Women are our own worst critics. It seems we’ve learnt that holding ourselves accountable is a necessary action that drives us forward. It’s called personal responsibility. Yes, we all need to take personal responsibility. However the way we go about it goes beyond personal responsibility and leads to self doubt. When the words we use lead to self doubt we have to go beneath the words to uncover what’s really going on. Then we empower ourselves to find words that replace them with that promote calm and confident living. Calm confident living starts with observing what we don’t currently observe.
Words of Obligation
Alan Seiler from Newfield Institute says these words are “The language of obligation”. They are words that oblige us. Here are some examples:
- “I must be…”
- “I must do…”
- “I should do…”
- “I should be…”
- I ought to do…”
- “I have to…”
- “I have to be…”
- “I need to do…”
- “I need to be…”
You get the gist?
Whatever way you look at it, these words hold you accountable for not measuring up. We use them in our private and sometimes public conversations. They hold us accountable to uphold certain standards. The intent of using them is to lead us either toward a desirable action or away from an undesirable action. The underlying message in the use of the words is that either we “need” to be more of something or do more of something, therefore to take actions toward being or doing more, or we “need” to be less of something or doing less of something, and therefore take actions to do or be less of something.
What if I told you the use of these words get in the way of you getting what you want, adds to self doubt, and makes you miserable? The number of women I see who struggle with confidence and live in self doubt tells me there is a big problem. I’ve written a blog on why women struggle to find purpose and direction where I refer to a study commissioned by Dove. This study shows some damning figures on the number of women who make comparisons and experience lack of confidence and self doubt. Sitting behind many of these words of obligation is the notion that you have to be something other than who you are. Perhaps you’re not willing to change, but you’ve made a judgment that you “should” change or you won’t measure up. You do this because you listen to messages laden with standards.
Negative Core Beliefs That Sit Beneath Obligation Words
We have core beliefs about ourselves. Everyone has them. Some are positive but many are negative such as…
- “I’m not good enough”
- “I’m not smart enough”
- “I’m not pretty enough”
- “I’m not skinny enough”
- “I’m a failure”
- “I’m lazy”
- “I’m not worthy”
- “I’m not enough”
Do you notice the central focus is on the word “I’m”? “I’m” is a dead give away of the personal characterisations we make. Some personal characterisations can be empowering. Many are not. The ones I’m referring to in this post are not. While we might believe words of obligation drive us forward, when sitting behind them are declarations of negative core beliefs – personal characterisations, words of obligation won’t make one bit of difference to the outcome we want. We have to address the core issue.
When do they surface?
They surface every time you’re worried about something, and whenever your attention is turned to something. The way advertising works these days is there any wonder we don’t measure up? We’re sucked into believing we have to pay attention to a particular message. That’s how advertising works.
How many times have you read about another woman’s success in dieting or body shape, becoming successful or anything that brings up a feeling of envy? The speed at which this takes place is beyond our comprehension. In a nanosecond your words of obligation conversation starts.
Underlying the comparison you quickly make is a judgment about who you fundamentally are. This is a problem and it’s understandable that we don’t observe we’re doing it. I feel indignant that for the last 40 or so years I’ve been sucked into messages. As a 50 + coach if I can get sucked in, is there any wonder young women get sucked in?
What Does Our Future Hold?
I’m worried about the future for women. I’m making it my personal mission to wake the world of women up to this. To bring this to the attention of women throughout the world.
Now before you go on using words of obligation to say I “should” stop thinking about myself this way. Don’t do that. Look a little deeper. Go beyond the obligation and explore the problem from a broader perspective.
Ask Yourself These Questions
“What’s going on that I’m saying I ‘should’ be doing or being a certain way?”
“How am I characterising myself here?”
“What am I listening to – what’s the message that I’m hooking into?”
“What do I want to do differently?”
As you observe what’s going on around you, in your immediate life, your community and globally, you will begin to see the wicked problem. In this moment you can start to let yourself off the hook. Be kind and patient with yourself as you listen in. All the comparisons in the world won’t make you be a certain kind of person. The only messages that are important to listen to are the ones that come from deep within and align to your own core values.
How Are You Interacting With The World?
How you perceive and interact with the world in part depends on the messages you hear and the words you speak. This way of being diagram demonstrates how your language is made up with speaking and listening. The words you use and the words you listen to in part determine how you interact with the world. They shape your emotions and feelings. Your emotions and feelings conversely shape your words. All that is embodied in a complex interrelationship which has you perceiving and interacting withe the world. This diagram demonstrates how you need to listen yourself and the world to begin to shift. When you do you’ll begin to interact differently to the things you hear and listen to.
A Word Of Encouragement
There’s nothing wrong with gathering helpful information from reliable sources and acting on that information to enrich and empower your life. But a lot of messages simply aren’t factual or simply don’t align to your core values. You hook into them because you’re searching for something outside of yourself to give you answers. Many are opinions and judgements with no basis. When we take treat these opinions and judgments as though they are facts, we feed back into our negative core beliefs that we simply are not good enough, and we certainly don’t measure up to the standard.
You’re okay ask you are. If you want to develop self esteem and confidence, if you want to get rid of self doubt and negative core beliefs you can. Start right here by listening to what’s going on beneath and outside the words of obligation, and you’ll soon start to realise the messages are a farce and that you’ve got this life, just as you are.
PS. You are enough just as you are, I know that, and I hope that you know that. If you’re having trouble believing it, why not jump into my community BE YOUR OWN HERO. where I can help you truly shift from self-doubt to calm, confident living.
I wish the best of care for you this day and every day.
Do you have any questions? Comments? Insights? I’m here to listen! Let’s chat below.
P.S. I also have a Facebook page where I’d love to chat with you and answer your questions! Click here and like my page.