No one can make you feel anything

Working as a life coach for the past four years, I’ve gotten very intimate with many of the lies people tell themselves. In the coaching world, we call these lies “limiting beliefs.” It’s a term you may have heard before and the concept is simple, but not necessarily easy to spot.

I want you to identify an area where you are experiencing dissatisfaction at work. For the sake of example, let’s say that you get angry every time you are in a meeting with your co-worker, Jack. It seems like whenever you want to share an idea or comment, he interrupts you or dismisses you, sending you into a silent rage. The anger is so overwhelming that you just shut down – and spend the rest of the meeting with your arms crossed and tuned out.

At first glance, it’s easy to blame your reaction – anger – on Jack. After all, his arrogance is causing your shut-down, right?

Actually, wrong.

Between Jack’s interruption and your anger, something bigger is happening. You are thinking a thought. That’s right – your brain is making the interruption mean something to you.

If you weren’t making it mean something, you wouldn’t get angry. Consider this – you’re a woman with shoulder-length brown hair and you’re walking down the street. A man passes you and says, “I really hate your purple hair.” Chances are good you wouldn’t be upset by his comment.

Why not? It’s simple. Because you know it’s not true. You’re not silently worried that your purple hair is unbecoming, because you don’t have purple hair. His comment passed right through your consciousness and found nothing to cling to.

Likewise, if you have complete confidence in yourself and your abilities, when Jack interrupts, you might let it roll off your shoulders, say a polite but firm, “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished,” and continue on.

But….if he interrupts you and your brain makes it mean that Jack doesn’t think you’re smart which in turns means everyone must not think you’re smart, you go quickly into a reaction of defensiveness and anger to protect yourself.

“Everyone thinks I’m dumb” is now you’re limiting belief – the lie you tell yourself that causes you pain. Once you identify the lie, you can work on dissolving that belief….and when you dissolve that belief, Jack’s actions will have less and less power over your state of mind.

The next time you find yourself reacting to something you think someone else is doing, dig deeper. What is the thought you are thinking that is causing your pain?

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