By Debbie Peterson – Founder of Getting to Clarity, Speaker, Trainer and Coach for the fed up midlife woman looking to fulfill her life’s purpose with confidence and clarity!
Did you realize that you are supposed to train your brain? I never knew that until I took my NLP trainings and then I was shocked to realize that 95% or more of our thoughts are completely unconscious. There are so many things that you do on autopilot – brushing your teeth or driving for example. Your habits and routines allow you to focus your time and energies on other things that require more conscious thought instead of the mundane. These habits, routines and thoughts are created like the roads you use to travel in your car. When you find a route, you tend to stick with it and travel the same way every time, never exploring another route. How many of you don’t even have to think about your route to work; you just do it.
The thinking habits that allow us to be efficient, to grow, to be creative, etc. are beneficial to us, but it’s the thinking habits that don’t serve us that become the problem and this is where we need to retrain our brains. That’s why the fourth step to building confidence is Training YOUR Brain.
Negative Automatic Thoughts. In the book the Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Clair Shipman talk about NAT’s or negative automatic thoughts. They are an assault on confidence in a BIG way and need to be challenged. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough”, “What makes me think I can do this”, “What will they think if I do this?”, “I’m not good at networking” or “I don’t have ever have anything to contribute”.
Thoughts and ideas such as these pop into your brain all the time but most of the time you aren’t even aware. It has happened so often that it just IS. Here are some ways that you can retrain your brain to generate new thoughts that allow you to build confidence:
- Make a list. If you think “I’m not good enough”, make a list of the good things that you have done. (I held the door for the woman at the grocery store; I helped at the food kitchen at Thanksgiving, etc.) Every time you have one of these NAT’s you have to stop and add to your list of good things to counteract it, no matter how large or insignificant your good deeds or accomplishments are. Got it?
- Remember your WHY. If you’re doing something you have to be doing it for a reason, right? Remember your reasons. I’ve had times where those doubtful, negative thoughts have crept in and I’ve thought “what makes me think I can do this?” I remember my WHY and it reconnects me to the passion I have for helping other women and why I’m doing it in the first place. The WHY can be especially potent when you are helping out someone other than yourself. Helping others = Helping yourself.
- Ask yourself “who specifically?” In the case of “What will they think if I do this?” Who is they and why does it matter? You often give people too much latitude in your decisions and thoughts. The most important things to remember in making decision is that you are ecological in making them (ecological in this case means good for self, good for others, good for planet) and you are true to yourself and your values. If someone else doesn’t like your decision, it’s their stuff and you shouldn’t take it on. Most times though, “they” is just your fear which you generalize and use as an excuse to hold back.
- How do you know? When you think “I’m not good networking” – how do you know? Did someone tell you that? Is it carved in stone somewhere? Did you get an email that says “you suck at networking”? Likely not, it’s just an assumption or judgment that you’ve made and it makes it true for you on some level. How about saying “I am learning to become better at networking”. It leaves you with the potential to get better and because you are “learning” it takes the pressure off.
- QTIP – Quit taking it personally! You think that when something happens, whether good or bad, that it’s somehow because of something you have or haven’t done. When you didn’t get a job or an idea was shot down or when you made a mistake. It’s not about you. People have their own lives to live and aren’t thinking about you all of the time. They have forgotten it long before you have and you need to empower your thoughts by moving on with your lesson in hand and letting the drama go.
- Create a ritual. I don’t mean anything religious or spiritual, what I mean is some sort of habit you go to when those unwanted thoughts pop into your head. Particularly nasty ones that pop into my head get the “white board”. I put the thought on the white board, I spray it with cleaner, I squeegee it off, and then clean up the last vestiges of it with a paper towel which I promptly throw into the fire and watch it incinerate. I know this seems lengthy but it is a couple of seconds and it is the visual I need to demonstrate to my mind that the thought is unacceptable. Sometimes I just see an “X” over the thought. I know one woman who would physically put her hand out to “Stop” the thought. Whatever works for you. Create a ritual or habit around it to help train your brain.
With any of these 6 options it a matter of Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! NAT’s are something that you have to be aware of and act on every time. This way you begin to discover and travel new roads which lead to better places and better outcomes in YOUR life.
Here’s wishing you the confidence and clarity you deserve!
Be good to yourself,
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