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Coaching Around Self-Judgment: You think Attila the Hun was hard on people!

One of the first things I noticed when I started coaching people for peak performance was how hard we are on ourselves. I am not talking about a simple “that was stupid” every once in awhile but a consistent pattern of self-condemnation and negative self-talk. It can be brutal.

I first thought the propensity to negate our self through self-condemnation was an occasional thing, but I have come to learn it is ubiquitous and affects almost all of us to some degree or another.

Contrary to the common belief that successful people are free from self-doubt and insecurities and must by all accounts feel good about themselves, what I found is: success is something entirely different and has very little to do with negative opinion or self-talk. Many of my clients are interested in taking their life to the next level of achievement and have accomplished, prosperous, and happy lives, but they still have realms in their lives that are dark, negative, and destructive, and it is from those realms they suffer most. It seems to be the measure by which they evaluate themselves; it seems to be easier to believe something less than perfect about ourselves than not…I’m not sure why.

Coaching conversations can be very intimate, and in some ways, are designed as such. Perhaps that is one reason why the words and thoughts of clients gently (or not) reveal insecurities and self-doubt. That is not to say there are not words of hope, inspiration, and greatness also, but when one is exploring developing new perspectives and personal capabilities, ways of behaving, and leading, it is not just about new behavioral strategies. If anything, a new to-do list of ways to think and act is new ammunition for that part of us that wants to be perfect and, when less than, condemns.

This is the part of a post in which I launch off into exactly what you should do to lessen your propensity to get down on yourself and beat yourself up — universally recognized as a debilitating thing to do — and outline the steps to take if you are interested in taking your life to the next level of achievement.

But I will leave that to someone else or you can Google it and you will find more formulas than you can print and try. Knowing the right thing to do is pretty much an easy thing to figure out and get help with. For example, Google “formulas for success” and 48,600,000 results suddenly appear. Within that search there is bound to be some direction or formula on how to create a better life.

If we were not human, this would be enough…make a list of what you need to do to accomplish your objective and take action. Unfortunately or fortunately, this is not enough. We have to also deal with the human side of existence, the one dealing with thinking and emotion. Coaching does just that.

It is not knowing what to do (unless when it is) that impedes us. It is figuring out why we do not do what we already know. That answer eludes a formulaic response, and I think is at the core of why we are hard on ourselves.