Today I want to shine a light on how you can create new ways of thinking and acting that will serve you well.
As you travel down the road of life with the goal of continuing to add to your successes, you (like all of us!) will always need to continue the inner work of developing a solid bedrock of self-esteem. As you become more aware of your intrinsic value and worth, new attitudes and behaviors will begin to emerge that are worthy of recognition and celebration!
You may recognize that you really do have strong feelings or opinions about things. You may recognize that you feel more capable and more positive about yourself. You may feel that you want to be seen and heard more; that you no longer feel content to stay hidden in the shadows, or that you really can share the spotlight with others. Trust those instincts, because they are reflections of your most authentic self…and be willing to go to battle for them.
For here’s where the first challenge emerges: your own thoughts will fight you! Yes, unfortunately it is you, yourself who provides fodder for the first roadblocks that come up, because as creatures of habit we do what feels easiest and least confronting, even if it isn’t the best or most productive course of action for our lives.
Let’s say, for example, that you make a decision to begin speaking up for yourself after years of “just going along to keep the peace.” Can you feel your inner turmoil? What are the next questions or beliefs that immediately pop into your head? They may run along the lines of:
- What am I doing? Everyone will be mad at me!
- Is this really the “right” thing for me to do?
- What if they reject me, or laugh at me?
- What if this isn’t really me? What if I’m really supposed to just go along?
Or what if you realize that in the past you have been demanding and rigid, and now you want to make room for other people’s needs and feelings? Maybe the next thoughts that come up will sound something like these:
- Now I’ll seem like a wimp!
- No one will respect me.
- They’ll think I’ve gone soft!
- What if I do that and no one takes me seriously any more?
Do these questions and thoughts sound familiar? For now, just thank those thoughts for sharing their concerns with you, and write them down. Don’t worry about solving them or justifying your decision at this point, just notice what these fears and objections are.
Another thing to notice is that your new positive feelings about yourself may be very subtle at first. They may start as just an inner tingle in the pit of your stomach, or as a fleeting thought flitting through your mind. Welcome and encourage them, and they will grow in number and in strength. Wherever you notice these shifts, and whatever strength they have in the moment you become aware of them, they provide the opportunity to turn your awareness into actions that demonstrate your true worth.
While thinking and feeling by themselves won’t move you forward, they light the all-important fuse. Next you need to make sure to connect that fuse to the end result you want, and to each new behavior that will get you that result.
What will you attach your fuse to? If you’re not sure yet, just ask yourself: “What is my desired outcome?” What actions and behaviors would be most likely to move me toward that outcome?” Come up with a number of options and write them down so you can refer back to them later, and then start acting on them right away!
As you translate each new awareness into action and start to feel better about yourself, you will begin to see even more new possibilities for your work, your relationships, and your life. Keep those possibilities uppermost in your mind, as they are the motivation for new behaviors. This is also where remembering to take deep breaths is essential, because you are going to be challenging – head on – decades-old habits and beliefs that have kept you stuck.
First and foremost you have to STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! Then THINK: What is your desired outcome? In order to engage in and truly maintain any new behavior, you must have clarity of purpose. Without this clarity it is almost certain you will slip back into old habits, because they require no thought or effort. That’s what makes them habits. A new behavior needs your attention, focused energy, and your belief that engaging in this new behavior is for your greater good.
Stay tuned next week as I’ll be sharing with you a process for dealing with the gremlins of other people’s reactions to the positive changes you’re making – just in time for the holiday family reunions!