What do you do when you are lacking confidence? We all have times we feel unworthy, lack the confidence to step outside our comfort zone to do something new, different, or challenging. I couldn’t figure out what was holding me back. Why did I know I could do something, and yet some little small voice was speaking in my head that I couldn’t, or I didn’t deserve more, or I wasn’t smart enough, or not enough of something. You know those little voices we listen to when we know we shouldn’t? Those little voices that are the negative feelings we have? Now, just to make sure we are on the same page, I am not talking about audible voices. I am talking about the seeds of doubt we have from time to time.
A few years ago I was working with a life coach. It was an eye-opening experience. A coach is not a counselor. They don’t diagnose and try to fix a person. A coach is also not a consultant. They don’t listen to what someone is dealing with, and then come up with a plan for them. A coach knows that the person whom with they are working really knows the answers, but they need some help unlocking the door. The coach asks powerful questions that makes one really think through and discover their own answers.
I was working with my coach on some areas in which I wanted to be more effective, but something was holding me back. Fear! Yeah, fear, but what did I have to fear? I gave excuses that I couldn’t do something, and the coach asked me who was saying that to me. Who was saying that to me? Well, let me think . . . and I named someone who had a long time ago told me negative things, and my coach said, “____________ is telling you that now?” Well, no, that person wasn’t even in my life any longer, so why was I saying that?
That began my journey of those little voices that speak in our brains that says we not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not whatever enough. One of the coaching exercises we did was naming those little voices. It sounds odd, but it was pretty amazing. Some people call them “gremlins,” some use the term “saboteurs.” I personally like the name “saboteurs” because those thoughts were sabotaging my efforts. At first I didn’t understand what the coach was trying to get me to do. As we talked about it, I realized I could name these saboteurs, and doing so made me realize that it was ludicrous, silly, and non-existent. It was playing old tapes in my head that may have been there for years, and never questioning them—just letting them whisper in my ear.
I’m going to share with you who the saboteurs were that I discovered doing this exercise. It might help you in figuring yours. Once you can name them, even describe what they look like (be creative), you can realize that they are pretty silly, and wonder why we even listen to them. That day I identified four saboteurs. Here they are:
1, The Worm – The Worm burrows through my brain telling me I don’t deserve any of my heart’s desires, I am not good, I am lazy, I am everything negative and will never be, no matter what I do, deserving of anything good in my life. He brings me to my lowest, makes me feel unworthy and alone. I named him the “worm” because what he does is slimy and yet sneaky–how those thought slither through my brain. This “worm” would work its way around my brain when I was in the midst of something difficult at work, and yet I knew better. I knew I was capable.
2. The Church Lady – She is the most conservative lady on earth. She reminds me of all the people who will say bad things about me, how ungodly I must be, how even God doesn’t like me, how so many things in my life were wrong so I just have to live only with consequences. It is so easy to judge ourselves harshly and sometimes in ways that God doesn’t judge. Yet, when we confess our sins to God, he forgives them. He doesn’t bring them up again. In fact, Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” What does that mean? When God forgives us, it is forgiven. It is removed as far away as the east is from the west. That’s to infinity! So, if God can forgive me, who do I think I am that I cannot forgive me? So, I can silence the Church Lady by reminding myself of that verse. God loves me, He forgives me, he doesn’t bring it up into my face over and over. He has let it go. No need to punish myself.
3. The Professor – The professor is busy telling me how stupid I am, that I cannot remember things, that I pretend to be accomplished, that I have everyone fooled, I am a fraud, I just got lucky getting the jobs I got. Everyone really knows how stupid I am and therefore I do not deserve respect. I was not a great student. I really struggled being a student. I think it has something to do with my independent stubbornness. I’m not a fan of being told what to do and when to do it. So, sitting in a classroom, and being told to read so many pages, etc. was difficult for me. On the other hand, I did do what was required of me. I graduated from high school. I graduated from college. I even attained a Masters degree—they don’t just give those away if one hasn’t worked. I also have several professional certifications. But back in high school, my counselor told me I was not college material. Even though I successfully completed all this schooling, I think I was allowing her voice to whisper in my ear. No more!
4. Rico Suave’ – This was possibly the loudest of all my saboteurs. Rico was all men. His looks changed all the time because all men look different. He told me what men like–and it was definitely not me! He said I was not pretty enough, not sexy enough, talked too much, not attractive enough, too fat, just no man would want me on his arm or anywhere else. I felt I had failed in two marriages. I was damaged goods. No one could love me or trust me. I sure didn’t know how to flirt—it’s wonder I had married twice! I had no confidence in my ability to meet someone who would even consider me a possibility as a significant other. When I worked with this, I had to really figure out what I was doing. I knew what I wanted in a mate. I had a clear criteria by then. My coach encouraged me to stop listening to this silliness, and just get out there and see if I could find such a person. I went to the internet and signed up for a dating site. I had a lot, and I mean a lot of first dates. Except this time it was different. I was the one who refused the 2nd date. I had my criteria, and if I could tell up front this man did not meet the majority of my list, it was a “no thank you.” I quit thinking it was me that kept this from happening. It was now me having control of me and what I needed. I also didn’t take anyone who wasn’t interested as a personal affront. We all have different taste, and if I’m not their cup of tea, that’s okay.
I learned how to silence these crazy saboteurs. For me, I had to get to my “God Spot.” My “God Spot” was term I made up in a coaching session where I was searching for a new perspective to a problem. This term popped out of my mouth, and I realized that it was what I needed. I needed to feel I was in a “spot” where I felt God’s unconditional love for me. Because I am feeling this unconditional love, I can use all the gifts, skills, personality, whatever necessary that God has given me, and I don’t have to feel 2nd class, and I can impact others lives. There is much gratitude when I am in this spot. I can say to myself, “I know my stuff. I am enough.” As I am doing that, being in the light of my “God Spot,” I feel that light narrowing and literally becoming the laser light that hits the saboteur and zaps it, and it shrivels and dies. And I am free, free to feel the love in this light, free to know that I know my stuff, free to know that I have an opportunity to make an impact, and that I am magnificent as God created me—not second best—because God doesn’t create junk!
When I first started writing my blog last year, that worm wanted to pop up and tell me what a silly idea this was. I silenced it. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my writing. I want to connect with people. I want people to know they are not alone in their struggles. I want to spread love and joy, and share my life, so you can feel free to live yours and share your life. I can’t let that worm stop me from writing my blog. So, I silence that worm and continue writing. I hope this all made some sense to you.
What are those voices that rattle around your brain when you are not feeling at the top of your game? Maybe you should think about it, name them, and when you do, it’s pretty easy to let them go!