We make judgments about ourselves and others and hold everything up against an ideal – even though this is a picture we have constructed ourselves. When things happen to us or around us, we try assign meaning to them to try and make sense of them. We are constantly searching for the reason things happened to us, particularly hurtful situations or experiences that we regret. We try to control and prevent these events or experiences happening again by assigning blame, judging and thinking of things we must not do or must not be to protect ourselves.
When we are in self-denial, we are living inauthentically and not in accordance with our values. We often fear that someone will one day “find us out” and confront us with the truth of who we really are, thus shattering the illusion that we can deny our true nature and thus shatter our image of ourselves. When we are in self-denial, the ego is in control of our lives. Our identities are constructed from a position of logic, practicalities, and image of the “ideal” – whatever culture dictates.
Living in self-denial creates a lot of worrying about the future. We try to control the future by doing things that “should” be done, telling ourselves that if we do what we “should”, we can create our experience and control it.
When we deny our true natures, our feelings, and the truth that we are not in control of the world, we live outside of ourselves. The meaning we are searching for is not within ourselves anymore. The result of living in self-denial is anxiety.
The diagram below illustrates these two mindsets:
People who are stuck in a mindset of self-denial will exhibit similar speech and thought patterns. They judge themselves, hold themselves up to unobtainable ideals, and are in a search for meaning in their lives by something “out there” and outside of themselves.
A coach can begin to help by observing these harmful thought patterns and raise the client’s awareness of them. By challenging the comparisons to others by reflecting and active listening, the client will often quickly see that these thoughts are not actually true and also see that they are not helpful. Raising the client’s awareness of their feelings and needs and tapping into their natural curiosity and sense of discovery about these things can help them meet their needs before they become anxious thoughts.
The next step might be in helping the client develop their own emotional intelligence through assessments that bring about reflective, thoughtful discussions about the client’s innate strengths, preferences, and natural abilities. By changing their perspective of themselves and searching for who they really are without the social structures or trappings of modern life, the client can find the meaning and purpose in their lives again, just by being themselves.
The final activity for a coach would be to support the client in making the changes to living in a mindset of self-discovery, behaving in a way that is authentic to themselves and their values/strengths, practicing good self care, and thinking in new ways about having more fun! This sense of discovery, fun, and authentic living will naturally bring about lightness and acceptance into the client’s world, and reduce anxiety and worry.
Coaching Exercise – An exercise to begin to DISCOVER YOURSELF!
Design Your Perfect Day
- Can you imagine your perfect day?
- What would you do from the time you woke up to the time you went to bed?
- Can you imagine it hour by hour?
Try it! Take out a sheet of paper and along the left hand side, write out the times of your waking hours and try and design your perfect day. Write down what you’d be doing, hour by hour.
- What did you notice about what you naturally would like to do with your time?
- What wouldn’t you want to do on your perfect day?
- How might you redesign your days next week to bring a little more of your perfect day into it?
- What might have to change for you to be able to live EVERY day like your perfect day? Are you willing to make any of these changes now?