“You’re not good enough!”
“You can’t do this.”
“You still have a lot to learn.”
“You’re not ready for that.”
That’s how my mind sometimes speaks to me, and as I know from my coaching processes, so does the mind of many of my clients.
We often make ourselves small in our thoughts and devalue situations and people. Because often when something comes up that creates suspense – whether it’s a new job, a presentation or event, a new challenge or a potential partner – our voice becomes quite loud inside. Let’s call them the Fanfares of Self-Doubt. And they have a pretty decent volume!
They always contact us when you need them the least, e. g. before a project pitch, job interview or employee interview or even before a date. And then they pull you right down. “I feel like I’m going back to being a little girl,” one of my clients describes it quite on the point.
We are grown men and women and have already gained a lot of experience. We have also known each other for a number of years, reflect regularly and take feedback seriously.
Where does our negative inner voice come from?
There is a psychological theory of the inner child, you may have heard of it before. According to this theory we have 3 instances that influence our actions: 1) the sun child, 2) the shadow child and 3) our inner adult.
Self-doubt is produced by the shadow child. The shadow child stands for our injured and unstable portion of self-esteem and responds to this with protection mechanisms that have proven themselves over the years. The strongest psychological protection is fear. When fear arises, a known protective mechanism activates itself and fends off what we are afraid of. This is also how it works with the self-doubts, which are also part of the protection mechanisms. For example, we were afraid of not being liked, not belonging, not progressing, not being good enough.
The self-doubt is a very well-functioning machinery of our mind. He then begins to produce inner beliefs like “I’m not good enough”. This is what the mind does in order to avoid fear and to minimize the stress caused by fear. That’s a pretty smart mechanism of the body. So self-doubt protects us.
How do we best deal with our inner voice?
At this point we invite our sun child and our inner adult into a dialogue with the shadow child. The sun child is there to remind us of our strengths and to bring the positivity back into the situation. And the inner adult takes responsibility for our actions.
In our childhood we were at the mercy of many situations, e. g. through the decisions and behaviour of our parents, and could not change them. Through our childhood experiences our beliefs have manifested themselves to this day. This may sound like this, for example:“I can only feel good if I am successful”. This never has to be said in reality, but in our inner world this thought has been planted through various incidents in childhood and is still growing today.
What hinders us from deciding freely are our protection or defence mechanisms. The only way to free oneself from this own inhibition is through consciousness. We must learn to read our beliefs that underlie our actions, because it shows us our protective and defensive mechanisms. In this way we can better understand the behaviour of our inner children (voices) and take it seriously.
Through conscious understanding, our inner adult gains control of our actions. This makes us freer. But that does not mean that we will always be in control. Our inner children still remain there, but they no longer have so much unconscious power over us and our actions and so we can slowly accept them as a part of us.
What can help me to become more conscious with myself?
- Focus more on yourself, less on comparison with others
- Mindfully follow your own thoughts and feelings
- Observe yourself from a meta perspective
- Build in conscious breaks for reflection or meditation
- Obtain impulses from outside, e. g. from family, friends, colleagues or in a coaching
- Take responsibility for yourself and your own well-being
If we now know that our self-doubt fulfils a protective function for us, we might even manage to appreciate them a little more instead of fighting against them. They fulfil an important task for us and are a good source for understanding ourselves better.
That’s exactly your subject and you wish for a different way of dealing with yourself?
I am happy to accompany you in your development process.
Contact me for a free first meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photocredit: Daniel Cheung