• Sally Gutteridge

Dog People - How Healthy Is Your Self-Belief?

We dog people are inherently hard on ourselves. We in particular struggle to focus on our strengths and we may even believe we don’t actually have any, which is madness born of low self-belief. This part of your resilience toolkit is directly related to the monkey mind. You may be visited regularly by the whispering voice telling you that you can’t do it, you are not good enough or that everyone else is better than you.

Lack of self-belief comes directly from early learning. We are particularly tender young things for the first few years of our lives and we related everything that happens back to ourselves and what we were doing at the time. Being self-focussed (not selfish) is part of our learning and development on earth.

The self-focus of youth is totally natural and can be helpful or detrimental. We didn’t know back then that one of our parents abandoned us because of their faults not ours. We were not aware that unhappiness in the adults around us was due not to us, but to other things. In extreme cases such as abuse, children feel like it’s their fault and the abusive adult often reinforces that feeling to protect themselves. The result of taking responsibility for the bad things during childhood is that we become adults who we think cause bad things. Sally Gutteridge We can take responsibility and learn that anything we do get right is nothing much to celebrate either, all based on early experiences. Something simple like emotional coolness and high expectations can cause low self-belief that whispers from the side lines of life forever.

Everyone’s learning is different and an amalgamation of lessons we have discussed so far. If we could look at the life of one individual through a series of learning experiences, we might get a fair idea of how they cope, but there are so many variables that it wouldn’t be detailed.

If we suffer with low self-belief we often give up on things easily. We might start a new hobby, buy a variety of tools, not get it right first time and sell everything on Ebay. We may not go for a promotion, avoid following our dreams or starting a diet and exercise regime, or a study path over and over again, only to stop a few days later, furthering our idea that we can’t do anything useful at all.

There’s something fascinating about beliefs, regardless of whether they are the beliefs we hold about ourselves, others or the world around us, The first belief we form is at risk of becoming our most powerful truth on the matter. So if we form strong beliefs about ourselves before we reach the age of seven, it not only becomes our truth, but we spend the rest of our lives gathering evidence to support that belief. If we don’t learn something better and different from our first belief before we reach twenty years old, our first experience of that new knowledge is at risk of becoming our truth.Sally Gutteridge

An excellent example of this is the widespread idea perpetuated in the media about dominance and dogs. Many peoples’ first experience of dog training and behaviour is from watching TV. If they see a strong character perpetuating a myth, they will then believe that myth and start gathering their own evidence for it. The same person will then go around telling other people that the myth is in fact reality.

It’s easy to understand the structure and reinforcement of beliefs through the example above. What about beliefs about ourselves though? They feel so real and what about if we take our mind o the idea that we are not capable? We might miss the truth – that everyone else thinks we were incapable after all. How much sense does that make to you? If it sounds just like a random, painful and cruel jab from the monkey mind, that’s because it is.Sally Gutteridge The fact of the matter is that you can do anything you want to do. That’s not platitudes to make you feel better either, it’s just facts. We can all do much to build our self-belief, taking ourselves from a place of challenge avoidance to success. We might need to build it from the ground up by setting up small steps that we can succeed in taking, embracing the success and moving along towards bigger goals, in bite sized manageable chunks.

Perhaps you could start by reading every book on your kindle that you haven’t finished. By walking a mile before breakfast five days a week or taking an online course and actually finishing it. When you begin to finish the small tasks you have set yourself, you will soon be finishing larger ones without noticing how much bigger they are. It can be tempting to think that you can’t do a good job on something, so why bother finishing it at all. Why not choose a shiny new task and start again but get it perfect this time around? If you do that, stop! By restarting something new instead of finishing something you have already started, you are reinforcing the idea that you can’t finish things. This becomes a habit quickly and then an opinion of yourself. It’s also ammunition to the monkey mind, and trust me he will use it.

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©2020 by Sally Gutteridge.