Want to go from feeling awful to feeling awesome about yourself? I’m talking about Project Awesome again today, which aims to help you do just that! In step 4 of this 5 step program, we're going to look into what unhelpful rules and assumptions we live by.
Life is full of rules and assumptions. Some are helpful ie don’t drink and drive. But these rules are usually learned formally or part of the law.
Unhelpful rules are learned informally – usually during or after a social situation we face. For example, you are in class and like to ask questions of the teacher a lot. Some students comment that you must be stupid because you ask so many questions. You learn from this that you shouldn’t ask questions or else people will think you are stupid. This is a rule you have learnt.
It is a negative rule because it a. isn’t true, b. is inflexible and c. makes you feel bad about yourself; If you ever feel you need to ask for help, you’re going to think it’s because you are stupid. However you stick to this rule so no one will think you’re stupid.
But do you see how that rule keeps your negative and low self esteem in place? And by keeping the rule, you never give yourself the chance to disprove the belief that you are stupid.
From here you not only don’t ask questions in class, meaning sometimes you don’t understand an assignment and therefore you under-perform (confirming that you are again, stupid), but you don’t ask questions in social situations either which can lead to making the wrong decisions within your life.
Other rules might include; the only person you can depend on is yourself. This came about when someone close to you let you down. But now you have a rule about not asking for help again, or refusing to depend on others so that the expectations you have of yourself – to go it alone – are sometimes hard to keep. When you fail, you feel bad about yourself.
Another rule could be – if you quit, you’ll never be successful. This is again inflexible and limiting. Sometimes, it’s okay to quit something – you can’t be great at everything you try.
Evaluate the rules you live by – the ones you’ve learned through experience that you’ve made for yourself. Are they accurate in every situation? Can you sometimes ask for help? How helpful are these rules to you?
CAN YOU REPLACE THEM WITH MORE FLEXIBLE AND HELPFUL RULES?
It’s time to get out your awesomeness journal and write down the old rules and how you plan to change them for new, more flexible and realistic rules.
So can 'I MUST NEVER ASK QUESTIONS' be changed to – I must listen really well in class, but if I still don’t understand something, I will talk to the teacher afterwards, or email the teacher, to ask for help.
And can you change the rule that IF YOU QUIT, YOU’LL NEVER BE SUCCESSFUL to – some things are important to work at and never quit – like school or studying for an exam - but what if you’re finding that piano practice is taking up a lot of time, you don’t enjoy it and you don’t want to play the piano as you’d rather be playing tennis as you’re really good at that and a little extra practice there will make all the difference at upcoming tournaments. Sometimes it IS okay to quit something.
Write your new rules down and keep reading them over so they start to become part of what you truly believe. You’ll find that you start to make more positive decisions in your life ie you’ll work on a project with someone, knowing that sometimes people let you down, but sometimes they can be really helpful and a new friendship can form. Or you’ll ask for help from a teacher and find that your grades improve because you understand something you hadn’t previously comprehended.
I hope step four really helps you. If you’d like to send in comments about how you are going with your Journal, or how you cope with low self-esteem, I’d love to hear from you.
The next blog is the final step in the process of going from feeling awful to feeling awesome.
Cya next week.