Deanna Rodrigue, Life & Career Coach on Cyno
I used to put an inordinate amount of energy into meeting the expectations of others. This caused me to downplay or hold back my unique ideas. It also created a pattern of second guessing myself which affected my self confidence.
Are you giving too much energy to thinking, saying or doing what others expect instead of believing in, and expressing, your own opinion, thoughts or ideas?
For example, you have a great idea to share in a meeting or an opposing opinion to state in a challenging discussion. You start thinking about what others might think about your idea or opinion. You then doubt yourself to the point of changing what you were going to say or not saying it at all. This hesitation could be negatively impacting yourself and your career.
When you hold back your truth, you ignore a part of yourself that is needed to reach your full potential. This hinders your contribution to your team and company, and your personal growth. Fortunately, these habits are amenable to change if you are willing to do a little inner work. In this blog, I’ll provide you with 5 steps to begin this shift.
There are many advantages to sharing your thoughts, ideas and opinions. When you share more of your authentic self, you build confidence and trust in yourself. You believe more deeply in the value you bring and the impact you can have. You feel more motivated and inspired to contribute even further which helps move the work of your organization forward. It can also expand your potential for future opportunities.
It’s a unique journey for each of us, but I’ve noticed with clients and through my own experience, that behind our confidence and ability to speak our truth, is our mindsets. Our mindsets either hold us back or propel us forward.
Growth or fixed mindset?
Although there are several mindsets that have been defined by researchers (abundance, scarcity, positive, etc.), I find most people can generally relate to the growth and fixed mindsets. With a fixed mindset, we tend to believe that our mistakes define us, that feedback is criticism, and our intelligence is fixed. With a growth mindset, we tend to believe mistakes are part of learning, we embrace challenges and view feedback as important to build our skills and knowledge. In general, a healthy (or positive) mindset is key to reaching our full potential and feeling successful in our career and life.
With each event in our life, an emotional memory is created, to which we attach meaning. The meaning we make forms our beliefs which shape our attitudes and mindsets, which then influences our decisions, actions and ultimately the outcome. This can be seen more clearly in the image below.
(Source: content sourced from Canada Coach Academy (with additions: “Actions are taken” and “Outcomes”)
Over time, behavioral patterns are developed and become the default of which we operate. As a key part of this operating system, our mindset determines the road we go down, and it can be entirely different with a negative or positive mindset.
Can you see how important it is to be an active participant in this process? Similar to going to the gym to build physical muscle, it’s equally important to strengthen the mind muscle. It doesn’t require much time and if you’re consistent, you’ll create new patterns of positive behavior that will lead to greater satisfaction and fulfillment in your career and in other areas of life.
5 Steps to becoming more satisfied in your career.
Are you ready to put this into practice and build some mind muscle? Begin by taking a few breaths and free yourself of distractions. You might take notes so you can easily flow from one step to the next. I invite you to be open and curious with this exercise. Whatever experience you have is just right. Try to leave behind any judgement or expectations and have fun with it!
Choose a situation where you find yourself focusing on what others expect and where you are holding back your opinions or ideas. It may be a past situation, currently happening or an upcoming work situation that you want to prepare for.
1. Stop and Notice
Taking time to pause, even for a few minutes, gives you the space to strengthen your awareness, find clarity, and be intentional with your next steps.
Start by becoming aware of your breath by following your inhale and exhale with great detail. Take 10 slow and steady breaths and notice the rise and fall of your chest, the sound of your breath or any other detail that arises naturally for you.
Thinking about the situation you chose, notice your thoughts without trying to explain them. Just observe.
As you reflect on this situation, tune into your body and physical sensations.
Become aware of any emotions that arise.
Notice your inner-voice and whether that voice is determining right from wrong. Observe any judgement you might have of this experience, judgement of yourself or of others. Allow yourself to let go of any judgement.
2. Get Curious
It’s human nature to label something right or wrong, however, this type of judgement can prevent us from being open to other perspectives. It can also limit our curiosity which is an emotion that helps us acquire knowledge and feel pleasure.
Continuing from the first step, get curious about your thoughts and mindset. You might ask:
What are these thoughts about?
What is my inner-voice saying about this situation?
Are these thoughts reality or not?
How are these thoughts affecting my action(s)?
What can I learn from these thoughts?
Continue with any questions that arise for you.
3. Choose your Mindset
Mindsets are an established set of attitudes and beliefs that we develop based on past experiences. Being aware of your mindset is powerful. With awareness, you can notice your place along the mindset continuum e.g., Growth to Fixed. You can then make a conscious effort to shift your mindset if it’s not serving you well. This takes practice, however, it’s necessary for personal growth and to be more effective in your job.
Continuing from Step 2, what belief or attitude do you have about this situation, or of yourself or others in this situation?
Recognize one thing that you want to change about this mindset.
What will be different when you make this change?
What is one step you can take toward this positive change?
Our mindsets can be quite fixed or inflexible so take a deep breath and have compassion for yourself as you experiment with this change. There are many great tools to support you in shifting mindsets, such as yoga and meditation, or working with a professional coach.
4. Move toward your truth
When you let go of meeting the expectations of others, you can relax and be yourself. You can bring your unique value forward which is most likely what others want anyway; especially in a work environment since you were hired for your unique abilities, knowledge and expertise. When you align to your truth, you can make decisions and choices that support you. When I made this shift, I felt empowered to self direct my career with greater confidence. I noticed people were more receptive to my ideas, I was able to influence others and contribute to moving the dialogue forward. It's important to consider, that factors outside of our control may influence our ability to speak our truth and share our ideas freely, such as organization culture. If you don’t feel safe to share your ideas and thoughts, you may need to assess if it’s the right environment for you.
Continuing from Step 3, imagine taking that one step forward with the new positive mindset and visualize the outcome. For example, you could imagine sharing your ideas fully in a meeting or stating your opposing view, without worrying what others think. Then imagine the positive outcomes that could result.
Take some time to notice how you feel. Perhaps you feel more confident, lighter, relieved, or empowered to put this new mindset into action.
Make it physical – we manifest our emotions and thoughts in our bodies. If we move, even for a few seconds, we shift the energy, release tension and find clarity in our mind. Give it a try. Stand up, breathe, stretch, or walk with attention to your senses.
If speaking your truth seems too risky or uncomfortable, you can start by sharing it with someone you trust like a friend or co-worker, journal it, visualize it and then take the leap, if it feels true for you.
5. Who are you at the core?
If your immediate reaction to this question is something like…. “Woah, this is too deep” or “How do I answer this?”. It’s perfectly ok. It’s a big question but it’s important to know yourself to access your truth and bring your best self forward. There are many layers to self exploration, but again, you can start right where you are and keep it light.
Picking up from step 4, as you reflect on your chosen situation, imagine nothing was holding you back, how would you want to show up in that situation? What feels true to you?
A great way to get to know yourself, is to reflect on your core values. Core values are a set of ethics, morals and beliefs that influence your life. One way to determine your core values is to ask “What am I absolutely not willing to compromise on?” As an example, a few of my core values are truth, freedom and exploration.
You can also take time to be still and then ask the question “Who am I?”. Use your curiosity and non-judgement to explore the answer.
By recreating or re-imagining situations to have the outcome we desire, we strengthen our mind's muscle and improve the likelihood of responding this way in future.
I hope you find time in each day to stop, notice, get curious and take one small step toward your truth with a positive mindset. As you practice over time, new habits are likely to develop that will make it easier to bring this awareness and approach into the moment, as situations arise.