Our thoughts, beliefs, and stories are part of our internal world, and it is we who allow them to stop us from acknowledging our natural brilliance, slow our forward momentum, suspend any efforts to achieve our goals, and generally keep us stuck. If we are to overcome our insecurities, raise our self-esteem, move forward with confidence, and experience success on our terms, we must practice on the path to mastering our complex, bewildering and fascinating internal landscape rather than giving it permission to master us.
- Take Awareness Pauses
The only way to know what’s happening in our internal world is to pause and listen to its ramblings. Just the thought of this can be scary for many, which is why taking periodical pauses is so pivotal. At any given time, we can pause to check in with ourselves, ask ourselves, ‘what am I thinking, what am I feeling, and why?’ This isn’t just about your emotions, check in with your body and tap into the physical sensations linked to these feelings. Perhaps you’re washing dishes, taking a walk, watching your favorite show, solving a problem at work, preparing that presentation due on Monday morning; whatever, whenever and wherever you’re doing, it can be briefly interrupted to take an awareness pause. Schedule them throughout the day by setting a timer on your phone. Try checking in every hour to start, if this is too often, try every two or three hours, whatever feels right for you. The goal here is to expand your awareness in this space, daily and often.
- Clear the Emotional Sludge
The more aware we become of these ramblings, the more we’ll notice that many of them are not ours. We’ve simply (or not) internalized the unchallenged ramblings of others. Most often, with no intention to cause harm, they originate from those closest to us and the culture we are steeped in. Because we respect, love and trust them, we hold on to many of these ramblings. It’s one thing to allow them to run rampant in our minds and another to actually see them and have them reflected back to us so we can examine and challenge them. We must let go of who we are not to make room for and uncover who we are.
This is where stream of consciousness writing can serve as a curative tool to help clear away the emotional sludge – those ramblings that no longer or may never have served us. The goal is to write whatever thoughts bubble up – the good, the bad, the ugly, the silly, with no filters, no judgment, and no censoring. Write whatever comes up. If while writing, you think, “this is stupid” or “I don’t know what to write,” write that down. Capture EVERYTHING. Julia Cameron’s morning pages as noted in her influential book, The Artist’s Way, suggests writing three longhand pages every morning as one approach. Try it, using a notepad instead of a journal, for seven consecutive days and write for only 15 minutes each time. Set it aside, and don’t read it for at least 24 hours. If purging is your goal, don’t read your pages, simply burn or shred them soon after. There’s no right way to approach this practice, experiment with it and figure out what works best for you.
- Challenge Your Inner Critic
These messages we’re bombarded with early on about our identity, our abilities, our capabilities, our appearance, etc. surface as an inner critic that shows up as self-doubt and insecurity when we reach to achieve more. We wrestle with this inner critic throughout our lives until we, first, acknowledge that it is not part of our nature, then challenge it.
Use the power of your imagination to personify your inner critic. What might it look like? Give it a name. What kind of energy does it have, feminine or masculine? Don’t ignore it, listen to what it has to say, realize how you’re affected by its ramblings, and challenge it. Really take time to think about what you’re thinking about, your beliefs, and the stories you tell. Ask yourself if it is true and challenge it. Challenge it by replacing those thoughts with something that is true. Replace that negative self-talk with positive self-affirming talk. The goal here is NOT to artificially mask what you’re thinking, that’s a bandaid that simply won’t hold. The intention is to let go of what limits you and to practice and embrace what liberates you.
Mastering our internal world starts with awareness. Slow down to think about what we’re thinking about, examine our beliefs, and disrupt and dismantle the stories we tell that just aren’t serving us and our desire to thrive.
- Create a Confidence Booster Portfolio
Being human, it’s so easy to go dark real quick, but this isn’t our natural default. As we challenge our thoughts, beliefs, and stories, we also have to challenge our perceived experiences. This can be especially difficult since the scientific jury is still out on whether our memories are as reliable as we want them to be. This aside, there is often evidence to support much of what we have experienced, learned and accomplished. Tap into this! Many of us have copies (literal and virtual) of certifications, degrees, resumes, references, testimonials, feedback, etc. that speaks to what we’ve learned, and accomplished, and how we’ve contributed over the years. Set aside some time to look through these and as the saying goes, ‘give yourself your flowers’ for what you’ve done. Whether it is a literal folder, a digital one, or both, start building your confidence booster portfolio and peruse it a couple of times a year, especially when you’ve taken a self-esteem hit. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments and remind yourself of who you are, your values, and what you have to offer.
Ultimately, if you find yourself feeling insecure and your self-esteem is low, you’re probably placing too much emphasis on others to validate and confirm your worth. You came here worthy and valuable, and that’s your starting line. Everything else is extra. You have to think, believe and feel this. In other words, you’re going to have to change your mind.
When you’re thinking, “No one will hire me, I’m just not good enough” or “I’m too old to start over or reach this goal” or “I can’t go after that goal, that’s for people who…” or “ I’m just not as talented as…” fill in the blank with the ramblings that are specifically holding you hostage, you’re expending energy that could be reallocated to propel you up and forward.
Music is such a powerful way to express some of the challenges we grapple with in our internal worlds, and the approaches we can practice on our path to mastery. Sister Hazel sums up this topic in the lyrics of their 2000 song, Change Your Mind. “If you want to be somebody else, if you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself, if you want to be somebody else, change your mind…”Looking for additional suggestions and a little support as you practice on your path to mastering your internal world? The timing may be right to forge a coaching partnership. Sign up for a complimentary consultation today to find out.