Is There a Monster in Your Head?

What do you do when that voice in your head is saying, “You aren’t good enough”?

If you try to ignore it does it just get louder and more persistent?

Psychologist Carl Jung said, “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  When my clients need to tame that mean little monster who wants them to fail, we focus first on understanding and accepting where the monster comes from.  Then we identify some possible responses to it.

A very powerful response is a short, positive mantra in the present tense that you can repeat whenever you hear the monster’s voice.  If the monster says, “You’ll look stupid in that meeting with your boss if you don’t have all the answers,” your mantra might be, “I know everything I need to know.”  That enables you to say with confidence, “I don’t know but I will find out.”

What might be different if you respond rather than resist that monster in your head?

The Art of Disagreement

If you have been to a wedding recently, you might have been asked to write a note of advice for the newlyweds.  Mine is always the same – master the art of disagreement.  Agreeing to disagree is an important skill in any relationship, personal or professional.  There are times when we need to listen to the other person’s opinion, respectfully express our own, and recognize when the discussion is not going to change anyone’s mind.

This can be a challenge for those of us who are able to use our powers of persuasion quite effectively most of the time.  It might be worth considering a different approach when:

  • The issues aren’t black or white – exploring the gray area requires seeing the other person’s perspective
  • Emotions are strong – calling a truce when things get heated can help us avoid saying things we will regret later
  • The stakes are high – instead of creating a win/lose situation, honoring both sides can help maintain the relationship

That is the secret to the art of disagreement:  focusing on the relationship instead of winning the argument.  Let’s try that for a change!

Who Defines You?

Have you ever been told, “You shouldn’t care so much what other people think”?  Caring what others think can come from wanting respect or trust, both of which are reasonable unless we let someone else decide whether we deserve them.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown says that we don’t need to stop caring about what other people think of us, but we don’t have to be defined by them.  What would you need to define yourself as someone who respects your own judgment and trusts your own instincts?

Listen to yourself first – and last.  Seeking other opinions can be valuable in thinking through your options and validating your instincts but you’re the one who has to live with your decisions.  Try keeping track of your success rate for three months and be the one to identify what defines you.

Self Knowledge is Power

English author and philosopher Francis Bacon, an advocate of inductive reasoning in science, wrote, “Knowledge is power” in 1597.  This phrase has come up with many of my clients recently in a new form: self-knowledge is power.

One of the first steps in coaching is creating awareness of strengths, motivators and stress behaviors, typically through a personality assessment and confidential feedback from colleagues.  The challenge then becomes what to do with that information.  I often tell my clients, “You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback but you can choose what to do with it.”

Knowing …

  • your strengths gives you the power to resist buying into destructive comments from an undermining co-worker.
  • what motivates you gives you the power to pursue a role that makes you look forward to work every day.
  • what triggers your stress behaviors gives you the power to stay calm and in control when your brain wants you to do the opposite.

What do you need to know in order to be your most powerful self?

Managing Survivor Guilt

It’s common in the aftermath of a traumatic event to feel relieved that we’re safe and then to feel guilty for wanting life to return to normal.

To a lesser degree, people can also suffer from survivor guilt after their colleagues are laid off.  The confusion of feeling relieved while grieving can affect productivity, morale and trust.  Team leaders who acknowledge these feelings and ask for suggestions on how to handle increased workloads can help restore equilibrium.

I invite you to be aware of and accept feelings of loss and then to make a conscious decision to follow the Parisian example and carry on.

Can’t Lose

I binge-watched Friday Night Lights this summer and wrapped up with the final episode last night.  If you haven’t seen the show, the football coach’s motto is “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”.  He starts the chant and the team finishes it before they head into every game, committed to doing their best.

As you might expect in a show set in high school, there are a lot of transitions over five seasons and 65 episodes – students graduating and leaving home, parents losing jobs and relationships ending.  The motto was a good reminder of how to handle some of the transitions I have been observing with my clients and some I am experiencing myself.

When we can get past the negatives to clearly see the positive lessons in these transitions and respond to them with hearts full of courage, then we can’t lose.