On any given day, how much time would you say you spend thinking about the past?
When I paid attention to this question for a couple of days the answer I got seemed like a reasonable snapshot of where my mind was going on an average day.
It was going backwards.
In any normal everyday hour, my mind would be thinking about something that happened (or didn’t happen) sometime before and that could include primary school.
The good news for anyone recognising themselves here is that, in my experience, dealing with negative, recurring flashbacks can be a good jumping off point for 1:1 Coaching.
For one thing you will see how Coaching works.
For another, you are likely to get a good outcome personally.
So what holds us back?
When I began to examine how I had got into a rut of negative self-criticism, at the top of the list was low self-esteem which showed itself in a constant self-narrative of anger and remorse and a generally negative outlook on life.
(Well, I would, wouldn’t I?)
Eventually though, I had to admit that I wasn’t born that way.
Something had happened and when I looked for it during my Coaching sessions, things came up which explained a lot…some were inherited, some were cultural but most importantly, none of them started with me. They weren’t my fault.
It was how I reacted to them and tried to deal with them that sent me off track and a 10 year old can’t be blamed for that
Sadly (it is sad), when life isn’t clicking along and we’re left to our own devices to try to cope with that, it’s possible that we won’t always come up with helpful solutions…
…how could we when everything seems to be going well for everyone else but not for us?
Not until we reach early adulthood is there a chance to finally get a break by getting scooped up and thrown onto dry land by the discovery of a hidden talent or an obscure interest.
For many, this is a ‘Happy Ever After’ moment which is taken with both hands and exploited eagerly as one good break turns into another.
But not everyone can get free of those self-doubts. Surely, someone is going to find out the truth!
‘Imposter Syndrome’ is one manifestation of the hangover from a low level of self esteem. It gets a lot of media attention and is, to put it mildly, difficult to get free of .
But whilst not understating the crippling,
overwhelmingly fear-inducing affects experienced by victims of Imposter Syndrome, there are other harmful and even life threatening levels of behaviour further down the scale to which victims of self doubt and self criticism will resort to find escape and comfort which, in turn, impact our performance negatively at work.
Self Compassion seems to be an answer.
I wrote about this on LinkedIn in January quoting psychologist Sara Dunne saying that ‘people who have high levels of Self Compassion are generally more proactive and by treating themselves kindly, will recognise what is best for them’
It follows that people who are not being compassionate to themselves by being self critical for example, may be underachieving.
Separately, another Psychologist, Kristin Neff, found that while we can’t eliminate the stresses and strains which are part of everyday life at work, we can at least change the way we view ourselves, giving us the resilience to face challenges head on.
Practicing Self Compassion can create a helpful self-talk that we will actually listen to and act on to change that self- defeating mind set and discover our Authentic Self.
In my experience, Coaching is a no-nonsense way to approach it.