Enhancing Your Own Psychological Safety Exercise

To make your best contribution at work, it’s important to feel psychologically safe (i.e., free to express your thoughts without fear of embarrassment or retribution) within the groups you’re part of.

Although psychological safety technically a group dynamic—one you alone can’t control—you can contribute to the group safety by participating in a calm, confident empathetic way.

Feeling calm, confidence and empathy requires thinking of our lives and situations in empowered ways. Statements and thoughts like “I can handle this,” “I’m OK”, and “I can take care of myself” increase our confidence and decrease our worry.

This exercise helps to identify negative self-talk (which almost everyone does to some degree) and to reframe your negative thoughts in a positive way.

By going through this process regularly (daily or even multiple times a day), you can bring a calm, confident, encouraging vibe—along with your honest thoughts—to any team you’re part of.

1. Prepare.

  • Sit quietly at a table or desk. Place paper and a pencil in front of you.
  • Breathe naturally as you scan your body from head to toe, becoming aware of feelings and tension.
  • Draw three columns on the paper in front of you. Label them ThoughtsFeelings and Reframe.

2.  Observe and record your self-talk.

  • Notice thoughts as they to come into your awareness.
  • Under Thought, record each one as it comes to you.
  • Under Feelings, record each feeling associated with the thought you just wrote.
  • Once you have written them down, release any attachment you may have to each thought and your feelings about it. The most effective way to do this is to appreciate yourself for being honest about the situation and about your feelings.

 3. Reframe your self-talk.

  • Reflect on items in the first two columns without judging them.
  • In column three: Reframe, write a positive statement for each comment in the the Thought column. For example:
    Thought: I worry about being laid off.
    Feeling: Fear.
    Reframe: I am capable of good work and I trust myself to create the life I want.
  • Take your time. Notice perceptual shifts (no matter how small) that occur as you reframe each thought.

 4. Reflect.

  • Consider this exercise a gift to yourself—an opportunity to learn more about how your thoughts and feelings affect your life.
  • Focus on your sense of accomplishment as you reframe each thought.
  • Deemphasize negative messages or stories by expressing gratitude for someone or something.
  • Make a decision to reinforce positive, encouraging, reassuring self-talk through a daily practice of feeling and expressing  gratitude.

With consistent practice, you will become skilled at reframing negative self-talk. Remember, we don’t need things to be a certain way to be happy. Knowing we are capable of dealing with uncertainty helps us accept the way things are.

No mentally healthy person is able to completely erase negative thoughts, but the more you use this practice, the more quickly you can regain calm and confidence when worries arise.