Do you believe that a broken mirror, cracked into a thousand crumbling segments, can portray how you truly look? Of course not! Because of the cracks, the reflection would reveal a distorted image of self, a lie to your true appearance. Similarly, having a distorted sense of inner self can cause confusion and anxiety. Like the greek God Narcissus, who was so inflamed with pride that he lost his will to do anything but look at his own reflection, having a deceptive inner critic can rob us of our time, happiness, and ambition. Having a pessimistic sense of self is just as destructive, perhaps even more so, as narcissism.
Your self perception can make or break your career. Many people may think that a job is about fulfilling a specific role, and that’s that. But your emotional life feeds your career much more than you may imagine. Your perspective can fuel your ambition, or kill it. Your perspective can help you to become a great leader, or keep you safely in the background. If you find yourself in a cycle of unhealthy thoughts, you may want to try these three practices:
Self Perception: Self Talk
Much too often our pattern of thoughts can be negative, and stay negative. It is almost too easy to remember the area’s in which we fail to succeed, watching them play like a broken movie reel over and over again. This pattern of thinking doesn’t thrive without some seriously negative side effect, such as depression and anxiety. So how do you overcome negative thoughts? Recognize them and counteract them each individually. When you do make a mistake, which is inevitable, instead of thinking, “I’m not good at anything,” tell yourself, “I choose to learn from my mistakes. I’ll be better next time.” The dialogue happening in our mind’s does truly affect how we live. Positive self talk is not about deceiving yourself, it is about the ability to recognize what is already true.
Self Perception: Self Compassion
Having compassion for yourself is no different than having compassion for others. If a good friend of yours was suffering in any way, your response to would be encouragement, an offering of hope, compassion. Why don’t we attempt this kind of kindness to ourselves? In order to give compassion and empathy, we need to recognize the suffering. Choosing to recognize that you’re hurting, flawed, and ultimately, human, is a scary and brave undertaking. But until your eyes are open to your need for compassion, you won’t be able to have it for yourself. When you fail, be kind to yourself. Learn from it, and move forward. Do the same when you’re imperfect, or your shortcomings are on full display. These things are inevitable.
Self Perception: Trust Yourself
You’re good at your job, trust that! You were hired for a reason, because you can specifically do what no one else could. If you find some heavy decisions are on your shoulders, and many people are pulling at you to make them happen, trust your instincts. Great leaders are people that trusted their instincts and acted bravely on them.
Self Perception: Believe In Your Position
It is proven that happy employees work harder and stay in their positions longer. But it is easy to simply get through the day, forgetting why you chose your job in the first place. Take time to recognize when you are happy in your job, and that you – and your role – are an integral part of the larger picture. Which coworkers are you thankful for? What value has your job brought to you? What value have you brought to it?
Silencing your inner critic isn’t possible, and it isn’t the main goal here. The goal is to have the ability to hear this critic and not take direction from her. Remember positive self talk and self compassion. You can’t keep looking through a broken mirror hoping to gain an accurate sense of self. And if you can’t take it from us, take it from this little girl.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Stay In Touch