I love Coaching and Mentoring and I have some fabulous clients who put real determination and effort into our work together. I love nothing more than when they say something to me in a session and then as they hear what they’re saying, they see the myths they have been telling themselves for the first time as they truly are; fictional stories we tell ourselves to keep us small, keep us stuck inside the (equally mythical) box.
I recently had the perfect example, as a client told me with real joy and enthusiasm in her voice, ( both of which had been lacking for a while), about how she had changed the way she was responding to the whirlwind her Executive often creates and how thrilled she was by the results. In the next sentence she told me she wasn’t good at change. Wasn’t good at change – having just changed her life-long reactionary behaviour, over a matter of weeks, and responded not with a quick, defensive response but instead to take time and breathe and think about a different reply and the positive knock-on effect that could have. I agreed, she totally sucks when it comes to change. I AM KIDDING!
But she wasn’t. Her belief in the myth that she is no good at change, has taken years of her going along with the story she has spun around her ability, or inability to change. Where and how that started is worth questioning, and is almost always liked back to fear. I love the idea that we have all these conclusions about ourselves based largely on something said to us in childhood or early adulthood (most often) and that, if we challenge them we’ll discover their roots are not based in any kind of evidence that is about us or who we are today.
Another myth I hear regularly is the one about how much to charge for services, something along the lines of: ‘I can’t put up my fees, I won’t get any new clients and I will upset all the existing ones.’ This was repeated to me recently by a client who had been working with the same company a couple of days per week for almost five years. The work he does for them is in the marketing area and is key to the successful communication of their brand message. It is a very successful brand and they renew his contract every twelve months. I asked when he had last raised his rate for their work and he admitted that he never had. He was worried they would replace him if he asked for more. After we did some market research and looked at his rate in the market, we agreed an increase of 20% over the year was fair and, not surprisingly when he approached the client, so did they.
When we tell ourselves these myths, I suspect the very idea of challenging them becomes part of the cycle. If you don’t challenge your fears then they never prove you were right. Telling yourself it’s better to be under-paid than lose a client reinforces the underlying messages of lack of self-worth.
There are several myths that I have had to leave behind over the years, including:
- I am younger / less experienced than the rest of the team so they won’t want to hear my ideas.
- I am too fat to ride a bicycle – everyone will laugh at me.
- My idea is stupid, or someone would have done it by now.
- Nobody will read my writing.
We all create ways to keep stuck and undermine what we are capable of – sometimes we are scared we might fail and sometimes we are scared we might succeed. Either way, the first step is to challenge our language and patterns of behaviour that have allowed the myth to become established.
My top tips for this are:
- Mind your language! Seriously, be aware of what you tell yourself. The language in your head, the words you use about yourself and repeat to reinforce a negative message have to go. The only person who can tackle this language is you.
- Next time you notice that you are telling yourself the myth, challenge it. Out loud is best, so if you’re in a busy office, pick up a phone and pretend you’re talking to someone if you don’t want to scare your colleagues! Have a word with yourself- “look at me using that language again! Time to change this.” is a great start.
- Make a note of how often you spot yourself using the myth as an excuse or a way to stay put. You’ll be surprised. Being aware of it starts to challenge it and you to do something different.
- Get excited about your progress and celebrate every day that you’re being less caught up in the myths. You will start to feel good about yourself very quickly if you take the time to notice.
We all, as part of our human make-up, love stories. The important thing is to focus on ones that have a basis in fact or positivity. If neither of these is true, then the story we are telling ourselves serves no good or sensible purpose.
What myths are you telling yourself that you’re ready to challenge?
I’d love to hear how you get on,
From my heart to yours.