This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 10px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
Ordinary People Taking Action
Back to Blog
I’ve spent a lot of time coaching lately and the same topic keeps surfacing – negative self-talk. The root of this self-talk is our often-present inner critic. The one that says we aren’t good enough. Not strong enough. Not smart enough. Not prepared enough. You get the picture. This message in our heads is loud and persistent. When I am talking with people and the negative self-talk is present, the “enough” thoughts are daunting. Self-confidence takes a huge hit. Put this on repeat and it’s a formula for disaster.
When I am coaching, I often refer to the iceberg coaching model. If you aren’t familiar with it, a quick internet search will bring up a picture of an iceberg. As with any iceberg, 90% of it is below the water and only 10% is above. Our judgement of an iceberg’s size, beauty, strength, and potential ability to do harm is based on what we see on the top of the water – that 10%.
When it comes to our behaviors and actions, the 10% “above water” is all that other people see. What they don’t see is the 90% – our inner thoughts, our self-talk, our insecurities and our securities. When coaching, I often spend my time helping people create a consciousness of that 90% so that we can purposely choose how the outer 10% of us is seen. We talk a lot about intention. Our intent is our motive or agenda, and the behavior is what follows.
When we look at our inner 90% in correlation with the iceberg, the bottom of the iceberg is our life story. All the highs and lows of our life that have gradually formed our unique story. It’s a worthwhile exercise to write (or draw) your life story. Think of the highs and the lows that have made you, you.
Reflect on your story and look for patterns. What are the patterns when you feel most at your best and what are the patterns when you feel not at your best? Understanding your patterns is the first step in understanding your inner self-talk. As you begin to understand the patterns of your life, you’ll start to notice if they are repeating themselves.
Understanding your life story will help you think about your needs. If you’ve heard of Maslow’s work, you might be familiar with three basic needs: Safety & Security, Love & Belonging, and Self-Esteem. There are some who think Maslow’s work is too basic, that the need of Collaboration & Connection is missing. Whatever you do or don’t believe about Maslow, my point is a simple one. We all have basic needs – and what some refer to as the need for self-esteem, I would like to reframe as the need for confidence. When our self-esteem is challenged and the negative self-talk starts, our confidence wains. When our confidence starts to shake, we question our safety and security. This then impacts our feeling of being loved and belonging, or vice versa. I believe when self-esteem is negatively impacted, our confidence is, too, and then our world starts to crumble. But not all at once – quite the opposite. The pieces are so tiny and they crumble so slowly, we don’t even realize they are falling apart.
Before Rebecca met with me, she shared that she was scared to death – literally scared to death – to meet with me. She had an image that working with a coach was going to bring up her deepest darkest secrets and make her feel less than she already feels. After I reminded her several times that meeting with me is a choice – and she can always say no – she proceeded with our scheduled appointment. It didn’t take long for Rebecca to open up to me about every little thing that she had ever done wrong. If anyone had negative feedback about her performance, it was Rebecca herself. Her self-talk, especially her negative self-talk, was loud inside her head. This negative self-talk chipped away minute-by-minute, every day, at her confidence. She told me multiple times that she doesn’t even know how she got into her role – which, by the way, is a VP of a very large Seattle-based company.
Rebecca’s story isn’t any different than many other people I meet with. To the people that truly believe they aren’t “enough”, I offer this:
When our negative self-talk is stating so loudly that we aren’t “enough”, it breaks away at our self-confidence and over time we will actually believe it. This belief will cause negative thoughts and feelings, and we will look for things in our life to reinforce these negative thoughts and feelings. All this inner “stuff” – the 90% – affects how we behave.
Rebecca shared with me that she truly believes that her voice doesn’t belong in meetings. In fact, she told me stories of her childhood when her voice wasn’t welcomed, and her mother told her not to talk when company was over. Rebecca’s childhood was spent with her being told to be quiet, look cute and smile – never making a sound. Rebecca shared with me that when she walks into executive meetings, she always takes the seat farthest away from the board chair. She even shared with me she often catches herself slumping and not standing up straight or sitting tall in her chair. She said, “I look for ways to disappear, to hide, in meetings.”
My response, “What would the executive meeting gain if you sat in the middle of the table, sat up straight and shared your perspective? What if …. what are the possibilities … what impact can you make that you’re choosing not to make now?”
Remember, you are the tool. If you’re broken, you are useless to others – at work or at home. How can you purposefully think about your inner voice so that your positive impact can be recognized?