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Are You Disqualifying Yourself

Can you think of a time when you told yourself that you could not achieve, become, or possess something? This limiting belief often stems from deep-seated thoughts and patterns.

 

In psychology, there is a concept known as The Core Belief Cycle, where our thoughts influence our feelings, which then guide our actions (or inaction), and these actions shape our experiences, reinforcing our beliefs. You might believe that you cannot achieve something, but what evidence do you have that this belief is unequivocally true?

 

What I suspect for most, if not all of you reading this, is that you will be quick to provide a list of things that disqualify you from being, doing, or having something, but you cannot provide irrefutable evidence that this thought or belief is true.

 

I recently attended GrowthDay Live in Austin, where I had the pleasure and privilege of sharing space and time with Ed Mylett. If you aren’t familiar with Ed and his podcast, I highly recommend you get acquainted. There was a particular statement he made that I found profound:

“We often disqualify ourselves because of our past, our imperfections, and the things we are ashamed and embarrassed about.”

We think about these things, attaching meaning to them to the point where we create a belief system that influences our entire life experience, our experience of self – whom we think we are, whom we think we can be, what we think we can do, and what we think we can have.

 

We are living in an era of ‘consumption,’ where the average user spends 2.5 hours on social media a day, exposed to the infinite highlight reels of others, more often than not feeding a vicious cycle of comparison and judgment where those thoughts become conditioned beliefs about themselves, beliefs that you use to disqualify yourself from being the person you want to be, living the life you want to have, and doing the things you desire to do.

 

I’ll share a personal example. When I started my business Laurintium, I struggled for the longest time to show up online and put myself out there. I convinced myself that I didn’t know enough, that if I hadn’t achieved or experienced what my ideal clients had, I couldn’t help them, and that I wasn’t a coach because I didn’t have an ICF certification. My biggest fear was that someone would call me out and that I would be revealed as a fraud. So for the longest time, I hid away, paralyzed by fear, and disqualified myself from doing something that I had this inner knowing I was meant to do and that I loved to do.

 

Many people both within my personal network and in my wider professional network tried to convince me that I was good at what I do, that I was valid and qualified, but my disqualifying beliefs and thoughts were persistent. Just as I started to shift them, and garnered some confidence within myself, my worst fear happened. A fellow coach decimated me, disqualifying me publicly because I didn’t have an ICF certification, I didn’t have the same training as they did, and I didn’t coach how they believed coaching should be done. This one experience validated the narrative that I had created and my disqualifying thoughts and beliefs. Was this narrative, this belief and thought true? No. There was plenty of evidence to the contrary, but in that moment, I experienced it to be true.

 

Here is what Ed said next:

“It is the things that we are most ashamed/embarrassed by, our biggest mistakes and sins that QUALIFY us.”

I am yet to meet a person or client who doesn’t have something in their past that they are not ashamed about, embarrassed by, or believe to be a mistake or a sin that indefinitely disqualifies them. Yet the meaning attributed to these things is self-manufactured, and through coaching, it is often revealed that it is in these places of shame, embarrassment, guilt, sin, and mistake that lie a gift/s that you otherwise would not have.

 

In my case, my worst fear coming true at the hands of a colleague gave me the opportunity to work through my irrational fear-based thinking (with the help of my own coaches, both certified and non-certified), and examine where I was disqualifying myself, without having irrefutable evidence to support my thinking. If I looked at the facts and the facts only:

 

I had 10+ years of experience working in diverse environments and contexts, all of which involved coaching people through change and transformation, at the individual, team, and organizational levels. I had a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Psychology, which equipped me with an intimate understanding of the human brain and behavior and honed my ability to listen, ask powerful questions, critically evaluate information, act ethically, and understand mental health and trauma more intimately than most coaching training programs provide, amongst other things. I had invested thousands of dollars in completing professional development courses, including training under Shirzad Chamine, the pioneer of Positive Intelligence, WBECS, and The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership. I had both certified and non-certified coaches and clients who attested to my abilities through their feedback and testimonials.

 

I’ll write another article sharing my thoughts on Certified vs. Non-Certified Coaches, but the very experience of being invalidated, which I harbored a great deal of embarrassment around, is the very thing that made me a better coach. It revealed gifts of incredible instincts, vulnerability, humility, empathy, and the ability to reflect and discern that I wasn’t aware of, valuing, or leveraging (all things that lend themselves toward coaching, counseling, mentoring, and advising). If I ignored the facts and let my core belief cycle be based upon that one experience, I would still be hiding away, playing small and ignorant to how every experience in my life has happened FOR me, not to me, and are not what DISQUALIFIES but QUALIFIES me, providing I am willing to be vulnerable and have the courage to step up, to try, to take action, to learn, to grow, and most importantly to serve.

 

So I encourage you the next time you find yourself thinking or believing that you aren’t x,y,z or need a,b,c, compare yourself to others and their highlight reels and disqualify yourself because of your past experiences, mistakes, regrets, sins and so on. STOP. Take a minute. Breathe. Lean into the energy of being curious and I invite you to complete the following exercise:

I’d love to hear about your commitments and celebrate your actions. Please share them in the comments!

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