Here I was a “confidence catalyst”. Trained and certified to coach people to face, embrace and grow from self-doubt, yet overwhelmed with self-doubt, looking for a gift for a 12 year old pen pal.
My inner critics were working full time. Their ammunition was doubt. It sounded like this.
“That’s no good…”
“He won’t like that!”
“What if he’s not interested in that?”
“What a loser idea!”
The doubt left me feeling physically weak and embarrassed I was having such a hard time in search of the perfect gift.
(That was clue right there).
That was it really. This inner critic wanted it to be perfect.
A perfect gift.
The kind of gift that would be appreciated, used, cared about, not just shoved aside. But was I really thinking about this gift being perfect? Or did it go deeper?
Was there a nugget of “2% of truth” in this nagging message. I use this “2% truth” tool to help coaching clients come to terms with the slightest bit of truth that may be available for guidance.
It’s a way to shift perspective.
What were the facts behind the emotion of this self doubt?
I needed a gift under $10.
I didn’t want to waste money and buy any old thing.
I wanted it to be useful and meaningful to him.
Or was it something else? As I considered things a little deeper, I wondered if it was the pen pal relationship itself that I was really considering?
Questions like, “Was this year long relationship useful, was it appreciated, was I appreciated, would it be remembered, would I be remembered?
As I came became aware of some of these self doubting thoughts, the wisdom within me, reminded me “This isn’t about you”, and a particular letter from this winter popped into my mind. He had shared a drawing that he was doing at school, and mentioned how he liked to draw. And suddenly I was standing in front of a shelf of books.
How to draw animals.
Now I could locate a pack of drawing paper. My shoulders relaxed and my mind stopped churning.
The day of our gathering, I realized that my inner “Wise One” got it right as I watched my pen pal’s eyes get big. He smiled and said, “Oh great, I love it.”
That 2% of truth behind the self-doubt was: the gift needed to be of use to him and to foster his artistic creativity. And although I did want the relationship to be remembered long after the gift, that was out of my control.
So what did I learn from all of that?
Awareness was key.
To be aware of the thoughts in my mind.
To be aware of the facts behind the doubts in my mind.
To become quiet enough to ask myself, what am I really afraid of, or what are my motives?
And then I must also become present and quiet to listen. Listen to stop and breathe so I can hear my Wise One Within.
As Byron Katie so wisely suggests, we must meet our thoughts (Inner Critics and Self Doubts) with understanding, then they will let go of us.
So if you catch yourself, as I did, second guessing, doubting, dismissing your own thoughts, try this ABCD method:
A Awareness, just notice. Notice what you are thinking, where you are standing, how you are feeling, with no judgment. Naming it can bring you to the present moment.
B B r e a t h e. D e e p breaths and s l o w exhalations. 3 of them And continue to notice.
C Consider. What are the facts at this moment? What are your motives? What is the next healthy thing you can do in this moment?
D Do that next best thing.
I am always happy to hear your thoughts and if there is something that needs some curiosity, please contact me so we can see what is possible.