A Coaching Power Tool By Konstantin Petrov, Executive Coach, BULGARIA
Self-Doubt vs. Self-Love How It Reacts to Thoughts and Actual Events
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. Lucille Ball
Which one do you think is easier? Of course, it is to self-doubt. We have the tendency to look into our deficiencies and drawbacks rather than focusing on what we like and already cherish in ourselves. The constant urge to become better, more productive, more competitive forces us to look into those things we can still improve in us, that we can make better, or we lack. On the other hand, skills, characteristics, and assets we hold are considered given, achieved, or even checked from that personal checklist. “Okay, on to the next one.” Thus, the majority of our time spent and focus goes onto what we lack and what needs improvement. Doing so has of course consequences to how we feel, how we operate, how we function on daily basis. By the law of attraction, where you spend your time is what you will attract! The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and imaginary thoughts, therefore there is no difference in how it reacts to thoughts and actual events. This leads to a downward spiral that turns it into a doubt: “Will I be able to change”, “Will I be able to do it”, “Will I manage to perform” and so on.
What is Self-doubt?
According to the Oxford dictionary, it is a “lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities”. The roots of this can go back to your early childhood, where parents’ affirmation, approval, and encouragement were missing. It could be related to a traumatic experience during a competition or an event in school, where you simply underperformed and took this performance and generalized it to be applicable for your persona. It could relate to the fear of failure. We freeze or we decide not to do anything, driven by the fear that we might make a mistake or that we might be judged. Therefore, we decide consciously or sometimes subconsciously to stay put. Usually, this leads to the exact place or state which we tried to avoid in the first place – we fail, or we simply underperform.
On the other hand, a self-love is an empowering tool that could not only boost your daily performances and motivation but also could take you out of that place of doubt and stuckness.
What is Self-love?
According to the Oxford dictionary, it is “regard for one’s well-being and happiness”. It is all about putting yourself, your wellbeing, and your happiness first. It is saying no to requests and things you must, need, or should do and focusing on those who you want to do. Self-love is acknowledging your strengths, your positives as well as accepting your flows and your drawbacks, accepting yourself as a whole, and your true authenticity. When we are in the state of self-love, we learn how to accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths, we explain less our shortcomings, have more self-compassion as human beings, we become more authentic, thus we feel more connected to our purpose and values. Being in that state puts the body in a different physical state and respectfully what hormones are produced and how this affects your emotions.
“In one study, participants were asked to choose their reaction to a job rejection letter for the third time in a row in either a reassuring or a self-critical way. The group of participants who focused on personal setbacks engaged in self-criticism and experienced activation of the lateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate. These brain regions are also responsible for processing errors and solving problems. Participants who showed understanding toward themselves, on the other hand, activated the left temporal pole and insula, which are areas of the brain associated with processing positive emotions and loving-kindness. One implication signifies the long-lasting advice that we function significantly better when we approach ourselves with affection as valuable human beings who are worthy of love, instead of seeing ourselves as a problem to be fixed.” (Motamedian, love factory — Self Love Therapy ~ Dr. HessamMotamedian, n.d.)
The Importance of Self-Love
The good thing about self-love is that it could be thought- anyone can learn it. Of course, it requires effort and dedication, but in the end, it is no different than riding a bike. Here are some of the things each of us can do to exercise self-love:
- Writing a Gratitude Journal. Every morning or night (before bed) the client writes at least 3 things he/she is grateful for and specifies how he/she contributed to those. E.g. Today the weather was sunny and warm. How I contributed: I had the awareness and directed my senses and attention to notice that. Or, today I got very positive feedback from my manager on my project. I contributed by putting effort into completing it, working closely with the team, and spending extra 30 minutes daily to keep a good track of progress.
- Asking for Feedback (Positive) From Colleagues, Friends, Relatives:
- What are the things you like, cherish, and admire about me?
- What are the things you would like me to do more?
- What makes you spend time with me?
- What is the thing you cherish most about our relationship?
- The Self-Proclaiming/Bragging Exercise: take a piece of paper and start promoting and bragging about yourself in the best possible way. Clarification: the promotions and bragging should be based on actual skills, characteristics (not imaginary). Important: it is advised to exaggerate substantially
Steps to Enlighten Self-Doubt vs. Self-Love
In my cases, clients come in the session stuck or in a state of self-doubt but lack the awareness of it. Therefore, the first step is to enlighten that and make it visible to them.
Questions on Self-doubt:
- Where is your attention currently focused?
- What is your current way of thinking?
- What does this give you?
- How does it make is you feel?
- How does being in self-doubt serve your goal/purpose?
- What will happen if self-doubt suddenly disappears?
Usually, enlightening the state of self-doubt is enough to trigger the client to desire or even shift their perspective. Nevertheless, sometimes this is not enough. Then we need to support them in making that transition. It could be done by asking the right questions:
Questions on Self-love:
- What are the things/aspects that you love in yourself?
- What are the things/aspects others cherish and love in you?
- How does this make you feel?
- How does being in the state of self-love serve your goal/purpose?
- Coming for the state of Self-love, how can you address your goal of today?
Or via a visualization/exercise:
It is a simple visualization, but very effective from my point of view. The instructions are as follows: Imagine that there is a small kid 6 or 7 years old and that she/he is in front of you now and is having troubles (it could be the same challenge as your current one or a different one). He/she is doubting whether she/he could solve it and move on. Now your mission is to comfort him/her:
- What are the things you will tell her/him?
- What gestures/movements you would like to do?
- How would you comfort him/her?
- How would you show him/her your love?
Now the client is in the state of caring and love, we could ask the following questions:
- Being in this state how can you support yourself?
- What are the things you are willing to tell yourself with regards to your challenge?
- How can you support yourself in overcoming your challenge?
The Role of the Coach to Self-Doubt vs. Self-Love Awareness
There will always be polarities in this world, and we are not different than that. There will be good and bad, happiness and sadness, self-doubt, and self-love in all of us, and that is simply natural. It is up to us to decide where we would like to focus our thought, attention, and efforts. The moment we realize we have the control to choose where to direct our energy is the moment, we become empowered. The role of the coach is to make sure that his/her clients have that awareness, and that they came to make that choice. Simple, isn’t it?