“Come to think,” he said,” I’m not sure what success looks like. And, the truth is, even if I got what I say I want, I still wouldn’t feel successful.”
“Mark” and I — OK, his name isn’t Mark for obvious reasons — have known each other for a long time.
His words that day weren’t a surprise. It was the way he looked at me that was different. He was opening the door to a conversation about something he’s always been sensitive about. “What’s going on?” I asked.
“Well,” he replied, “I’ve been working with this coach for some time now. I’m trying to grow my practice and increase my revenue. I’m working really hard to do what she asks me to do, but when I sit down and think of the details, I keep coming to the same conclusion. I can’t raise my fees that much. It’s not realistic and it’s not going to work for me.”
He went on, “I’ve subscribed to all these marketing experts’ newsletters. I read the testimonials on their websites. They all seem to be so successful and they all say the same thing. Yet, here I am, a veteran practitioner and I just can’t do it. Every time I read their emails, I get depressed. I really don’t know what to do.”
I looked at him, took a deep breath and said . . . “Unsubscribe! Do you really need to be reading that stuff if all it does is trigger your self-doubt and make you feel less than?”
“Mark” looked at me, silent for just a moment. “No, I don’t.” he said.
“Good! Go ahead and clean house. Get rid of all that undermines the way you feel about yourself. Have a heart-to-heart with yourself! Get clear on what success means to you. Work with your coach to set goals that you believe in; goals that feel realistic to you. As you meet them, you’ll stretch more. Success breeds success.”
“Mark” is a wonderful person and he’s really good at what he does. In my eyes, he’s very successful. (And I’m sure I’m not the only who thinks so.) If only he could see himself as others do.
Do you ever question your accomplishments because they don’t measure up to someone else’s (seeming) success?
It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? When we look at other people’s lives and accomplishments, all we really see, is that one dimension that may or may not be real.
We forget that we don’t really know someone by looking at what they outwardly project. Everyone has a story. And, unless we know that story, we won’t know what it feels like to be in that person’s shoes.
I wonder how useful it would be if — once in a while — we could take a peek into somebody else’s life or swap places with the person we envy. My guess is, it wouldn’t look that desirable from the inside.
Which takes us to the importance of inhabiting our life, fully!
“What do you mean?” you may ask. “That sounds a little silly . . . whose life can I inhabit but my own any way?”
If you’d asked me that, you’d be absolutely correct. It’s beyond silly to think that we can live anyone else’s life but ours, right? I knew you knew that. You’ve probably known that forever. You’ve even heard it in books your parents read to you and the books you read to your children.
“Today you’re You, that is truer than true!
There’s no one alive, that is Youer, than You! – Dr.Seuss
Yet . . . no one is immune to self-doubt and self-sabotage. These are the enemies we carry with us to the end.
The question is how can we thrive in spite of them?
We can talk about this in-depth at another time, but today, I’d like to give you an exercise you can practice, when you get stuck in the hamster wheel of self-depreciation.
Are you currently faced with a decision, a challenge, or situation that makes you doubt yourself, your abilities, or your instincts?
Come play along with me.
For this exercise you’ll need to give yourself 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time. Sit at a place that’s quiet and safe. It can be your favorite room, a cozy chair, your porch, your garden . . . anywhere you like. Take your journal and a pen with you.
For your convenience, I’ve included an audio along with written instructions.
— Sit down, make yourself comfortable, and place your hand over your heart.
— Close your eyes and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. If it helps, you can count to five on the in breath, hold, and count to five on the out breath.
— Allow your breath to return to its normal rhythm.
— Scan your body mentally. Do you feel tension anywhere?
— Breathe into the tension and with each exhalation, feel your body relax.
— Feel the soles of your feet touch the ground. Feel your sitting bones resting comfortably. Know that you’re always supported and held.
— As you continue breathing, let your mind travel back in time.
— Think of a time when you were feeling low and discouraged. It could be a time when you were feeling unwell, or you were dealing with relationship or career issues. Maybe you were trying to make a difficult decision and you felt torn. Focus on that situation.
— Witness what was going on – as if from afar. Is there anything your present self would like to say to that person in the past that could help? What did you learn about yourself while navigating that challenge?
— If you can’t think of anything, that’s OK. Take a deep breath and send love and compassion to that person you used to be.
— Now, bring your attention to the present. What is it you’re dealing with that you feel challenged by? Focus on this current situation.
— What is the problem? How does it make you feel? Are there other people involved?
— Keep breathing. Now shift your attention to the outcome. What would you like to happen? What would the ideal outcome be for you? Let your imagination go. Don’t limit yourself and don’t edit.
— When you have a clear vision of your ideal outcome, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What are some actions I could take to help my vision come alive? Where do I start?”
— Keep breathing and let the answers come to you.
— If you begin to feel frustrated or anxious, take a deep breath, and shift your focus.
— Imagine your daughter, son, or someone you love very much has come to you with this problem. This person is looking to you for help and guidance.
— What would you tell this person? What advice would you give that person you love?
— Keep breathing. Answers may come in the form of words, sentences, or images.
— When you’re ready, take another deep breath, and slowly open your eyes.
Move gently and allow your body to adjust.
Pick up your pen and journal and write down what came up for you.
How did this exercise feel?
What did you come away with?
Is there anything you can use or take action on right now?
Remember . . . “You have brain in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss
If you have any questions about the exercise or you’d like to talk it through and share what came up for you, go ahead and add your comment to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org