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5 Strategies to Change Negative Beliefs About Your Job or Career

“To build self-esteem, you have to outface your negative beliefs about yourself and change them.” ― Asmaa Dokmak Click To Tweet

For some people a job is something to get through to pay the bills, or what is referred as a necessary evil. For others, it is a vocation, a calling, or something that gives a sense of purpose to each day of the week. It may take a lifetime to find the right job or career, and it is often the product of developing the necessary skills, acquiring specific knowledge, being dedicated to the company, demonstrating a sense of commitment, and for some, perhaps there is good luck involved, or being at the right place at the right time.

While there are many reasons why a person can succeed or fail in finding a good job or career, there is another factor that can have a significant influence on how a career evolves, and that is the beliefs a person holds about their abilities and capabilities. All it takes is one persistent negative belief, held and maintained for an extended period of time, when someone begins to question their ability to perform well, they sell their talents short, or allow the derogatory self-talk to continue, and this will manifest further in lost opportunities and progress.

It is understandable there are certain circumstances on the job which can create a negative frame of mind that eventually interrupts the best of intentions. But when a negative disposition is allowed to continue and left unchecked, especially when it is related to a person’s self-view, eventually there will be a critical breaking point when something has to give or be changed. If the self-beliefs aren’t called into question, most likely it will be the job that will suffer.

A negative belief is the most toxic of all beliefs due to the potential damage it can cause to a person’s well-being and overall career potential, and it is also the most challenging to change until there is a conscious effort made to question and change it. Self-beliefs also require more than affirmations to bring about change. There may be other strategies needed to bring about a positive frame of mind, in order to help find a new way of viewing the best within a person.

Do You Know How You Develop Your Beliefs?

Early Development: Your beliefs began early in your life and what you believe, along with what you were been taught to believe, shaped your worldview and the lens through which you observe life and understand events. Each belief is established through a pattern of thinking, behaving, and reacting to your external environment. You were possibly influenced to believe certain ideas about the world and life by your parents, religious institutions, and even the school you attended.

negative beliefsLater Development: The beliefs that are developed and held about your job skills, along with the ability to learn and adapt to a work environment, are also formed early in your career as a product of the results perceived from the attempts made to complete required job tasks. As you make attempts to perform tasks, you develop beliefs about yourself, along with your capability and capacity to perform those tasks. Later as you acquire knowledge and skills, you may change or alter those beliefs.

Your beliefs are practiced patterns of thoughts and it is natural to use outcomes and situations as evidence to support maintaining those beliefs. It is not a natural process to question the long held beliefs that have become deeply engrained thought processes, until those beliefs are challenged for some conscious reason.

Can You Just Eliminate Negative Beliefs?

What you’ll find among many motivational articles is the idea of becoming and remaining happy no matter what the circumstances may be, and maintaining this positive disposition at all times. This type of mindset is not realistic for most people to sustain for long given the nature of many jobs, the demands of a busy workday, or the need to balance numerous responsibilities throughout the week.
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It is also not possible to maintain a happy-go-lucky state each day, ignoring situations you are involved in at work. However, it is possible for you to prevent challenging circumstances that come up from derailing the positive beliefs you have already developed. What is helpful is to recognize when negative emotions are experienced, so you can address those emotions head-on, rather than ignore those emotions and pretend all is well.

How Do You Address Being Fearful?

Feeling anything described as fearful can almost stop a person in their tracks. Becoming afraid occurs when there is a situation a person believes they are not equipped or skilled to address, when the rewards associated with a risk do not seem worthwhile, or taking a chance and performing a new skill or task seems too difficult. For some people it creates a fight or flight feeling that can take a physical or mental toll.

This can change or negate positive beliefs held and create negativity, especially for people who remember challenges rather than their accomplishments. Fearful self-talk usually starts with something like “I cannot do… “, “I’m afraid to try… “, “I’m not sure I know how to… “, “I’m not certain I can learn… ” or similar statements. It is a fear of the unknown which can create doubt and anxiety, whether the statements made are based upon a valid or invalid premise. The more fear is accepted as real and uncontrollable, the more the positive beliefs are minimized.

