11 Mar Zero to Hero Thinking in Confidence and Self-Esteem
This was the case for a client of mine but not anymore. She kindly allowed me to share her story with you.
Sophie, a highflying senior account person from an Ad agency, had noticed an unhelpful pattern in life. When things went wrong, she tended to blame herself. She gave a specific example where a colleague she was working with on a project (not a direct report), had gone to her boss and had had a moan about how the project wasn’t going well and about other more general issues. Sophie’s boss decided to talk to Sophie about the situation and get her view.
As Sophie’s boss began to explain the situation Sophie found herself becoming emotional and, although she tried to contain it, she began to cry. Not ideal. She felt that this display of emotion was embarrassing, inappropriate and unprofessional for someone of her seniority.
What had happened to cause this reaction?
We discovered that Sophie’s default thinking* included ‘It’s all my fault’ and ‘I’m to blame’. So when she received the feedback from her boss about her colleague, she immediately referenced it against her default thinking and unsurprisingly she was hijacked by her emotions and was unable to think straight or rationally. Some refer to this as being an ‘Amygdala hijack’ when the Amygdala gland, in our brain, releases hormones that quite literally floods our body and brain giving us the ‘fight or flight’ response. Furthermore, rational thought is temporarily suspended.
How to fix it?
Sophie wanted to stop being hijacked so that she didn’t get emotionally overwhelmed and instead remained calm, professional and rational.
We analysed her default thoughts of ‘It’s all my fault’ and ‘I’m wrong’ and she discovered that these thoughts were plainly not accurate, not just in this particular example but in others where she had become emotionally overwhelmed in the past. So we moved on to explored more appropriate, realistic and positive thoughts that she could hold instead (replacing the Gremlin*).
The break through came in the form of the thought ‘It’s not just because of me!” You could see from her facial expression and posture that this was a eureka moment for her. This made sense.
The proof is in the pudding but I have no doubt that a great shift has taken place in Sophie’s mind. So going forward, when faced with challenging conversations and situations Sophie will now reference the information with the thought “It’s not just because of me”. The emotions associated with this reference thought will be significantly reduced compared to her old thoughts. No longer will she be emotionally hijacked but she will be able to maintain her composure and be able to move on to her resourceful thought of “How can I fix this? (her words).
How good is that? Now Sophie’s confidence and self-esteem battery will be not depleted in the savage manner it has been. Indeed, I anticipate her battery to be replenished as she puts the energy she used to waste on negative emotion into taking control and fixing the issue.
Identification and adaptation of faulty thinking to more appropriate and realistic thinking can have a seismic change in people’s feelings and behaviour. From anxious, angry, frustrated and stressed to calm, controlled, rational and professional.
If you’d like to know how Sophie gets on with her new default thinking. Drop me a line and I’ll keep you updated.
* Default /reference thinking = deep-seated thoughts that we keep in our brain’s filing cabinet and that we reference against in certain situations. NB Default/reference thoughts can serve us well (healthy thinking) or can be damaging (a Gremlin), as we saw in this example.