By Debra LeClair Psy.D.
Our work lives provide abundant indications of how we hold ourselves in our own esteem. For example, staying in a job where you feel bored may be connected to not believing that you have the skills to work in a position that fully engages you. Look at the following lists and check any that hit home.
At work, I feel like I:
o am not treated with respect
o can’t speak up to get my ideas heard
o can’t seem to get most projects done the way I want
o am not adequately compensated
o have been passed over for a promotion
Just know, that it very natural to look to outside forces to explain why these conditions exist in our work lives. “My supervisor has an axe to grind and treats everyone badly,” “Our department is like an old boys club, they don’t want to hear what a woman has to say.” These assessments may be 100% accurate, but the compassionate question is, what makes you tolerate these conditions? No doubt there are practical reasons that cause you to feel like you need to put up with the situation as it remains. Feeling unable to change something so often comes from an underlying feeling of scarcity that defines our self-esteem. You may recognize it as that feeling that you always have to prove that you are good enough. This is fueled by all that negative internal monologuing that is so prevalent that it passes for the truth. Living in the place where we are constantly worrying about our worthiness interferes with us being able to believe in our potential, both in what we could do for a living AND in what we can manifest in regard to the environment of where we work. This pertains to things like the aesthetics of the work space and even how supported you feel by your co-workers.
A great place to start when building positive self-esteem is to become aware of how many negative messages you tell yourself. This includes everything from: “I can’t wear this to work, I look huge” to “I hate my desk, it’s always a mess” to I don’t think my new boss likes me.” Do you get a sense of how pervasive this really is? A highly recommended next step, interestingly enough, is called “The Work” which is a set of powerful questions developed by Byron Katie (www.thework.com). These questions really get to the heart of the matter to help you to see things with clarity in order to make a shift that will stick. The questions to ask when dealing with a deflating thought are the following:
• Is this really true?
• Can I absolutely know that this is true?
• What reaction do I have when I have that negative thought?
• Who would I be without this thought?
• Is it possible that the opposite could be equally true?
Watch what this does to the credibility of all that harsh self-talk that plays in the mind. Even more importantly, watch what the change in perspective can do for you both in how you view the world and yourself.
Debra LeClair Psy.D. is a life/executive coach, corporate trainer and psychologist who partners with organizations and individuals around making positive and sustainable change. Debra helps those seeking career satisfaction, enhanced communication skills and improved team/individual performance. She owns Full Spectrum Wellness LLC, a holistic health and learning center www.fullspectrumwellness.com and co-owns Platinum Principle Training & Development, www.platinumprinciple.com, a company that specializes in interpersonal effectiveness training for organizations.