It’s often said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this adage is a little pessimistic for my liking. I love learning. Thanks to years of therapy, self-help books, and Oprah episodes, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. What’s been even more powerful than learning about myself however, has been learning how to deal with myself.
I’ve been studying myself for over a decade, so I get pretty excited when a speaker, book, or spiritual guru gives me a new sanity-saving tool to try out. When it comes to self-help, I’ve seen a lot, tried a lot, and I know I’ll never stop playing with new techniques. And of course, passing the best ones on to you!
My latest discovery has been a real game-changer…
Several months ago, I attended a beautifully curated, women’s leadership conference put on by the powerhouse of Rebelle. During the event, female pediatrician and mindset coach Dr. Arpita DePalma shared a tip that stopped me in my tracks.
As women, we often worst-case-scenario ourselves into believing that the future is a disaster waiting to happen.
I, for one, can catastrophize like a pro. I spent decades spinning horrifying “what if” scenarios out of thin air. What if I let my parents down? What if I don’t get into my college of choice? What if I lose my job? What if my husband leaves me? What if I’m not doing enough?
You name it, and I’ve created a future-based, fear-laced scenario around it. Maybe you’ve done the same. If so, it’s time to stop. Life is already hard enough, let’s not make it harder than it has to be, based on the optical delusion of a doomsday future.
Here’s the hack to put an end to your self-defeating tendencies:
When worrying about the future, instead of jumping into the fear-based question, “What if (I don’t get what I want)?” deliver a more positive prompt like, “Even if (I don’t get what I want)…”
For example: Replace “What if I get passed up for my next promotion?” with “Even if I get passed up for my next promotion…” This way, even if you don’t get what you want, you can reassure yourself that you’ll survive.
This technique helps your brain recognize that you’ve pushed through challenges in the past, and you can do the same now. I’ve used it to remind myself that I’ll be okay even if a work project tanks, I don’t mend that strained relationship, or my daughter starts dating (gulp).
You can also help others with your new exercise. While having a drink the other night with a girlfriend who’d started a new job, she said, “What if people think I took a step back in my career?” That was my cue to suggest, “Even if people think you took a step back in your career…,” and she completed the sentence with, “It doesn’t matter because I’m excited about this job.” Boom.
A shift in perspective in a matter of seconds.
By swapping out one word, its impact on your psyche is profound. A single word shifts the energy around the conversation from conditional to unconditional love. Even if things don’t turn out as you wish, you’ll keep going and keep slaying. You always do.
These last two tips – “even if it happens . . .” and reversing the negative self-talk so that your brain searches for evidence – are really, really helpful. The idea of self-doubt being a major issue for mom’s hasn’t resonated with me. Because I don’t doubt whether I’m good enough, I KNOW I can do better, more, faster, happier and on and on. That has been my frame-up and the word “doubt” was putting me off on feeling like SLAY was really for me. These two tips though have made me see my stress and pressure and the load I carry in a new way – as largely self inflicted. I still want to do the things I want to do and do them well but not being so hard on myself will actually help me do that. I need to be my own friend. Thanks for these tips!
I’m so glad to hear these resonated with you, Alicia. I understand how the term may have tripped you up, but I just want to remind you that just because you may know that you can do more, doesn’t mean that you have to. Slaying your dragon of self-doubt is all about shutting down that inner voice that makes you feel as though your worth is dependent on what you do and about living life honoring who you truly are. I am excited to hear what you think about the book when you read it — please stay in touch! – Katherine
I love this! In a year-long search for a new job, my disaster mode can be paralyzing and self-defeating. I appreciate the spin on it, and how the first 2 words can change the trajectory of the sentence and therefore mindset. Thanks so much!
I completely understand, Patty! I hope that this reframe will help you stay positive and grounded during this search. Best of luck, my friend! – Katherine