In Part 1 of this series, I introduced four “mental hijackers” that undermine our efficacy as leaders. The second blog examined two of those hijackers- worry and regret- and how to overcome them. Now let’s look more closely at the other two mental hijackers – resentment and resignation.

Both of these hijackers tend to show up when things don’t go as expected or desired. Resentment shows up as anger, jealousy, and blame. Resignation convinces us to give up and take a loss. Here’s how to recognize when resentment and resignation are in the driver’s seat.

Hyper-focus: Displeasure about an inequity, injury, or disappointment
Dominant Moods: Anger, envy, irritation
Mental Headline: That was not fair.
Core Deception: Things are always supposed to be fair and go as I expect.

Hyper-focus: Conceding defeat before the fact
Dominant Mood: Hopelessness, despair
Mental Headline: It’s no use trying.
Core Deception: There is nothing to be done.

The field of Learned Optimism provides us with some useful ways to subdue these hijackers. To apply learned optimism first, learn more about your predisposition to get caught up in pessimism and defeatism by taking this online self-assessment offered by Stanford University. Once you understand your predisposition for pessimism you can use the ABCDE approach developed by Martin Seligman, a pioneer in learned optimism, to stop resentment or resignation from taking you out of present moment.

A – Adverse Event: Learn to objectively describe what is happening without imposing an interpretation or judgment on it. (e.g., I was to lead the project)

B – Beliefs: Learn to “hear” your interpretations and beliefs about these events (e.g., The deck was stacked against me)

C – Consequences: Notice the consequences of those beliefs relative to your mood, motivation, attitude. Write them down (e.g., despair, hopelessness, envy).

D – Dispute or Distract: Find reasonable alternative explanations to dispute your belief and/or distract yourself (e.g., It’s possible I was a strong contender but there were better candidates)

E – Energy: Notice what happens to your energy and will to act in the present when you dispute negative beliefs.

Mental hijackers distort our perspective and cause us to lose focus in the present moment. As leaders they weaken our capacity to be purposeful and tap into our own agency. What ways have you found to be useful in subduing the hijackers of resentment and resignation?

Photo Credit: Nicki Dugan Pogue