Maria, was one of my first coaching clients. She powered through a Multiple Subject Credentialing program, but was stuck. In order to exit the program, she needed to pass a comprehensive exam. She failed three times. To Maria, it was an embarrassing failure, and she pledged to give up--to sit along the sidelines. She hadn't taken the test in a year and a half. She would have been content with her plan except the school district, for which she worked. started sending her letters-- the latest one gave her an ultimatum--Pass the exam by the end of the school year or find other work. At this point, I was called in.
One of the chief arenas people need transformation in is in how they view themselves. Maria, after three failures, branded herself an unintelligent failure. She felt she lacked the goods to finish her program and live her dream as a well paid teacher professional.
As you do regular autopsies in areas of your life, ask yourself: "How do I describe the events that happen in everyday life? Does your description move you toward your goals or does your discourse cause you to hesitate or even abort your plans?" How you describe things that happen to you in life determines the level of your success.
Letting go in this critical category entails you observe yourself frequently. What type of people do you draw to yourself? Are you satisfied with the people who surround you? Are they supporting the best self you're building? Or are they harsh, critical or foolish? What in you seeks such people out? What do you need to change in yourself to draw better quality people? How does self-talk affect your behavior? Does it keep your motivation red hot? Or do you struggle with procrastination? Have you been immobilized by critical voices that float through your head? Do these voices stir anxiety and fear within you? What would you be doing right now if you weren't immobilized? Skiing? Pursuing a better position at work? Opening yourself up to dating? Unplugging the cord that is plugged into past messages you absorbed from childhood is well worth your time. The quality of your relationships with yourself and others depend on it.
Many people find affirmations helpful, building self-esteem through acquiring skills is powerful, but a simple practice I call, "Refuting Self-Talk with Reality" has a profound ability to train your mind and emotions to overcome those little pesky gremlins in our head.
For example, with Maria, I had her regularly writing down the self-talk that loomed as I held her accountable for behavior that would help her pass the exam. She folded the paper in half on the left side of the journal entry and wrote one time, " I'm no good. How can I be so messed up? My son and daughter are depending on me to pass this exam. Will I fail them?"
I coached her to write realistic rebuttals to those thoughts. On the right hand she wrote, "Well, the truth is, I am cooperating with Rosalind. I put together a study group with other teachers who have yet to pass. We study every week.We are REALLY sharing our strengths. I have a couple of months before the test.Around them, I feel less stupid. Actually, I feel empowered. What I'm doing is better than sitting around doing nothing."
As with all training, Maria had to regularly take out pen and paper every time she was overcome with an intense barrage of negative self-talk.
It took time.
It took persistence.
However, she was willing to give up this false assessment of herself.
On the fourth try, she aced the exam.
If this is true for her, it is true for you. Pruning your negative self-talk, emotions and image of yourself is an important way to realize the best version of yourself.