when they feel stuck in a state of obsessive passion and offered suggestions on how to modify them. Flawed Evaluation of Worth Harmful Helpful I am important and of value because of what I achieve, produce or have. Therefore if I stop achieving, producing or having, my life no longer has value, meaning or purpose. I am of value because of who I am, not what I do. I am a unique individual whose life has a special purpose regardless of what I earn, accomplish or own. Perfect is the only option. Less than perfect is failure. Perfection is an ideal abstraction created by my mind that can not exist in the reality of an imperfect physical world. I can choose to adapt my evaluation methods so that less-than-perfect is still seen as a success. I am only as good as my last _____________. If I stop or rest or don't perform to the same or better level in the future, I will lose everything. Every life experience offers an opportunity for growth. Each day, I can do my best, correct my mistakes, and learn for the next time I meet a similar challenge. My past provides a secure foundation for my future. Sense of Over-Responsibility Harmful Helpful If everything doesn't go according to plan and make everyone happy, it's my fault. I should have planned more, done more, been more. Activities rarely go exactly according to plan and often times, no possible scenario could make everyone happy. I take responsibility for the areas within my control but release responsibility for those outside of my control, including unforeseen circumstances and others' emotional responses. I can only rest without guilt once all the work is done. If I stop any sooner, I am lazy, selfish and irresponsible. There will always be more work to do. By choosing to rest at reasonable intervals, I increase my productivity, accomplish more, enjoy life and stop feeling resentful toward others who take breaks. My needs are the lowest priority. I will only get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and do activities I enjoy once everyone else has their needs — and most of their wants — met. It's good for me to be considerate of others' needs, but I also have a legitimate need for proper self-care. When I take time to nurture my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, I have a greater capacity to truly connect with and support others. Insecurity in Relationships Harmful Helpful Everyone is watching and evaluating me. If I don't appear to meet their standards for outward success, they will think badly of me. I can choose to not allow my perception of other people's opinions of me dictate my opinion of myself. I am free to live as I please and make the choices that are right for me. I'm bad at forming and maintaining relationships. I can never make my friends and family happy so why should I try to have a life outside of work? It may not be easy for me at first, but I can learn how to form and maintain better relationships. I may not always meet everyone's expectations, but I have a better chance of success when I make a good effort. I feel in control at work because certain actions predictably produce specific results. It's too much of a risk to venture into areas where I don't always know what to do, and I can't count on other people's response to my actions. I can choose to stay in a place of security and isolation, or I can choose to open my life up to others. I may experience some loss of control, but ultimately I create the possibility of great joy in true relationship with others. If you think you might have fallen into the trap of obsessive passion, go through this list and ask yourself: Do I agree with any of the harmful thought patterns? If the answer is "yes," you can incorporate more helpful thought patterns into your life through these types of activities: Writing down your thoughts in a journal and then revising your harmful thoughts into helpful ones. Keeping a list of helpful thoughts on the wall of your workspace Meditating on the helpful thoughts by repeating them aloud (or silently if you're in a cube) If you have been able to free yourself to achieve without becoming relentlessly driven, let us know how you succeeded in the comments. Have you noticed a difference in yourself or your work when you operated from a state of harmonious versus obsessive passion?