It happens to all of us–high-ranking executives, creative entrepreneurs, leaders, managers and people on all levels of the organizational flow chart. Every individual you know has feelings about themselves that are, at times, self-defeating. It’s these feelings that create roadblocks for personal effectiveness and can keep you from achieving what you’d really like to accomplish in life both personally and professionally. What you think about, you bring about. Your thoughts can either limit you or create the results you want. They can keep you where you are or help you grow and change.
You can make responsible choices about the self-defeating feelings that are impacting your behavior. It’s a choice of recognizing the feelings, acknowledging them and working on changing them. In her book A Softer Strength, Dondi Scumaci counsels us to “Take the limits off!” Scumaci notes that, “We all have them–beliefs, even unconscious ones, that hold us back. This is a little like driving down the freeway, seventy miles an hour, with the emergency brake fully engaged. You may be getting somewhere, but you are most certainly tearing up the car. The instructions in the owner’s manual should read: ‘Locate the beliefs that limit you to release your inner brake.’”
Identifying your negative or self-limiting thoughts is the first step to changing them. Awareness about the feelings that you believe are holding you back is a powerful first step to moving forward. But it’s just the first step. Release the break and substitute positive thoughts that contradict the self-defeating belief. Begin to employ counters–positive realistic statements that argue with your limiting thoughts. When practiced effectively, counters become the basis for your behavior instead of negative thinking.
Unfortunately, for most of us, old habits die hard–especially bad ones. We can become very comfortable with our weaknesses or low self-esteem. Our personal effectiveness is heavily at the mercy of our negative self-image but there is hope. The mere DESIRE for change can be the springboard that sends you sailing to a higher level of courage and confidence to try new things and transform your life. Instead of believing that you are NOT an effective communicator or don’t measure up, take some time to reflect and record your successes. What you view as your mess can often be transformed into your message for success.
Observing a role model you admire or studying with a mentor can help you to gain knowledge about new thought processes and behaviors you desire to integrate into your life. Once you identify positive traits and core values that disengage your negative inner critic, choose to actively bring improved behaviors into your day-to-day package of words and actions. Generate goodwill in and around you by expressing compliments and positive reinforcement to others as well as yourself.
When you begin practicing new behaviors, these continuous actions that express your desired self-image eventually become a habit. Encouragement from self and others is critical to the growth and change process. When the responses your receive from others feels positive and you begin to see the results from changing your behaviors you typically feel strong and better, which promotes personal effectiveness.
EDSI’s Increasing Personal Effectiveness curriculum outlines a helpful five-step philosophy for overcoming a negative self-image model.
- Keep your THOUGHTS positive; your thoughts become your WORDS.
- Keep your WORDS positive; your words become your ACTIONS.
- Keep your ACTIONS positive; your actions become your HABITS.
- Keep you HABITS positive; your habits become your VALUES.
- Keep your VALUES positive; your values become your DESTINY.
Understand that YOU are the most powerful person in your life. When you make the appropriate choices to achieve the results you’re looking for, you’ll then become effective.