Beyond Willpower: Finding an Ally

Beyond Willpower: Looking for an Ally
Sylvia Atkins came to life coaching looking for an ally.

With a year of dedicated planning behind her, Sylvia thought she’d covered everything she needed for launching her new business. She had a clear vision of how it was going to develop and the direction it would grow. She had strong networks of potential customers, partners and service providers. She had simple, manageable processes for keeping her business running smoothly on a day-by-day basis. Most of all, Sylvia had an enviable track record developing and delivering innovative projects for well-know clients like Linen Chest, L’Oréal and BF Goodrich.

There was just one element missing: her own conviction that she could make it happen.

“I found myself stopped dead in my tracks by a flood of self-doubt. Who did I think I was? How could I have ever taken on something so risky?” Sylvia’s response to this kind of negative self-talk was to fight back and tough it out. “I saw it as a matter of willpower – I wanted to just cut through that voice and get on with my work.” Unfortunately the negative thoughts were only getting stronger and Sylvia’s resolve increasingly overwhelmed. It was time for a new approach.

“When Robert asked me how I would rather be working, I imagined the power and inspiration I’d have if I were able to have a strong, positive voice inside me instead. A voice that could keep me grounded, focused and productive. We did a short visualization exercise together. That’s when I first met my African Dancer – a fierce and joyful warrior full of crazy, unstoppable energy – I could call upon for help whenever I found myself starting to go off track.

Willpower, Awareness, Knowledge & Language
Curious to find out more about different approaches for handling self-doubt and negative self-talk?  You might like to check out Willpower, Awareness, Knowledge & Language: 4 Paths to Self-Management.

After a number of months working with her African Dancer, Sylvia was ready to start dealing with her inner critic directly. Using the approach outlined in Love Your Caustic Self-Talk in 3 Easy Steps, Sylvia began to greet her negative self-talk with curiosity, helping it to spell out specific, actionable challenges that they could work on together.

“When I first met my inner critic, I realized that it wasn’t the big scary monster I’d first imagined. It was really just a frightened baby doing everything it could to get my attention. I picked her up in my arms, gave her a name and went from there. The amazing thing is that, as I learned to work with her, this little baby began to grow, first into a young girl then into a precocious teenager. And her ability to articulate her needs and work with me grew too.”

Today Sylvia’s inner critic has grown into a young adult capable of pointing out potential trouble spots and proposing potential solutions. Rather than fighting inner battles, Sylvia is, for the first time, developing a relationship with that other side of herself, learning to overcome her fears and pain – and build compassion for herself. “It’s not simple or easy – more of a learning process. It’s a whole new beginning.” Through life coaching, Sylvia found exactly the ally she wanted to start moving ahead in the way she wanted – herself.