Val could feel the heat rising on her face.
It was almost like a slow-motion tide that started in her neck and was rising up to her cheeks. And as the redness climbed it seemed to choke off her vocal cords and mangle the thought that she had wanted to speak.
Eyes downcast, she clenched her fists, fighting for control of her being. But it was no good. The moment had passed. Someone else had seized the initiative and taken charge of the floor.
At the end of the meeting, Val hurriedly left the room and stomped angrily back to her desk. She felt furious with herself. Ashamed of her weakness.
“Why does this happen to me all the time?” She demanded angrily of herself as she slumped down disconsolately into her chair. “Why can’t I just say what’s in my mind?”
She glared furiously at the computer screen. “What happens to the words?” “Why does my body confuse my mind?”
“Holy cow.” the words burst out of her mouth, “I can’t go on like this. The frustration will drive me mad.”
A memory suddenly interrupted her thoughts. She reached into a drawer in her desk and pulled out her handbag. She rummaged in the zipped compartment where she secreted away small change, business cards, and other miscellaneous objects.
The glanced briefly at the business card to check that it was the one she wanted without absorbing all the details. She felt the pressure rising in her body. It was that goddam hesitation that so often led her into internal arguments that so often resulted in her not taking action.
This time she banged her fist on her desk. “Goddam it, just bloody well do it.” She demanded of herself.
Her hand snaked out to the phone. She picked up the card. read the number and dialed before she could change her mind.
It took real willpower to stop herself from hanging up before the male voice answered.
Her first words were hesitant, but once she got over the shock of being in this new situation she suddenly found herself feeling relieved that she was doing something to help herself and the words started to flow.
She had met the business coach at a party several months previously and found him easy to talk to. They had half-joked about how he might help her and he had given her a business card and offered a free introductory session.
The introductory session had been light-hearted and much less stressful than she had anticipated.
The coach had explained how he worked and that all their work together would be confidential.
Val had told him about the rising tides of emotions that choked her voice when she was in large meetings. “Do you think you’ll be able to do anything to help me?” She asked anxiously.
“No.” He smiled and shook his head. “I won’t be able to do it for you. But, I will be able to show you how you can stop yourself from getting into these frustrating situations.” He paused. “If you’re really determined to do the work to make the necessary changes.”
Val stared at him. She felt a little confused. She had assumed he would give her something that would work. She wasn’t quite sure what she had expected. She was trying to make up her mind about what to do next.
“Let me put it this way,” the coach interrupted her thoughts. “I expect you have been on training courses where a lecturer has told you how to lead a team. You may have made notes, and you were probably given a manual in a nice folder to take away.” He smiled. “But let me ask you this. How much of what you were taught did you actually implement after the training?”
It was Val’s turn to smile ruefully. “Not a lot, to be honest.”
“I’m not saying training isn’t useful, but it’s one-size-fits-all. The difference here is that the work we do together will be tailored to you and your situation.”
“We will start by analyzing what actually happens to you. That way you will understand what you do to yourself and how you create your own unwanted behavior.”
“Once you realize that you are the one making yourself uncomfortable, you will also realize that you can do the reverse. You can also make yourself be the way you would really like to be.”
“Then we’ll create a scenario of how you would like it to be.”
“Finally, we’ll work on transforming you so that you can behave as you would like to behave in different situations.”
“By working this way, you will actually own and have control of your new behavior.”
Val smiled. He had no idea how much she wanted with every fiber of her being for this to be true.
It only took three 1-hour coaching sessions for Val to learn how to transform her thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
After that, it was a matter of making herself practice whenever she felt herself hesitating.
Val credits those three coaching sessions with having transformed not just her career but also many other aspects of her life.
She is particularly proud of the fact that once she had learned how to create the changes she wanted she was able to do all the work herself.
The story you have just read is a true story from my case files, only the name of the client has been changed.
The 6-step process for changing an unwanted behavior to an empowering behavior
Analyze yourself when you feel stressed and notice what is happening in your body.
- Recognize that it is your thoughts that are creating the anxiety that is blocking you from behaving as you would like.
- Also, realize that if your thoughts can create feelings that can stop you from doing what you want they can also create feelings that will empower you to behave as you would like to behave.
- Create a scenario in your mind which would normally cause you anxiety. Now, quickly SWITCH the image in your mind of the way you see yourself behaving. If you initially saw yourself as anxious and stammering – SWITCH the image and see yourself as confident and speaking fluently.
- Notice the different feelings in your body when you feel confident. All you did was change the image in your mind and your feelings changed. Then you became free to speak as you would wish.
- Practice SWITCHING the images in your mind whenever you find yourself behaving in ways that you do not want to behave.
This post was previously published on I Wanna Be.
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