Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Do you sabotage yourself?

OK. Interesting piece made it through the spam filters today. All it said was "Good Morning, Barbara. Get rid of that self-esteem once and for all." No mention of any magic pills or the size of any body parts I don't have, no offer of a loan, no request for help recovering a family fortune in Nigeria...

It was interesting but a little creepy, because who hasn't struggled with self-esteem at some point?
It can be hard to acquire and hard to maintain. How is it that a spam generator came up with that one? To inspire me to blog more regularly? Anyway...

Along with many lawyers, my 9 year-old daughter shares the "perfect" problem. As someone once said, "perfect gets in the way of good". Hanna's self-esteem is generally pretty high, but last week she was struggling with a special project. She had to write and draw- and she couldn't get her drawing of a soccer team "right". She got very frustrated, said she couldn't draw at all, she was terrible, and on and on. Hanna was tired, so everything was exaggerated.

Every now and then my coaching training comes in handy at home. Perhaps the technique I tried with Hanna will be helpful for you sometime. It's classic and might just remind you of something you already know. When your miserable inner critic shows up to berate and discourage you, ask yourself:
  • Is that true?
  • How do I know it's true?
  • Does this way of thinking help me?
  • What's another way to look at this?
  • Hanna, are you really a terrible artist?
  • How do you know? (You don't really create much art, but what about the portrait and piece of pottery that you made this summer?)
  • What if you thought about it like this, "I'm a great soccer player because I practice a lot. I don't practice drawing at all and this drawing is fine. If I want to get better, I can practice"? 
(If this doesn't resonate, substitute your name for "Hanna" and "marketer" or "manager" for "drawing"...get it?)

Self-talk is incredibly important. You might never get rid of your inner critic, but you can learn to recognize the thoughts more quicky and dismiss them before you waste any time. Tell Joe Inner Critic that you heard him, you're not listening and to shut up!

A classic resource for positive self-talk is a little book by Rick Carson, called Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way. There are other authors that might appeal to you, go to Amazon and search for "self-talk".

Treat your self-confidence like an asset; protect it and help it grow. The return will be exponential. Of that, I am completely confident!