When the Voice Saying ‘You Suck’ is Yours

We have a big problem people.  I say “we” because even if you aren’t afflicted with this deficiency, I guarantee that you’re affected by someone who is.  Someone lacking in this vital element is missing out on a happy, healthy and hopeful life.  This element is Confidence.  Not the “fake it til you make it” kind.  I mean the true, “I’m flawed, but I’m awesome” kind.

Every human being deserves to feel confident, happy, healthy and hopeful!  There are two main types of Confidence Deficiencies.  There are the Self- Saboteurs who I’ll discuss this week and the Secret Keepers who I’ll discuss next week.   I will list the most common symptoms each type possesses to help you better identify if you or someone you know suffers from a Deficiency.

The Self-Saboteurs are very easy to spot and are less of a threat to others.   They are, however, a significant threat to themselves.  The most common symptoms include: negative comments about self to others, self-pity, and over-explaining decisions made in anticipation of another’s criticism.  They frequently use sentences that include, “I’m too…” or “I don’t…”  Here are some examples:

  •  When asked to go to the beach, Self-Saboteur will reply, “No thanks, I get too many autograph requests from people thinking I was the whale in ‘Free Willy’!” (Often said with a chuckle or smile).
  •  When a friend suggests they apply for a great job, Self-Saboteur will reply, “I’d love that job, but I don’t have the formal education I’ll bet the other applicants do.”
  •  When a co-worker says, “Hey Lisa, thanks for that report…” Self-Saboteur may interrupt by saying, “I’m sorry it took so long, but I’m a total tool when it comes to that software…”

This negative speak continually reinforces how much they suck.  They have convinced themselves that they are just saying out loud what the other person is thinking.  While self-deprecating humor can be funny and show humility, these folks take it to the extreme.  It’s bad enough when you have to be around Mean Girls or Mean Guys, but to have one living in your head, speaking in your own voice…Oy vey!

Self-Saboteurs create their own self-fulfilling prophecies.  They give others permission to criticize, demean and view them as less valuable and less deserving of good things.  Unfortunately, some people will take them up on this offer.  Self-Saboteurs may find their personal relationships verbally or physically abusive, or they so exhaust their partner and friends, that eventually those people bow out of the relationship.  At work, Self-Saboteurs may sabotage their own career growth as they make statements that make others doubt their ability to do more.  Often times, these people battle depression and/or addiction.

So what’s the remedy?  If you can identify with being a Self-Saboteur, then you have to start by being nice to yourself.  When coaching Self-Saboteurs, I often have them start each day with a sentence that begins with, “I am awesome at ____________”.  No repeating sentences, it must be posted somewhere visible throughout the day and it must be done every day for 30 days.

If you know a Self-Saboteur and want to help them, try to stop them in their tracks.  I’ve found it effective to frown at their self-loathing and sternly say, “That’s not very nice!”   You could follow that up with a sincere compliment.  For instance, if a visibly overweight Self-Saboteur say’s “I’m a big fatty”, don’t reply with “I think you’re skinny”, but if you sincerely think their curves are beautiful, say so.  You could also follow up your statement by saying “I don’t like when you put yourself down like that, because I think you’re a nicer person than that.”

Remember, these people didn’t become deficient overnight, so it will take time to get them to start viewing their positive qualities.  Continue discouraging their mean talk and take the time to point out their positive qualities as you see them.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this I know a great life coach who would be happy to help 😉

I’d love to hear your comments on this topic, so please share your perspective below.  Stay tuned for next week’s Secret Keeper symptoms and remedies!

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