Have you ever noticed how there are certain trends that come into your consciousness and that make you sit up and take notice? It could be certain numbers or people that all have the same resemblance and that can make you now be more cognizant.
As one who trends, I see this frequently; in my work with clients, I can often see five in a day who all talk about the same issue or situation. One that I noticed today involved two people – within minutes of each other – who had taken on tasks they wanted to do and involved higher performance in their jobs, and who both stated “I don’t want to do this” now that it was time to step and up and move forward. To be honest, the talk I did last week and that I mentioned, had me saying a few times “I don’t want to do this.”
Obviously, there is a lot of fear going on in these individuals that seems easier than doing the task they agreed to. They have learned to cope and adapt to being ‘safe’ by not engaging in these tasks but, yet, there was a desire to move toward them. Ideas can ‘sound good’ at the time but when reality comes, the terror of all past failures comes rushing in and now create the reality to deal with: what if I fail, what if I get laughed at, what if I get rejected, etc. It’s these perceived realities in our own head that hold us back – imagining the poor outcome before it even happens.
The way to deal? Stop focusing on the poor outcome and create the positive one that will most likely happen, or that you want to happen. Do you know the outcome to occur? NO – so why focus on something that hasn’t happened yet and begin placing that focus and intention on doing your best, working off of your skills and strengths, and only allow ‘seeing’ positive actions and responses. It’s the old “feel the fear and do it anyway” mantra. A question to ask yourself if or when you get in this situation is:
Which do you want to face more: acting on your intention of which you don’t know the outcome (and having success), OR never trying and then having to face the resulting feelings that will arise (guilt, regret, shame, or the like)?
Go back and look at what you committed to and why as this will reframe your negative thoughts to become positive. If you’re going to place your focus on a thought, why not keep it on the outcome you envisioned when you originally said yes to the task at hand?
I just finished an exercise, as homework in a coaching program I’m in, and I must say it was life-changing. I am not sure why this exercise at this particular time was so effective – as I’ve done them before- but it was. Right now as I’m writing this I feel freer, happier and more focused.
The simple exercise I was homework’d with is to write yourself a letter. Easy, yes? Not so fast. The purpose is to write this as if your ‘other self’ is speaking to you about your life: your past, your present and your future; your past mistakes and how you dealt or overcame them; significant events or people who made an impact on you; your struggles and challenges; your successes. Literally, you can write what and however you want. No one is judging this (although mine was viewed by others in the program – scary) so you can talk to yourself as you will. For example, I was encouraging while pulling no punches or letting issues slide.
This type of exercise is effective as it allows you to go deep into your buried thoughts to bring those out; those that are lurking near the surface can now make sense. Those past hurts can be forgiven and put into a place we can now live with, and we can create the future we want with some safety. Through writing, which engages both sides of the brain, bringing out highlights in our life affirms and validates those experiences, particularly the positive ones. Self-esteem goes up from reading of these accomplishments so that now we want to continue to take action and move forward on goals we want to achieve. We’re not afraid to think big or take big steps to make our life as we envisioned it on the paper.
If you want to self-validate and raise your self-esteem, then I encourage you to start writing that letter to yourself; you may want to mediate a bit before, or sit in silence, as it will give you calm and the words to fly through your fingers. This is where rubber meets the road. You will feel some emotions that will feel uncomfortable but you get to write the ending – isn’t that great?
Well, here we are – 4 days away from the end of the 30-Day Challenge – how has it been for you? Further on your established goal, so that it now feels natural and easy? Progress being made? This is the time to ‘pour it on,’ as they say, and really finish strong.
For myself, I’ve kept at the writing (hopefully you’ve enjoyed them); I will admit that there were some days I struggled with the content – what would provide value. But, I pushed through and did it anyway – I just had to look a bit to find those inspirations. I found that once I did, then ideas flowed and the words came along with the feeling of accomplishment.
Right now, I’m thinking of my next challenge – it’s only 30 days after all; I made it through one challenge and can do it again. This is the mindset we need to take to calm our fear center and affirm our abilities so we can overcome any personal challenge we find standing in our way. I’ll hold off until Friday to reveal but this one will be a bit difficult for me; however, I realize that presenting myself with a challenge is the best way I can hold my self accountable and have ‘no excuses’ to not take action. I hope you are finding hte same. So push on- now it’s only 4 days to go; you got this!
