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In my last blog, I addressed how Thoughts, Actions, and Emotions are the core components to success (however you choose to define it). This follows the words of the founder of the school of Individual Psychology, psychotherapist Alfred Adler, M.D, who said, “We cannot think, feel, will, or act without the perception of some goal.”
Essentially, we, as human beings, tend to be driven by three natural motivations:
- Rewards (including Recognition)
- Fear (or avoidance of pain and danger; conversely, survival)
You’ve probably already heard how “FEAR” represents “False Events Appearing Real,” and, yet, perception is reality; therefore, we must address fear(s) for the sake of intrapersonal development, efficacy, and the ability to influence others. So, while peers and colleagues, &/or yourself, may vie for value contribution in the workplace (namely, the first motivator noted above), it is critical to also be aware of how much fear is present and how it is driving the culture of your team, department, or organization.
Our nearly daily challenge is to face behavior in four common areas and examine how they reduce our ability to be effective in the larger system, i.e. the organization. These four areas are known as the “Four Fatal Fears,” a term coined by psychologist Maxie Maultsby. We may experience all four fears, however, there is usually one or two that tend to dominate our lifestyle, thereby interfering with how we show up at work.
FOUR FATAL FEARS
|Fear: Fear of Being Wrong
Associated Need: Being Right
How it shows up: argumentative, arrogant
What you avoid: where you could fail or make mistakes
|Fear: Fear of Losing
Associated Need: Need to Win
How it shows up: tend to see things as win-lose, competitive – could be ruthless
What you avoid: situations where you could lose
|Fear: Fear of Rejection
Associated Need: To Be Liked/Accepted
How it shows up: challenge, accommodating, ingratiating yourself to people, indirectness, white lies
What you avoid: conflict, challenging the group, avoiding people who are different, honesty
|Fear: Fear of Emotional Discomfort
Associated Need: To Be in Control of Emotions
How it shows up: stoicism, avoiding feelings of guilt, anger, intimacy, sharing embarrassment, stonewalling, blame
What you avoid: situations where authenticity is needed, all emotional situations, conflict
FEAR of being WRONG. There is a Need to be Right. The self-talk (i.e. Thought) that emerges from this fear typically revolves around themes of intelligence. Examples include, “I’m so stupid. How could I have made such an idiotic mistake?!” These thoughts probably stem from the learned behavior of lowered self-worth (i.e. Emotions) due to strong criticism. The behavior (i.e. Actions) that manifests typically includes strong self-assurance (functional behavior that may be misperceived by others) and attempts to prove others wrong (dysfunctional behavior that is a subconscious attempt to preserve one’s identity). This also includes withholding of information for fear of making a mistake. Professions generally include scientists, academics, R&D, doctors, and analysts.
FEAR of being LOSING. There is a Need to Win. The self-talk (i.e. Thought) that emerges from this fear typically revolves around themes of competition. Examples include, “I am a total loser. Put the ‘L’ on my forehead.” These thoughts probably stem from the learned behavior of lowered self-worth (i.e. Emotions) due to not having achieved the top recognition. The behavior (i.e. Action) that manifests typically includes heightened energy (functional behavior that may be misperceived by others) and aggression at winning at all costs (dysfunctional behavior that is a subconscious attempt to preserve one’s identity). This includes behavior of purposely un-filling a professional request made privately and then publicly broadcasting an incompletion of your “dropping of the ball” to the team. Professions generally include sports coaches & athletes, CEO’s, salespeople, and marketing.
FEAR of REJECTION. There is a Need to be Accepted. The self-talk (i.e. Thought) that emerges from this fear typically revolves around themes of collectivism. Examples include, “I am such a reject. Nobody wants me; nobody wants to be with me.” These thoughts probably stem from the learned behavior of lowered self-worth (i.e. Emotions) due to feeling left out of a group &/or teased. The behavior (i.e. Action) that manifests typically includes the ability to adapt in order to appeal and assist (functional behavior that may be misperceived by others) and emotional manipulation through immediate acquiescence, appeasement, &/or self-victimizing/martyrdom (dysfunctional behavior that is a subconscious attempt to preserve one’s identity). This includes “inner-circle” glances and alliances to form against the “villain” or perpetrator. Professions generally include nursing, teaching/training, non-profits, and counselors.
FEAR of EMOTIONAL DISCOMFORT. There is a Need to be Emotionally Comfortable. The self-talk (i.e. Thought) that emerges from this fear typically revolves around themes of control and stability. Examples include, “I feel so uncomfortable, anxious, nervous. I can’t stand feeling this way!” These thoughts probably stem from the learned behavior of an environment either devoid of emotion or one where the adult as a child was unable to develop coping mechanisms to handle the intensity of emotion. The behavior (i.e. Action) that manifests typically includes even-temperedness (functional behavior that may be misperceived by others) and blame &/or self-victimization (dysfunctional behavior that is a subconscious attempt to preserve one’s identity). This includes complaints of being unduly, negatively influenced. Professions generally include independent contractors, consultants, CEO’s, and accountants.
