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Positive thinking during your Work Search: It’s not delusional optimism

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used in place of professional advice, treatment, or care in any way. Lawyers, law students, judges, and other legal professionals in Massachusetts can find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential appointment with a licensed clinician here.

In the midst of searching for a job, it is an all-to-common experience to feel discouraged and pessimistic about your chances for success. Given the job market, the number of applicants, the specific requirements of each position, and the experience of rejections from potential employers, it is easy to focus on the immediate evidence that points to a negative outcome. You apply for jobs and go on interviews, you wait to hear a response from the potential employer, and you get disappointed when you hear nothing or an outright rejection. If this happens more than once, we start seeing it as a pattern and the old adage of “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” starts to suggest that rejection will be the future as well. When this happens, we start to expect rejection or failure. When our expectation is set, it is human nature to look for evidence in our lives that support our expectations. If we expect to ultimately fail, we look for evidence that suggests we will fail.

However, the opposite is also true. If we expect to succeed, we will look for evidence to support that expectation. When we operate on the assumption that we will ultimately succeed, we can interpret experiences of rejection or failure as hurdles along the way to success, as opposed to interpreting them as evidence that failure is inevitable.

Tips of positive thinking:

  1. Establish a positive future goal for yourself.
  2. Look for evidence that supports that positive expectation.
  3. Document your progress so that you have a track record of success to look back on (especially helpful when trying to see rejections as a bump along the road)
  4. Don’t give up on your goal.


Shawn Healy, PhD



CATEGORIES: Career & Practice Concerns | Uncategorized

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