Monday, 23. April 2012 14:34
What triggers you? Is there an annoying question from a friend or family member that regularly gets you pissed off? Maybe it’s “Why haven’t you found a job yet?” or “When are you getting married?” It’s a comment or a question that makes you feel unseen, misunderstood or criticized for not being good enough.
Why is this situation so irritating – and why won’t that annoying question go away? The key is that it’s how you feel about yourself that matters. When you have confidence in yourself, you won’t be bothered by what others say, because it won’t matter. In fact, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you – only what you think of you.
Perhaps that sounds easier said than done. It all becomes less stressful when you have nothing to prove – especially to yourself. Suddenly, the trigger becomes a gift because it informs you about your fears and insecurities. Once you develop awareness of yourself, you can change. You can handle whatever needs to be addressed.
Here’s a process that you can try:
- First, identify your trigger(s). What is it and who asks it? What does it mean to you?
- What is your internal answer to the question? Where do you feel it in your body? What negative thoughts does it bring up for you? The questions you hear from others often reflect the voice of your own inner critic; the negative things you say to yourself inside your head so frequently, you barely notice. Hear them now. Get to know them. Shake them out of the trees and question them. Are they true or are you making false assumptions and engaging in unproductive self-flagellation?
- Reflect. How would you answer your difficult question if you had nothing to prove to yourself, much less anyone else? What is the reason that you haven’t gotten a job, or that you haven’t gotten married? What is true for you? What do you want and how might you get it? This is not about beating yourself up. This is about assessing what is really going on for you so you can take inspired action to change your situation or to adjust your thinking.
- Make a plan. How might you handle a situation that is causing you to self-criticize? Do you need to have an honest discussion in your relationship? Do you need to try a different approach to a problem? Should you seek professional help, like a therapist, a career counselor or some other resource that can help you break a pattern that is keeping you from creating the life you desire?
Once you know how you feel, you can start to handle your issue, and the confidence will come. You’ll have taken the first step toward understanding that you have nothing to prove. You’ve done the work. Although things may be difficult, you know where you are going and you know why. Suddenly, all you have to do is gracefully manage the question next time it comes up. Chances are, this will become easier as the trigger loses some of its sting.
So next time your Aunt Hilda asks you that awful question for the umpteenth time, recognize that she may not be able to hear what you say. Perhaps she is simply mirroring her own fears and concerns. Recognize that that is about her, not about you. And with that knowledge, maybe you can give your Aunt a hug and a smile, tell her not to worry, and then politely change the subject.
More about Me…
I’m a life and career coach helping professionals and artists reduce stress in their lives and to achieve their dreams. If you have a situation or a problem that is causing you to feel like you have cobwebs in your brain, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary 30-minute consultation, and get started back to clarity. And, you can get more information at www.theprojectcoach.com