As a coach, you might think I wouldn’t need a coach myself. You’d be wrong.
I’m human and as a result I have; insecurities, challenges, issues, problems, dreams, and goals. Just because I know about emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and purposeful living, doesn’t mean I’m immune to the self-limiting voices that patrol my mind. Shoot – just read a couple of these blog posts and you’ll realize how much junk is in my head.
I used to think seeking help was a sign of weakness, but now I know the fallacy of that thought. There isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t need a hand.
If you’re one of the stubborn fools (yes, I’m calling you a stubborn fool), who doesn’t think you need help, here are a couple of people who you are apparently “more evolved than”:
Jesus Christ and Siddhartha Gautama
You might have heard of these dudes before. One got help from Simon of Cyrene to carry a cross and the other received guidance from an Indian ascetic, telling him to follow a life of self-denial and discipline. That self-denial and discipline helped Siddhartha to find his way to a Bodhi tree and become the Buddha.
Now I’m not comparing any of us to Jesus or the Buddha, but as far as we know, both of them were human and they needed support and guidance just like everyone else.
I say all this as a reminder. A reminder to you and a reminder to myself. Up until recently, I had been working on something alone, fearful to ask others for help. While I was reading books and casually looking for answers, I refused to seek more professional assistance.
If I had to guess, I’d say that I refused to go for professional guidance because I was scared. Scared to admit I couldn’t do something on my own and scared to succeed.
The area of help I was looking for was self-love. Namely, I knew I needed to love myself more, but I didn’t know how to do it. It sounds silly to type, but this was a real problem – loving myself. I mean, I’ve liked myself and my life for a really long time, but love? Real, true, deep love? Nope.
After getting over my fear and resistance to seeking help, I hired a coach who specializes in areas such as these. In my first session with my new coach, I was asked a very simple question.
“How many times a day, do you say, “I love you” to yourself?”
To which I answered…
In reflection, throughout the course of any day, my mind chatter includes statements like the following, but never something along the lines of “I love you”:
“You idiot, that was stupid.”
“Don’t do that!”
“You can’t do better than that!?”
“What a stupid thing to say.”
“Don’t be so dumb.”
“Come on Dan, suck it up!”
Nowhere in my self-talk are the words. “I love you Dan.”
With a negative to positive self-talk ratio of several thousand to zero, it’s no wonder I’m struggling to love myself.
Shirzad Chamine, author of the fantastic book and training program, Positive Intelligence, calls these negative voices, our Saboteurs. Not all Saboteurs are created equal and the negative voices inside your own head could consist of one or all of the following:
The common Saboteur we all have is the Judge. In addition to the Judge, my Saboteurs primarily consist of the Avoider, Hyper-Achiever, and the Pleaser. To take a brief assessment and uncover your own Saboteurs, feel free to do so by following this link.
With a new understanding that loving myself begins with the voice inside of my head, I’ve been making it a practice to take a break throughout the day, pause, and then look at a photo of myself from around 5th grade (think slightly chubby Dan in an over-sized little league uniform) and simply say, “I love you.”
The early results are this practice is helping to re-orient my self-talk, calm myself, and generally fill my body and awareness with love and kindness. Overall, I’d say it’s working.
In addition to sending love to myself, I’ve also been working to catch my Saboteurs in the act of sabotage. Yesterday for example, I found my Judge and Avoider ganging up on me, saying things like:
“You should have this work done by now.” (Judge)
“Whatever, it’s not that big of a deal.” (Avoider)
“You have the worst work-ethic.” (Judge)
“Who really cares, this task is bs.” (Avoider)
Back and forth the two went, building up additional stress and turmoil inside of me. After several minutes of this, and not getting anything accomplished other than a stomachache and rising self-hatred, I was able to see the two Saboteurs in action. Catching them in the act I said to myself, “KNOCK IT OFF!”
This didn’t help at all.
Rather than being discerning, casually recognizing what the Saboteurs were doing, and calmly using love to disarm them, I used judgement to judge my Judge and Avoider. This was like pouring lava onto the burning negative fire within me and made matters worse. I had given my Saboteurs more power and now I was angry with myself on top of all the previous judgement and bickering.
After wallowing in hatred and anger for a while, I looked around my desk and saw 5th grade Dan smiling at me in his orange and black Tsintolas’ Blazing Braces uniform.
Seeing this, I gave a little chuckle, exhaled, said to myself “I love you,” and got back to work.
The “war to love me more” continues. If you want to join me in this fight, no training is required. Simply grab an old photo and start by saying, “I love you.”
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.