Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Identifying “Self-defeating” Behaviors (part 10 of 12)


Self-defeating beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors create anesthetizing habit patterns that keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from living life on an integrated conscious level. We end up living life on auto-pilot and are prevented from responding to our most precious moments in life–the here and now.

We must reclaim power over our lives and stop allowing outside people, situations, and influences to have control over our lives.  Life must become a series of new moments and not a stagnate reflection of our past.

As mentioned earlier, all of the roles we have discussed so far are usually developed in childhood.  We develop these behaviors and false “core” beliefs as coping or survival skills.

As children we may be victims, but as adults, we are volunteers.  The fact that we carry these behaviors and beliefs throughout our lives, subconsciously inflicting pain on ourselves, testifies to how powerful they are and how difficult they are to change.

My beliefs will dictate my behavior.  This means I will behave in a way to validate my beliefs.  My behavior will dictate my level of self-esteem and my level of self-esteem will define my beliefs.  When an event happens, a belief will trigger a thought.  This thought will then trigger a behavior that will validate the belief.

Core beliefs are rarely challenged.  Usually learned early in life, these are deeply held beliefs that we fight like hell to defend.  They are so much a part of us – so real – just the thought of changing them makes us feel threatened.  Numerous core beliefs have been linked to self-dislike, self-hatred, and depression.

This is why it is important to question my beliefs and understand what behavior they may direct me to perform.  And if they direct to perform behaviors that are self-destructive, then I need to change the belief.  If I have difficulty identifying beliefs, I can identify my behavior and ask myself what drives this behavior – what is the motivation or belief behind me performing this behavior.  Identifying the behavior and working backwards, enables me to realize the belief.  Change the belief, and you change the behavior.  Change the behavior, and you will change the belief.

Example #1:

I’m in an important meeting with all the top managers in the company.  The subject of the meeting is trimming the budget.  Though I’m new in the company, I’ve noticed a problem in departmental procedure that appears to me to be very costly.  The problem is very obvious to me and the solution appears equally as obvious.  Suddenly, the CEO calls on me, asking if I have any feedback.

The Belief: I’m out of my league.  I’m not as smart as these people.

The Trigger Thought: They must have thought of this already.  If I speak up, I’ll look like an idiot.

The Behavior: I don’t say anything.

My belief of “not being as smart as others” prevents me from speaking up and sharing my ideas.  What if the other managers haven’t already thought of it?  It’s just possible the problem and solution is only obvious to a “new pair of eyes.”  It’s possible the other managers cannot see the forest for the trees.

Because I believe I’m not as smart as the others, I trigger fear of appearing like an idiot.  Because I fear looking like an idiot, I play it safe and say nothing.  Granted, I don’t look like an idiot, but I have also:

1)     passed on an opportunity to solve a major problem and make a major impression,

2)     let others know I’ve seen the obvious, and

3)     validated the belief that I’m not as smart as the others.

If I change my belief to: “I’m just as smart as anyone here,”  my trigger thought would probably be something like:  “maybe they’ve overlooked this.”  Then, my behavior would be to speak up.

If I change my behavior by speaking up, it’s highly unlikely everyone in the room will start rolling on the floor with laughter at my stupidity.  The more probable responses would be:

1)     “we’ve tried that, but it conflicted with marketing,” or

2)     “how come no one else thought of that?”  Either way, my belief that I’m just as smart as the others has been validated.

– excerpt from “Becoming Master of Your Own Destiny”

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July 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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