Many years ago I was attending a self-development seminar and the facilitator asked us to get out a pen and paper for an exercise. He told us to write down all the things we had accomplished and were proud of. Seems like a simple exercise, except when it was time to start writing I froze. I was searching and searching my brain to come up with anything I could think of. Nothing came. I was 40 years old and I couldn't think of one accomplishment!? Why was this? It was because I had this faulty way of thinking, in the past, that if something didn't turn out exactly like I had hoped then it wasn't an accomplishment. Geez was I tough on myself!
An example would be not acknowledging my under graduate degree because it took me 8 years to accomplish. Another time was when I decided to head up a fundraiser for my daughter's school and chose to put on a mud run (this is an obstacle course running race with mud obstacles) as the event. In my mind I had decided that it would be a success if there were 600 people running the race because that would get the school the amount of money it needed to raise. Nearly 400 people ran the race, the feedback we got was how much fun they had and the school made money, most would consider this success. In my mind all I could think about were the 200 missing people.
Now, maybe you aren't as extreme minded as I was, but maybe you can relate at least a little? Maybe you undermine what you accomplish or down play it? Or, maybe you think that it is just a matter of time until people figure out you are not who you say you are/capable (imposter syndrome)? Maybe you can acknowledge that you have accomplished things, but it feels like what you have accomplished is never good enough? Why is that?
Learning To Toot Your Own Horn
One reason this happens is because we have an innate need to be of value and we have been taught to seek value externally, through others. It seems innocent enough to acknowledge a child for getting a good grade and scoring a goal. However, it is through this process that we learned to seek approval from others, versus from ourselves, and in turn did not develop the ability to self-validate our value. This led to not trusting in ourselves, questioning whether we know what is right for us as an individual and comparing ourselves to others to decide what is acceptable. So, now what? We get to learn as adults how to validate ourselves. One strategy that I teach clients is to stop asking other people for advice and begin to ask yourself questions like, "How do I feel about this?", "What do I think is the right answer to...?", or "What if I already know the answer to...?" Now, are you going to always make the best decisions? YES!!! You will make the best decisions based on the information that you have and in turn you will begin to believe in yourself, trust yourself. And, if it is not the right answer make another decision! The comparing ourselves to others piece is a whole different animal to be addressed another time, on another email, so stay tuned.For now, begin this exercise and through practice you will begin to learn to trust yourself and know that you have all the answers. If you are interested in understanding more about why we doubt ourselves let's schedule a time to chat. What works for you next week?
Peace, Erin "trusting myself" Mac