There is a lot of self-justification that is practiced in situations that trigger fear-based reactions, typically, because your experience has taught you that you need to protect yourself. It is a natural response. There is no sense in flaying yourself for your behavior. Rather, recognize where your past experience(s) may cause you to be presently ineffective and actively work on selecting strategically effective responses.
And, if your behavior is functional, others may respond negatively to you due to their fear, their perception. It is not you. However, it is what you represent. When someone projects his/her anger onto you, remember it is really a reaction to a trigger that has its origin in the past.
Face your fears. Live Fully.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership & Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. CorporateLookingGlass.com. Note: Much of the data used for this blog is empirical and is used in the context of broad generalizations.
Dr. Alfred Adler, The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology, (Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation, 1998).
Dr. Maxie Maultsby, Rational Behavioral Therapy, (Appleton, Wisconsin: I’ACT, 1984).
Ergo Sum: Practicing Healthy Self-Talk
(Sequel to Video: Who Peed on Your Seed?)
In my video segment, I addressed how we each have a purpose to fulfill in life. Many of us receive the impetus of “negative ingredients” that can lead to either productive (&/or counterproductive) results. It is a combination of an “I think I can” attitude with an “I will achieve” behavior, and a “This makes me happy” sentiment. Thoughts, Actions, Emotions. These are the lifestyle choices we can each make.
There are several examples of well-known individuals who have practiced this lifestyle choice of believing they can be more, among which include the following:
Sir Winston Churchill, the PM who kept England afloat during WWII strictly on the strength of his brilliant oratory, was at the bottom of his class in one school and failed the entrance exams to another.
Beethoven had a teacher who called him a “hopeless dunce.”
Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity changed the scientific world. He performed badly in almost all of his high school courses and even flunked his college entrance exams! He couldn’t speak until he was almost 4 yrs old and his teachers said, “He will never amount to much.” Post-college, he was denied a teaching post.
Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but also struck out 1,330 times.
Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for TV.”
Here are some more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u4yVkyPIdo
So, I dedicate this blog on Self-Talk a good friend who upon having viewed my video, remarked, “What’s next…Who Pooped on Your Stoop??” Well, in a sense, yes. David Stoop, author of Self Talk: Key to Personal Growth, wrote, “Your self-talk is a powerful force in your life.” This blog is about conquering self-defeating behavior and getting you back on the road to success, which begins with your emotions and thoughts.
Your self-talk never stops. The key to success (however you define it) is to practice healthy self-talk, the kind that will lead you to reaching your goals and desires; not the self-sabotage or self-fulfilling prophecy kind.
According to professional counselors Dr. Kevin Leman and Randy Carlson, most people speak aloud at the rate of 150-200 words per minute, but research suggests that you can talk privately to yourself by thinking at rates of up to 1,300 words per minute. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is, “This is the way I am, so I can’t change,” or “I was born this way.” The truth is you can gain control of your thoughts and change them! Your perceptions affect your thoughts, which, in turn, impact your behaviors, and those behaviors are unlikely apt to lead you to success.
One way to initiate the road towards effectiveness is to reconstruct your perception of the past and develop a healthier adult outlook on life today. This is not to say that we must practice “historical revisionism,” à la Robert Redford; it is to choose to focus on the positive that also exists. And, as Oprah Winfrey said, “If you live in the past and allow the past to define who you are, then you never grow.”
You essentially have two choices:
- DWELL- Carry the grudge, fight, be the victim/martyr, keep opening your own wounds and those of others; or,
- ACCEPT- Accept it for what it was and move on. There is no need to struggle with something that is working against you.
“It’s not that easy to ‘Accept’!” Well, try your ABC’s…
Accept that your memory has a downside to it; AND, that you survived. The key to letting go is acceptance. (NOTE: This does not necessarily mean forgive or forget). Concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl recognized this fact that the one thing which no one can take away from you is the power of your thoughts.
Believe that that experience took place for a reason, which was to strengthen and prepare. This preparation can be to showcase your talents/skills or to serve as a source of strength/role modeling for someone else. Let go of the past so that you can get on with your future. The past was a lesson to prepare for the future; today is a gift, which is why it is called the “present.”
Change your behavior by using different self-talk. What you remember does not have to be reality for you today. Rewrite your memories by changing your perceptions. Focus not what you will have; practice the emotion and thoughts of what you want in the moment! This is the trick, Zedi mind-trick yourself!
Changing your self-talk for the better will change the way you act, communicate, and feel. Thus, choose wisely. Choose to be happy.
Here is a 25-second scene from The Help, where the maid helps her charge learn to practice healthy self-talk, since her mother is tough on the little girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H50llsHm3k
Don’t allow people to “box” you in…Be like Albert Einstein, think outside the box!
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. CorporateLookingGlass.com.
Dr. Kevin Leman & Randy Carlson, Unlocking the Secrets, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1989).
Hugh Missildine, Your Inner Child of the Past, (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1963), 56.
David Stoop, Self Talk: Key to Personal Growth, (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1981), 33-46.
Robert Waldron, Oprah! (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987), 36.