Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Why Do You “Shoot Yourself in the Foot?” (part 12 of 12)

4.  Stop judging yourself and others. Your judgments are not reality.  Because your thinking is distorted, your judgments are your projected illusion of reality based on erroneous thoughts. If my beliefs are false and self-defeating, I will tend to view the world through distorted eyes.  In so doing, I will judge myself, others, and situations with unrealistic expectations which will inevitably lead to disappointment.  These disappointments will further distort my reality.

5.  Be willing to let go of what you don’t understand so you can make room for what you can understand and love.  There are more things in this world than are dreamt of in your philosophy. We tend to believe everyone sees the world the same way we see it.  So it would only make sense that what affects me should affect others the same way.  When others react in a different way, we assume they reacted that way for the same reasons I would react that way.  In reality, others react to certain stimuli based on their perspective of the world, which is often very different them mine.

(Example 1: If I come from a family of huggers, I will probably feel a need to hug people I feel really close too.  If I come from a family where people respect one another’s personal space and demonstrate their affection verbally, I will feel uncomfortable when someone invades my space and will avoid being touched.

As a hugger, when someone pushes me away or avoids hugging me I may feel rejected, discounted, or even insulted.  And when someone verbally expresses his or her affection for me, I may feel uncomfortable.

As someone who values their personal space, when someone hugs me I could feel violated and even disrespected.)

(Example 2: One person may show affection for another by patting them on the head, while the other may view this as demeaning.)  Remember: no one sees reality the way reality really is; we see it they way we are.  By opening yourself up to different perspectives, you open yourself up to grow as a human being.  You can then respect others’ perspectives as theirs and respect yourself for your perspective.  This allows you to differentiate your thoughts, opinions, actions, and beliefs from those of others.

6.  Accept that you are almost never upset for the reasons you think. We often find ourselves frustrated, hurt, jealous, ashamed, envious, discounted, angry, or violated because someone said or did something.  We direct our focus on the pain and the event (the incident).  But often, we aren’t really experiencing these feelings because of the incident itself, but the memory of an event this incident has “triggered” from our past.  (Example:  Your girlfriend tells you that something you did was really stupid.)  In reality, what you did was really stupid and you already know it.  But because she said it, now you feel insulted, demeaned, and treated like a child.  You get defensive and angry with her.

But are you really angry with her?  Or are you angry at yourself for doing something stupid?  Or are you feeling insulted, demeaned, and treated like a child because of all the times you were called stupid growing up?  If I am able to understand why I feel a certain way (the motivation behind the feeling), I can put responsibility for feeling this way where it properly belongs.

7.  Stop defending a thought system that has hurt you.  Stop trying to justify your negative thoughts by making them true. As mentioned, we will defend our thought systems.  We feel comfortable in them simply because we’ve become use to them.  They’ve become ingrained and second nature.  Even when our thought system creates negative consequences, we know how to deal with them and what to expect.  The idea of changing what we know is usually threatening (fear of change).  We will rationalize, justify, minimize, and make excuses on why our negative consequences aren’t really all that bad.  In defending our beliefs, we will behave in a way to make sure that what we think will happen actually does happen.

8.  Identify the “payoff” you get from self-defeating behaviors and attitudes. (Payoff such as self-righteousness, negative attention, substance abuse.) Why do we do things?  Simple; because we get something out of it.  Even unhealthy beliefs and behaviors that cause us pain will have a “payoff.”  This payoff may not always be evident and is usually self-defeating in itself.  As we talked about in “victimhood,” though living as a victim causes a lot of pain in my life, I get attention, sympathy, recognition, I can feel morally justified in blaming others, and I can avoid all responsibility for my “lot  in life.”  In reality, the attention, sympathy, and recognition I get is all negative and perpetuates me living as a victim.  Feeling morally justified in blaming others allows me to con myself into believing I have no power to change anything.

9.  Decide how long you are willing to pay the price of your self-defeating behaviors.   (Price such as loneliness, hopelessness, isolation, boredom, and health consequences.) When you look at it closely, you will see that even the payoffs also produce pain.  People will usually continue in a behavior until the pain of that behavior becomes much greater than the payoff.  Because change is threatening, people will only change when it becomes too painful not too.  At least once in everyone’s life, a person will change some long held belief or behavior (example: stop smoking) and ask themselves why they had waited so long.   They may even spend years telling themselves they should change this or that, knowing their life would be better.

10.  Become willing to change, to grow, to heal.

But what if we learned to embrace change instead of fear it?  By embracing change, life becomes an adventure.  We become willing, sometimes actually excited, to take an honest look at ourselves and identify false beliefs and self-defeating behaviors and then get busy doing the work to change them.  We realize we don’t have to be shackled to self-sabotage.  We no longer have to be victims.  We can reclaim our inner power and actually take charge of our lives, redefine ourselves, and direct our destiny.

– excerpt from “Becoming Master of Your Own Destiny”


July 1, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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