5 Strategies to Change Negative Beliefs About Your Job or Career

Now is the time to evaluate the dominate thoughts you are thinking about your job or career abilities.

What do you believe about your ability to perform the required tasks for your job?

What do you believe about your future capability in your present career?

Pay attention to the words you use and how you describe yourself.

If you find you have negative beliefs you can use the following strategies to challenge and replace those beliefs.

#1. Decide You Are Your Number One Supporter:There is an expression people often use to describe how they view their life and it is about being their own worst critic. This is a common perspective when self-worth is measured according to goals being met or not met, especially when labelled as personal or professional failures.

To become your number one supporter, begin to focus on your accomplishments no matter how minor they may seem to you. What this does is to establish a much needed pattern of thought that can lead to the development of a positive self-belief.

#2. Start by Developing One New Belief Now: What this strategy involves is more than making a positive affirmation. You can begin the development of a new belief statement with something simple, such as “I believe that… “, and add a positive perspective about a skill you have that is related to your job.

For example, “I believe that I am efficient at… and I have demonstrated an ability to… ” and fill in the blanks with something related to your job. This helps create a positive disposition and will reaffirm your capabilities and capacity.

#3. Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes:It is highly unlikely you can work through an entire career without making what anyone would perceive as a mistake of some kind. That is the nature of learning about yourself and what you are capable of doing.

What is challenging when looking back, at what has been perceived as a mistake, is whether or not a person remains stuck in the past and allows it to deter future progress. If it is framed from a perspective of failure that can create negative self-talk and lead to a belief that you cannot move past it. If you can acknowledge what has happened without blame, and determine what can be learned from it, you will change your point of view.

#4. Allow Yourself to Feel and Address Your Emotions:Are you familiar with emotional intelligence? At the heart of emotional intelligence is an awareness of how we feel and respond as a result of those feelings. Every day on the job it is possible to experience many feelings and some of those feelings may also cause an intense emotional reaction. What you don’t what to do is pretend those emotions do not exist. You must feel and address them.

The good feelings can motivate better performance and the uncomfortable feelings can produce a negative emotion that may result in a reactive response. Negative emotions can build up over time and that is why those emotions must be addressed, otherwise it is possible for positive self-beliefs to be overshadowed. When you feel the negative emotions, pay attention to what you are feeling and work through it. The goal is to come through it and retain your positive self-belief. Ask yourself: What do I need in order to address this situation in a manner that will result in a positive outcome?

#5. Pay Attention to What You Are Thinking:You have unlimited thoughts going through your mind every day. Thinking is a natural process and throughout the workday there are many thoughts that likely involve job performance to some degree.

The key to creating positive self-beliefs is to include statements into your daily self-talk that supports your progress. Here are some statements that you can use: “I am making progress… “, “I am learning… “, or “I am doing my best… ” – to serve as a reminder of your positive qualities. This helps you to look for the best in yourself and your performance, which in turn will influence what you believe about yourself.

Today is a New Day: What Are You Going to Believe?

Would you like to feel better about yourself today, and then again tomorrow? You can when you become intentional with your thoughts. An intentional thinker means you pay attention to what you think, you are not allowing circumstances and situations to change the positive beliefs you hold about yourself, and you are controlling the emotions you feel. The process of changing or replacing negative beliefs, especially those related to your professional capacity, takes time and it is in your best interest to do so, as your ongoing career development depends upon it.

The longer a person sustains negative beliefs the more challenging it becomes to feel hopeful about the future, which can create apprehension and fear. In contrast, the ability to believe in the best of yourself leads to the greater likelihood of success on the job and long-term progress in the development of a career. If you can believe in your ability to do well, along with your capacity to learn and acquire new skills, this supportive belief system will bolster how you perform and how you feel about yourself as your work. You will develop a newfound sense of perseverance, determination, and internal strength that will sustain your career.

Dr. Johnson specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA.

Dr. J’s mission is to teach, write, and inspire others. He writes blog posts, articles, and books to inform, inspire, and empower readers. To learn more about resources that are available for educators, along with career and professional development, please visit:

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