There is have a trend that I see when coaching clients, and that is the belief that they are not a good person, that they have good managerial skills, or that they can achieve the very things they say they want. They don’t have self-efficacy, which is the fundamental belief that you can.
It breaks my heart when I see someone who has wonderful traits and skills but they don’t see it themselves. Some look for external validation from others to ‘let’ them know they are a good person. While others, even if hearing good comments, dismiss them – they don’t believe them.
Why does this occur? Somewhere along the way of growing up, there was an event where a comment was made that seemed critical; we also often compare ourselves to others, seeing their achievements greater than ours. Over time, these thoughts get reinforced as we ruminate over them, which then become our beliefs – ‘it must be true.’ These beliefs lead to our future thoughts and actions, which then lead to frustration and, eventually, declining emotional health.
But the good news is, you don’t have to stay in this state. Although difficult to master, it is doable to rewire brain patters and change negative thoughts to positives:
- Be aware when negative, self-deprecating thoughts arise – only in self-awareness can you do something about them. When do you hold yourself back, say from speaking up or taking action on something you want; when do you negate a compliment someone gives you – these are negatives arising. A great way to be more self-aware is to mark off on a piece of paper every time you have a negative or self-critical thought (you’ll get tired soon)
- STOP – you need to find a way to not allow negative thoughts to continue once aware; it will take some training but silently (or loudly) saying STOP, is one way to alter them; another is to put a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when negatives arise
- Replace- you must replace a negative thought with a positive; it’s not enough to just stop them. Mark Waldman, a neuroscience expert, says we need three positive thoughts to override one negative; reframe the negatives to a more motivating, positive one (“I have skills and abilities that make my work more appealing)
- Affirm – document daily your achievements, any compliments you’ve heard, or acts of kindness someone shows you (let’s you out in traffic or holds the door open for you); these will validate your skills and strengths and ‘show’ you the totality of you
Doing these steps daily will soon have you believing in yourself, which will lead to taking more risks and bolder actions. Soon, you’ll have more confidence to do anything you say you want. To paraphrase, “walk boldly in the direction of your dreams.”