Emma’s problem is that for the next six weeks, she perceives that she will be extremely pressured at work. Two major projects have been delayed, causing all her deadlines to slip. Her clients are asking for extra support, she has a young family, budgets are tight; there seem to be no extra resources available. Whenever she thinks about what’s ahead, she feels it’s all too much. She wakes at 4am wondering how she’s going to cope. How can she love that?
What do you believe about your problem?
Emma believes that she has more work to do than there are days in the week with no extra resources to call on. Let’s summarise this as the belief ‘I can’t do all this work well’.
Can you absolutely know for sure that you can’t do all this work well?
Emma is pretty wedded to her belief. Yet when confronted, she can’t absolutely know that she can’t do the work, because the future hasn’t happened yet.
In what way do you know it isn’t true now?
Emma is already meeting some deadlines. Her clients are asking her to do more work, so she must be doing it well.
When you believe that thought, what happens?
When she thinks ‘I won’t be able to do all this work well’, Emma feels anxious, disempowered, gloomy. She gets impatient with her family; she doesn’t sleep properly. She drinks alcohol to relieve the pressure. The effect is that she doesn’t do anything all that well.
What would life be like if you didn’t have that thought?
Emma recognises she would be more energised, with more sleep, more patient in her interactions with her family, confident about her work and her success. She’d also be more honest about her needs from her family at this uniquely busy time.
What do you want to believe instead?
Emma has the work she has and the family she has (reality), and up until now has been believing ‘I can’t do all this well’. What else could she believe about reality that could also be true and valid? Well, Emma would love to believe that ‘I can do all this well’ (you can brainstorm a few until one feels right — usually it will be something like the opposite statement).
In how many ways do you know this is already true?
I asked Emma to think about three times in her life when she worried whether she would achieve something at which she ultimately succeeded. She cited an award-winning project, the birth of her daughter, and her climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. (In fact she realised she had many more examples.) I also asked her to consider how those experiences would have been if she had believed in her success up front. She recognised that she would have succeeded and enjoyed the journey along the way.
Finally, I asked Emma, Choose the belief that will empower you.
She can believe ‘I can do all this work well’, OR she can believe ‘I can’t do all this work well’. Both are beliefs. If she chooses the first, she feels more at peace with her family and more energised. If she chooses the latter, she feels tired, impatient, guilty and gloomy.
Emma authentically chose the belief that will most empower her life. You can too.
Emma saw that what she needs from her family is support, acknowledgement and space, and that the dramas she creates around work are a signal to her family to acknowledge her. Emma’s going to act by sharing with her family her belief that she will do her work well over the next six weeks, and explain from them she needs time, support and acknowledgement for that.
And there were other actions Emma could now see to take on her projects that moved her into the inner circle of control. Negotiate on certain deadlines, manage specific expectations with clients and set some clear priorities. (Now this may seem obvious to us reading now, but when Emma was wearing the dark glasses of the belief ‘I can’t do all this well” and feeling disempowered these actions were shaded from her view.)
Having found ways to LOVE and LEAD the situation, Emma realised she could find new ways of accepting it – of letting go of her resistance to reality and LEAVING it be. Emma can let go of her resentment to her clients for the project delays, and her regret at again finding herself under pressure.
Emma looked visibly less troubled by the end of the session. She will now anchor her new belief into her life, by reminding herself each day of her new belief and taking actions consistent with it.