Have you ever noticed that when your self-confidence is low others seem to take advantage of you? Perhaps you’re feeling a little low in your mind and then all of a sudden things just keep going awry. It feels like:
- No one is listening to you
- Everyone is getting the best of you
- No matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to get the results you want
I know I have felt that way a lot. I would say something and it would seem like I’m speaking Greek as everyone looks at me like I’m crazy or worse yet ignores me entirely. Being a generous person I would give a little bit extra and then be taken advantage of in a big way. I would attempt to guide a project in an optimal direction and team members would pull us way off course. It never seemed to end.
So what was happening? I swear it took me what seemed like forever to find all the missing pieces. I knew raising my level of consciousness would help. I knew stepping into a new level of confidence would help. Boundaries were an absolute must. Stronger leadership would certainly change the outcome.
Yet I never quite had the mystery illustrated in such an eloquent way as I did during my weekend with the horses. One of my favorite parts of that weekend was when we did an exercise called temptation alley. Now you have to remember that at this point in the weekend I had moved through my initial terror by picking up the horse’s hooves but that was all. This exercise meant I had to lead my horse (and a damn big horse he was I might add…) on a lead through a ring and then up and down temptation alley. It consisted of a narrow walkway (the alley) and was bordered on both sides by hay and buckets of food (the temptation) and we had to stop and pause for ten seconds several times (to increase the horse’s desire to dive for the temptation). Great!
I had the advantage of watching several of my colleagues go first. So I was well aware of just how opportunistic the horses could be when faced with temptation and a momentary lapse in leadership. Let’s just say horses were diving for food, buckets were rolling around, and people were pulling with all their might on the lead attempting to regain the respect of their horse. By itself this was truly amusing I have to say…watching strong women leaders I respect being schooled by the horses on a blissful summer day. Knowing I had to go next took the amusement factor down a notch.
As a woman handed me the reigns to my horse she said “Oh don’t feel bad if he gets away on you, he likes to run.” Great! I thought to myself there is no way I am going to let that happen, so I simply decided to stand tall and lead as we were instructed – guiding the horse properly and “interrupting the thought” consistently. (Interrupting the thought meant preventing the horse from diving for food or grass by changing our grip on the lead.) I liken interrupting the thought to handling objections just before or as they are surfacing, setting and enforcing boundaries, and simply teaching others how you wish to be treated. It prevents someone else (in this case the horse) from yanking you around or taking you down a road where you are suddenly at a disadvantage, having lost ground, lost respect, and relinquished your leadership to an opportunist.
When I led my horse through the alley I experienced the clear difference between success and being had by an opportunist. I was successful and quite proud of myself except for the one time we stopped and for just a split second I broke my concentration and presence and boom, his nose headed to the bucket like lightning. Damn! It took more effort for me to regain leadership of my horse from that one misstep than for all the other exercises we did combined. The same holds true in life – it is much harder to reclaim leadership, respect, and boundaries if you’ve let someone get away with dishonoring them in the first place. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done; in fact we really do this all the time as we go along our journey living and learning. However, you can claim a stronger role in all you do if you honor and respect yourself by the choices you make and how you teach others to treat you from the get go. When you bend on your own standards of integrity (“oh just this time I will lower my standards or say yes when I mean no”) you are disrespecting yourself and telling your client, boss, co-worker, family, (aka your horse) it’s ok to walk over you and have anything they want at your expense.
My Coach’s Temptation Alley Request for You
You might not have the wisdom of the horses at your disposal but you can practice interrupting the thought and bolstering your own confidence every day. Here are a few action items you can take to move this into practice right away:
- Notice where the people in your life attempt to dive for what they want at your expense. Do they:
- Relentlessly ask you for more, more, more while disrespecting the agreements you have or the boundaries you set?
- Continue to ask (or beg) you to do something you have already said no to?
- Disrespect you by demanding their needs are always met while yours get put on the back burner?
- Do something else creative to satisfy their opportunistic desires?
- Now, notice for each of the above ask yourself:
- How have I allowed and contributed to this behavior?
- What have I taught them about how to treat me?
- How do I feel about these situations? (And if you try to discount your feelings, ask yourself more tangibly– what would happen if I acted this way while leading a horse? What would the detrimental result be? )
- Lastly, ask yourself – what stands in my way of being more of the person I want to be?
- Lack of confidence?
- Not enough clarity?
- Feeling stuck or trapped?
- Fear of stepping up?
It’s never only about a situation or another person. Personal responsibility always lies within. By delving into these questions fully you can begin to unearth what is really going on and how it is holding you back from living your best life right now.
Need support navigating your own temptation alley day to day so you can experience more success on your own terms and enjoy the journey? Reach out for a complimentary Intuitive Intelligence Activation Session at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com/application and take back the reigns of your own life.
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