I recently hosted a focus group for feedback on our team-based coaching program. There was a lot on the line and I felt the pressure. Like flood waters, time was slipping away and I needed some help.
One item remained on my to-do list: pick up pastries for the morning session. Yes, it was an easy task. Yes, I knew someone would be glad to assist … until it was time to identify that “someone” and make the call.
My inner voice turned negative… Who do I call? What if…? I stalled like a mule, hesitant to ask for help.
A “5-year old question”
Surrounded by so much stress and negativity, it’s easy to forget how destructive it is. Tony Teegarden reminded me to use this great question: What would you say to a five-year old? You would never say, “You’re stupid.” or “You screwed up again.” or “You’ll never get it right.”
But that’s what you tell yourself.
You’re valuable. You’re vulnerable. Ask yourself questions with the tenderness you’d give a five-year old. You’ve let negative thinking rule your mind for far too long.
The freedom of truth
Negative thinking is a magician. It uses illusion to direct your attention to something that appears real, but isn’t. The more pressure you feel, the more you want to control the outcome. The more you try to control the outcome, the more vulnerable you are to unsupportive self-talk.
The only way to be free is to seek the truth. In order to seek truth, you must create space. Creating space demands that we take control of the pace so there is time to think clearly. The more space you create, the more freedom from negative thoughts you enjoy.
How to create space…
Your inner voice needs some discipline training, and renewal if it is to be supportive. Practicing these steps will take time. But they will help you challenge and change the negative messaging of your inner voice.
- Pause and breathe; When feeling stressed, deep breathing helps you gain composure, self-control
- Ask questions such as: Why am I afraid? What am I thinking and why? What’s going on here?
- Challenge your beliefs: What am I accepting as true? Is it true? What are my assumptions? Where could I be wrong?
- Edit the story: What’s the worst thing that could happen if…? What do I hope will happen? What do I need to do for that to happen?
Could you stop by Panera?
Back to my story … I recognized my negative pattern by asking my five-year old, “Who could you ask to help? How will you get in touch with them?” I slowed down. I breathed. I changed my self-talk from a worrisome: “Who do I call? What if…?”, and identified Melanie as one willing to help out. I sent my request. About 30 minutes later she responded: “Panera is not on my way, but if you need something I don’t mind stopping.”
Ahhh. Help on the way. Negativity made my problem so complicated when the answer was simple: ask for help. How is your inner voice holding you back from taking that simple action?
Here’s to your positive self-talk and next level,