One of the biggest roadblocks most of us experience, and which causes us to feel anxious or depressed – or even angry, is comparing ourselves to others. ‘I’ll never be as good as they are’ ‘They’re so much prettier than I am’ ‘The boss likes him better than me.’ Having thoughts such as this can hold you back from achieving your goals and stepping into your greatness.
I remember a story I heard a while back of a woman who was feeling very sad, unable to sometimes get out of bed to go to work; it seems the woman did not feel she was valued at work, reporting that other coworkers seemed to get all the accolades. She constantly worried about losing her job. Ultimately, she did after her performance lagged in her constant comparison and worry. She actually took herself out of the game, so to speak, by not believing in enough in herself and her value to show them to her organization.
Frankly, I see this over and over again – a business owner who is suffering as they tried an approach someone else did but was a ‘fit’ for their type of business; a job candidate who never goes after a promotion as they don’t feel ‘good’ enough; the manager who is overbearing to his workers, who he feels inadequate from some of his employees.
Feeling less than comes from comparing ourselves to others, which we learn early in life. It can start with a parent ‘encouraging their child to get all A’s in school as their sibling was able to, or we get scolded for something but then see our parents do the same thing. The typical brain response is to attribute an event to ourselves when we can’t make sense out of what we are being told, since our young brains are just learning how to process and sort information. Right and wrong are also just developing. Over time, we tend to believe these thoughts which seem to embed deep in our psyche.
We then feel inadequate, not good enough, and worry about any type of criticism. The results can include a host of emotional problems that may not be so transparent to others but leaves us dying inside. That little voice inside is always there for some, while for others it rears its ugly head during times of high stress or when confronted with situations that make us uncomfortable, such as when going for that promotion or even in our daily work-life. Cognitive dissonance comes into play as we search out for ‘evidence’ of those thoughts, so the coworker who walks past now becomes the person who doesn’t like us.
So how do you overturn these detrimental thoughts and stop the comparisons? I’m going to say that it won’t be so easy as these types of thoughts are deep in your brain and are now a habit. It’s the unlearning that will take time but there is hope – all is not lost:
- Begin by assessing your situations for when you find yourself in a comparison mode; pay attention to your feelings as those will appear before thoughts in our awareness. By paying attention to what areas you feel inadequate or not good enough, or your self-esteem drops, this will allow you to go back and reframe both mindset and actions and will feel more capable when you are faced with these emotionally trying times
- Work to resolve past hurts, as it was hurtful when you were compared to someone else, even when done in a positive manner. Parents, other family members, and even teachers – those early influencers – want to motivate and have the best intentions but may not realize the impact of their words. Take ownership for how you feel, forgive, and let go. You will feel free and so much better
- Validate yourself – you have a lot of good within, i.e. skills, interests, abilities, passions, etc. Brain research shows that for every negative thought we have, we need three positive thoughts to override it so take a cue and write down at least three positives attributes about yourself; these can include: your physical appearance; hobbies or aptitudes you have; passions you pursue; compliments others give you; actions you took to enhance someone else’s day or provide help; or when you were able to figure out or fix something on your own (a process at work, changing the oil in your car, etc.), or when you stepped outside your comfort zone and took action.
The key to unlearning and changing behaviors lies with being committed to the change and then being consistent in your new actions so that new habits will begin and then become the new habits embedded in the brain. Make a vow that this is one habit you will stop right now (the ‘next’ 30 day challenge?).
Do you ever wonder why there are some employees or managers who deal with a high level of daily stress do not burn out? Some researchers have shown that one’s political skills help them deal with stressful situations. Here are some skills that are most useful:
1. Using practical intelligence as opposed to analytical or creative intelligence
2. Being calculated and shrewd about social connections
3. Inspiring trust and confidence
4. Ability to deal with individuals who have a wide variety of backgrounds, styles, and personalities
To summarize, these skills can be learned but need focus and attention in order to adopt these behaviors. When you understand that these skills help you not to react to adverse situations in the workplace, you will be less frustrated or stressed and will feel more positive. This can equate to increased job satisfaction and involvement in your work. Do you possess these skills? Which do you use?