As you might know, I coach women on how to love themselves inside and out
. In others words, to accept who they truly are and honoring that fully. This might seem like a simple concept, being yourself and LOVING it. But I’m here to say there are so many ways we can self-sabotage. We not only must be aware and work towards change but also take steps to continually explore our psyches and beliefs.
Recently, I had a coaching session dressed up like a fitness session. I thought I was going for a boxing session.I had no idea what would happen or what I would learn. I was prepared for some boxing, pushups but what came out of it was life coaching. Inside an exercise, I learned something about myself that was quite surprising.
I match the energy of others to feel accepted by them.
When I think about this further it comes up this way, I need others approval of me. Therefore, I become in sync with their energy, their wants, and needs without them asking or requiring it. I was surprised. I mean I get it for when I’m in social settings. To me, it seems to be easy to spot. But I found out, it’s also when I am being challenged by someone who is firing questions at me or a ball is coming my way. I want to prove that AM I GREAT at this, but I need to check in, “did I do it right?” Part competitive nature and part looking for approval, no matter how you label this and where it drives from I’m looking for LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. But here’s the thing I was NOT doing, listening to MYSELF and ultimately putting ME first!
The trainer saw this. Every time he started the exercise I would automatically match his intensity and speed. I would answer every question as fast as it came at me but often the speed would throw me off and I would fail. He remarked, “What do you do when someone is asking you a lot of questions and you aren’t ready?” I responded, “Usually I ask them to slow down.” Which hadn’t occurred to me that I was allowed to do? I felt like I was in a test environment, which I was, but no rules were laid out that I couldn’t ask for what I needed. In my own mind, I decided there were rules and this was a test of my ability and speed. The next round, picking up on my own advice, I did ask, once. He didn’t oblige for the following round. I felt exhausted to have to ask every time. I also wanted to keep up (competitive side). I was really in a fight with myself. One time we switched roles and it was my turn to fire questions. He told me to speed up in my asking but he would answer slowly. At the end, he asked me, “Were you the leader in this exercise?” Nope. I matched his energy again to be agreeable. Even when I was assigned the role as Leader, I didn’t hold that office. This also was surprising to me.
What made me follow him over recognizing my own authority in this exercise?
I am astounded at how many different ways this one lesson keeps showing me more. To choose yourself first and every time is a new habit I must constantly work on. Even what it feels exhausting. It is not enough to say I do in these types of situations. It is more powerful to do it no matter what.
This can be a difficult practice to walk alone because when we have a belief or habit that is so hidden from ourselves we can’t see it all the time. It takes practice, courage, awareness, and commitment to make those changes. But also support in making the change stick. Something he could see but I could not because it is so deeply held.
Here is what I use for myself, and my clients, allowing me to go even deeper in my life. I decided to rewire this “matching energy” belief into Standing up for myself. Here are some simple steps I’m using when I become aware that I’m not putting myself first – aka not standing up for myself.
- Become aware of it in the moment. Like in the session, he would speed up with his questions and I would answer at the same rate. Hence I’m matching the energy and not “standing up” for myself because I am not using my own energy.
- Rename the belief or behavior. My belief is: I must match the energy of the person to make them like me or be agreeable to them. I’m renaming it by saying, I must STAND UP for myself where I am matching another person’s energy.
- Use a question that feels right to you. Am I feeling rushed? Am I standing UP (holding my ground) for myself or getting my needs met? Acknowledging what I need first then ask.
- Take consistent action. For example, I could have kept asking for what I needed which was for him to slow down.
Steps 1 and 2 will take a little while before you find your action to move past it and be consistent. I would recommend to journal at the end of each day and find those places where you could, in my case, stand up more for yourself. Eventually, you will see how you need to ask more for yourself or the different way you can honor your best course forward. Then a magical change takes place and it becomes your new habit and belief.