I feel dumb…
I was recently in a session with a client who was worried that she needed to leave her job because she was ‘dumb’ and thought everyone was going to find out.
Because she was worried about being dumb and getting caught out, she didn’t ask any questions when she felt confused, which meant she made mistakes and that just confirmed her thoughts that she was dumb.
This client was in pain and suffering and thought the only way to fix this was to change her circumstance and leave that job.
But this would never work.
You see, the job wasn’t making her feel dumb. It was the thoughts she was having about herself that were causing her to feel dumb, worried and doubt herself.
Think of it in terms of this model (note 1):
Your CIRCUMSTANCES (a fact or event that is external to you)
Trigger your THOUGHTS (a sentence in your mind)
Which cause your FEELINGS (a sensation in your body)
Which cause your ACTIONS (what you do or don’t do)
Which cause your RESULTS (the effect of your actions).
For my client, it looked like this:
CIRCUMSTANCE – a task at work
THOUGHT – I am dumb
FEELING-worried would lose job
ACTION – don’t ask for help
RESULT – Make mistakes (and confirm thought that she is dumb)
Your external circumstances (i.e. your job, your husband, something someone said, etc) can never, ever cause you to feel a certain way. It is your thoughts about that circumstance that cause how you feel and guess what….
…your thoughts are optional. Yep, that’s right! Your thoughts are just a sentence in your mind once you know that, it becomes clear that you can change your thoughts and once you do that, it will change how you feel, and what you do.
Imagine if instead of telling herself she was dumb, my client thought “this was never explained well to me, I better ask for help”. Imagine how different her result would be. Let’s look at it in terms of the model:
CIRCUMSTANCE – a task at work
THOUGHT – this was never explained well to me, I better ask for help
FEELING-curious to learn
ACTION – ask for help
RESULT – get help and learn how to do job
A very different result just from changing a thought about a circumstance which shows it wasn’t the job or the task at work that were causing her to feel dumb, it was the thoughts she was having about herself. She thought she would need to change her job to stop feeling dumb but all she needed to do was change her thoughts about herself.
A really important distinction to make is your thoughts are not true, despite the fact they may feel that way. In the example above, this client thought her thought of “I am dumb” was the truth because it was a thought she’d had for so, so many years. Because she thought it was true, she thought the only way to feel better would be to leave her job. Unfortunately, she would take this thought with her to her new job and end up miserable and unhappy again.
Changing your external circumstances won’t ever fix the problem. You need to uncover the thought/s causing your problem and work on changing that before you change anything external to you. Otherwise you’ll just take that negative thought with you and end up in the same place in no time. Think of weight. If you think ‘I’ll be happy and love my myself once I’m thin’ you get to your goal of being thin but it’s highly likely you’ll put the weight back on because you’ll find you still don’t love yourself once you’re there.
For any problem you have or anything in your life that’s causing you pain and suffering, once you know you can change your thoughts about that thing, you will change your how you feel which will change what actions you take and then the results you see in your life.
So, spend time getting to know your thoughts. Because, once you change how you think, you’ll notice everything on the outside will begin to change as well. Your weight, your marriage, your kids, your finances or anything else that’s not how you want it to be. This can all change once you learn to manage your thoughts to help create any outcome you want for yourself and your life.
Note 1 – coaching model from Brooke Castillo (The Life Coach School)