How Mindfulness Can Quieten The Fear Within (And See You Succeed In The Workplace)
Written by Rachel Watkins
Our inner voice can be a real pain sometimes! Telling us what we can’t do, listing all the possible things that could (and probably will) go wrong and forever being our harshest critic. If you look at the roads not taken in life nine times out of ten it was fear that was holding us back. Correction, fear made scarier, bigger and heard a hundred times more loudly because of our inner voice. It’s time we all learn to reduce our fear and quieten the inner critic within!
What Actually Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of living which allows us to step back and be present in any situation. By focussing our awareness on the present moment we are able to calmly acknowledge and accept our thoughts and feelings which provides us with greater clarity and inner peace.
The Science Behind Mindfulness
Scientists have used MRI scans to see how the brain changes when people practice mindfulness. Amazingly areas of the brain shrink or grow in response to regular mindfulness practice. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for our fight or flight response. Activation in this area is linked to heightened fear, stress and frustration. So when you are thinking of changing jobs, applying for a promotion, facing an impending deadline or dealing with a mistake at work your amygdala is not only activated but aggravated like a raging Godzilla! By practising mindfulness your amygdala actually shrinks and with it so does the intensity and frequency of your fear and stress.
Research has also shown that the prefrontal cortex can become thicker from practising mindfulness. Don't worry this is actually a good thing! Your prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain responsible for organising, planning, problem-solving, and controlling your emotions. I think you would agree are all highly valued skills within the workplace! Mindfulness has also been proved to grow the part of our brain associated with empathy and compassion. This means we are better able to focus on and offer empathy and compassion to ourselves and others. Don’t dismiss the importance of this. When your inner voice rears its ugly head you need to recognise that you’re struggling and respond with kindness, acceptance and positive self-talk. Try this ‘STOP’ technique to get you started:
Take three deep breaths.
Observe the moment, notice how your body feels, what emotions you’re feeling, consider what may have triggered you and focus on the thoughts at the forefront of your mind.
Proceed by asking yourself; what’s most important for me to pay attention to right now? What is within my control?
As the saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway! The biggest regrets we have in life are the opportunities not taken. By building your daily mindfulness practise you will not only quieten your inner voice, who is determined to use your fear against you, but also develop the key strengths needed to succeed in the ever-changing workplace!