So many of the things we do in life have been equated to being on a journey that it’s become almost too predictable. We see talk on reality TV shows about people’s “journey” from where they’ve come from to where they are now or even where they’re predicted to be in the future. And so it’s something which people are almost too used to hearing now, and perhaps because of that they don’t think like that any more. Except that defining and achieving our goals are very much like a journey, because while we can plan it, travel can in fact still be unpredictable, and can throw obstacles in our path. And as much as being on a delayed train or a bus can leave us feeling deflated and frustrated, so failing to achieve our goals on the targets we set for them can leave us feeling deflated and even as if we’ve failed. Except it’s not failure, it’s deferred success, just as long as we don’t give up when things don’t quite go according to plan. Imagine you have a journey planned. You’re going to go out somewhere, the objective of your journey is to reach a place, perhaps to see someone, perhaps to go for a meal, perhaps just to go sight-seeing. You know the route you need to take to get there, you’ll be going on public transport, a bus from home to the train station, followed by a train, then another bus or perhaps an underground train, and a walk at the other end. So you set off from home to catch the bus to the station. You get on the bus, and at the stop before the station the driver announces that the next stop is closed, so you have to get off the train a stop early and walk to the station. This extends your trip by ten minutes, and as you walk on to the platform, the train you were hoping to catch is just leaving. Now you have to wait another fifteen minutes for the next train. The next train arrives and you’re finally on your way, until just outside the station the train stops and the train manager announces that due to a signal failure you will be delayed for an unspecified amount of time. You’re now becoming impatient. You’d planned to be somewhere, you are meeting someone, and you already know what you’re going to do when you get there. But at the moment it doesn’t look like you’re actually going to get there, and you have no idea what to do about it. Perhaps you should just give up and go home, but then you won’t get to do what you had planned, and after all, you’ve been looking forward to this for ages. Besides, you’re sitting outside the station, you’re not in a position to go anywhere right now anyway. After what seems like hours the train finally starts moving again and you pull into the station. You quickly get off and run down to the underground where you realise that the line you meant to take is actually closed. Another obstacle preventing you from getting where you’re planning to go, and the frustration increases. You quickly check for an alternative route, and although it will take you slightly out of your way, you get on a different underground train and change at a different station, and eventually you reach your destination. Just a short walk now and you’ll be there. Your destination is in sight as you walk out of the underground station, and so is the group of protesters and the police roadblock which is blocking the way. How did this happen? How have you managed to get this close and still you can’t get to where you want to be. You can see it, and yet you can’t get to it. It would be so easy just to turn around now and get back on the underground train and go home. You could come here another time after all. But you know you probably won’t. So you wait it out for a bit until the protesters are moved on their way and you can finally walk to your destination. And as you walk through the doors you realise that even though the journey wasn’t smooth, the end result was that you’re now where you wanted to be all along and you can begin to enjoy the experience. Having a goal can be just like that. When we set our goals we generally know what it is we need to change or do to achieve those goals, and generally we know what obstacles we need to overcome and we try to find a way to overcome them. But sometimes unforeseen obstacles come up, and those can seem like they’re barriers to achieving our goals. They’re not, they may be temporary obstacles, but the key is to find a way to overcome them, or to wait until they have passed, and then we can continue down the road of achieving the goal, the end result. If you set a timescale to achieve your goal and you haven’t achieved it by then that doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you haven’t succeeded yet. Once you start out on your journey to achieve your goal every step gets you a step closer to achieving it. And the closer you get to achieving it the less worthwhile it would be to give up and go back. What are the obstacles to your goals and how can you overcome them? And how can you find ways around the unforeseen obstacles which may come into the equation from time to time? Continue reading
Often we talk about how the negative reactions and criticisms of others can impact on our personal feelings about ourselves. When exploring the concept of limiting beliefs it’s very easy to see how someone else’s negative perceptions and comments can make us feel negatively about ourselves. After all, if someone tells you that you’re not good enough, then they must surely believe that you’re not good enough, so there must be an element of truth in that, and therefore you might start to believe it.
Except that’s not the case. Because people are individuals, what they think or feel about other individuals is largely down to their own personal opinions and beliefs. Just because someone tells you you’re not good enough at something doesn’t mean that you’re not – it means that they think you’re not. But what is important is what you think.
It’s very easy to tell someone that the negative beliefs of others usually have to do with their own feelings and that as such they should be able to find a strategy to ignore those negative comments and instead focus on how they themselves feel, work on all the positives and build a positive feeling of self belief.
But there is an element of the beliefs of others which we rarely address, and that is positive belief/opinion. Because no-one really wants to see positive validation as negative, yet it has the potential to be.
We all seek positive validation from others. We all want others to tell us we’re great, that we do what we do well, that they believe in us. And of course we should take those comments as positive, just as we take the negative ones as negative.
But we should always be aware not to live by the positive comments of others, because we cannot always rely on them being there. And the more you rely on something, the harder it is to deal with it when it isn’t there.
I’ve had numerous conversations with friends about self belief and confidence, and they’ve started out from the point of saying “you’re a coach, you can tell people that they’re great and make them believe in themselves.” I even had one who told me that they wanted to be a coach because they believed that people needed telling not to be so negative about themselves.
It’s true that I could tell someone that they’re great, and of course, if I think someone is great at something then I would tell them that in my personal opinion. But I wouldn’t want them to rely on my reassurance to uphold their belief in their own abilities. The way I have explained this to friends is like this:
Someone could come to me seeking to improve their confidence. They may have limiting beliefs which may or may not be down to the opinions/comments of others. And I could tell them to ignore those beliefs, to believe in themselves, because they’re great, I believe they’re great and they must go away and remember that they have been told by me to believe the positives not the negatives. And the client goes away and holds on to the self worth I have given them. They tell themselves that because I have told them they are good at what they do that must be believed, and they believe it. Then next week they come back and I reiterate the positive things I said to/about them last week, and for the duration of our coaching relationship their self belief improves, or so it seems.
And then the coaching sessions come to an end and the client goes on their journey armed with the knowledge that they’re a new positive person because i told them so. Except next week they won’t be back to have that belief confirmed, nor the week after, or the week after that. And what happens then when the negative beliefs start to come back is that they no longer have the validation they had held on to to override their negative beliefs, and they slip back into a state of lack of self worth they were in when they came to me in the first place.
The key for me is to arm people with the tools to validate their own self worth rather than relying on others to uphold it.
Being given positive comments/compliments by people is a fantastic feeling. But it is one which we cannot rely on, because there is never any guarantee that those positive influences will be around at the time we most need them.
The realisation that you are good at what you do, that you know you are a great person, that you are confident in your own abilities in spite of what other people think is very empowering. And finding the ability to recognise that in yourself is priceless. And while the positive comments from others will of course add to your positive feeling, if you already believe in yourself, when there are times those positive validations are lacking you will still be empowered by your own self worth and confidence. And when negative comments threaten your confidence, you can still hold on to the power of your realisation of self worth.
Don’t rely on others to validate your self worth, find the tools to find it in yourself.