Easy Tools to Completely Thwart Yourself

Are you cutting yourself down before you’ve even had a chance to develop your genius?

Every year, I grow a container garden on the balcony. This process begins in the second half of the winter, when I start cultivating from seed on the windowsill. It’s always so exciting to see the first hints of tiny hair-like sprouts that don’t look much different from the soil, initially. As the days go by, the little hairs become more obvious sprouts. These sprouts needs lots of care to ensure they get just the right volume of water and light. The sprouts are not resilient at that stage. Even after the sprouts grow into seedlings, they need to go through a “hardening” process to get used to being outdoors before I can actually plant them on the balcony.

The post on how to start developing your intuition mentions the importance of really listening to yourself and making a conscious note of thoughts, ideas and senses that arise within you throughout the day. Sounds simple enough, and really, it is.

Except that most of us have learned this really nasty habit of dismissing ourselves and our intuitions the moment they occur. It would be like trampling on the tiny sprouts in my windowsill before they have a chance to even become seedlings, let alone full grown plants.

We give ourselves lots of reasons for this. Pay attention to the following common objections, and see if you can detect the underpinning thread to them all.

  • Intuition really isn’t something that most people have so I probably don’t have it.
  • I’m judging a book by its cover if I pay attention to an intuition of discomfort inside me and it’s not nice to do that so I’ll just forget it.
  • There’s no material way I could possibly know the information that pops into my head, therefore it’s just my imagination.
  • Having intuition and mysterious insight is a nice fantasy, but this is the real world and if I pay attention to every idea that pops into my head I’ll go crazy.
  • If I get information from sources I can’t see, then it means I’m crazy or people will think I’m crazy.

Did you notice it? The undercurrent is fear. And really, why does it matter how many people have intuitive ability? Why does that mean you can’t possibly have that ability? Because you’re afraid to be let down, that maybe you don’t have the ability, or conversely, you’re afraid about what it means if you do?

That it might mean that either you have to modify your belief system, or that you might have your hopes raised and then crushed, so why did you even try? That you’ll be rejected by the people around you? Maybe you’re not convinced that it’s fear. Maybe you think it’s because modern science knows better. And yet you and I are still here and having this conversation.

Another post will address fear, since none of us is immune to it, and no matter how ballsy we may be, it’s likely that fear is informing parts of our internal lives. But that’s not this post. This post is all about curtailing the internal dismissiveness that is crushing your abilities before they can become skills.

Where I learned about self-dismissal

As a reflective person in general, and through counselling with professional therapists, I realized many years ago that I was incredibly, cruelly hard on myself.

  • Part of it was informed by the fear I mentioned above that is a highly common undercurrent for many of us (even if you had a nurturing and loving upbringing).
  • Part of it was just my perpetuating invalidation that other people had directed at me over the years.

When I wanted to start developing my intuition, the advice that was given to me was to acknowledge whenever I received an intuition (see my post on intuition). However, I noticed that it was really easy to start dismissing intuitions I received. Writing them off as something else.

  • I realized the self-dismissal was no longer serving me, and I also realized that I could both be uncertain about what it meant to receive an intuition, while also not dismissing it (just like we can both push ourselves, and be compassionate to ourselves simultaneously).
  • I used my regular reflective/journaling practice to release this unhelpful force of habit.

How to begin curtailing the habit of cutting yourself down

Step 1: Catch yourself in the act of dismissing yourself

  • But just notice. Observe. Don’t make a judgement or decision about any of it yet. Don’t be hard on yourself for being dismissive. Just notice.
    • This step sounds simple enough, and like many of the tools we discuss in this forum, it is simple. It’s possible there’s a lot of volume, though. You may be dismissing yourself all day, or at least regularly throughout the day. So just this step of catching yourself dismissing your intuitions and thoughts will take some practice.

Step 2: As you continue to observe when you dismiss yourself, make a mental note of how you dismiss yourself

  • Are there any patterns?
    • Do you tend to dismiss yourself with a common theme? For example, “stop being so emotional.” or “That’s not nice.”
    • Do you dismiss yourself in specific kinds of situations? Such as, do you tend to dismiss yourself more frequently around specific people? Or maybe you find yourself being more self-dismissive at home compared to work?
    • Do these dismissals remind you of anything or anyone? Just notice if anyone or anything comes to mind. You don’t need to do anything with that yet. No need to follow that rabbit hole yet. Just observe.

Do these two steps for the next couple of days as your homework. You don’t need to do anything further with it yet if you don’t want to. You can always meditate or reflect on these observations if you feel like it, but for now the most important thing is to start to notice when you’re being self-dismissive (just like we did for the post on learning to enhance your intuition).

In the next post, we’ll pick back up with some next steps. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions about this initial process. You can do it!

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