Bring in the third person.

Have you ever been stuck? Stuck in a job? Stuck in a relationship? Stuck in confusion over something that happened? Unable to get over it or snap out of it (whatever it is)?

Probably. Because we’re human. And we worry about what people think of us. We doubt ourselves. We let social expectations rule us. And then, of course, there’s the big stuff. There’s depression and loneliness and serious fear.

Fundamentally, this is the limitation of negative thought, and I see it all the time — in my clients, my friends, my family, myself.

You are your own worst enemy. You’ve heard this before. I know you have, because I’ve heard it a million times. (And since I’m only 43, that means I have heard it more than 23,000 times a year.) You are your own worst enemy.

So how about trying something new to silence the enemy? How about instead of allowing yourself the comfortable habit of self criticism or doubt, catching yourself in the act, and purposefully shifting your perspective to the third person? I don’t mean imagine what others think of you. That’s trouble, especially if you are someone who gets caught up in the fierceness of that game. I mean remove yourself from the heat of it. Get out of your head. Look at yourself or the situation objectively — truly objectively — and then be honest. Do not allow yourself to be harmful in any way in your assessment (notice I didn’t say “judgement”) of what you see. If you find yourself still being critical, take another step back and try again.

What you’ll see will pleasantly surprise you. It may even amaze you.

Instead of thinking “I am fat” when you look in the mirror, you will notice that your eyes look striking in this color and you might want to consider wearing it more often.

Instead of telling yourself “I’m impatient with my kids and am a bad mom” you might see a loving, dedicated mother who rises to the occasion to teach and love at every turn, but who is (shocker!) human.

Instead of “I must not be worthy of love” you might understand that you, frankly, deserve better (and the fact that he hasn’t called or texted has way more to do with him than it does with you).

Instead of wondering what they’ll think of you, you’ll feel the joy of doing what you love… and totally owning it.

Instead of opting out, you’ll feel psyched to opt in.

Instead of doubting your ability to do more or better, you’ll see someone with true potential.

And that brings up my next point. How often do you defeat yourself out of habit? How many times a day do you say “no?” How many times a day do you say “I can’t…”

No. I can’t. 

I have a simple philosophy that’s served me well over the years. When I’m presented with opportunity, I always say yes until there is actual proof that no is the only answer. Try it. Sure, be honest with yourself and others along the way.  Integrity is important. So “yes” might come in the form of “maybe” for a while.  But do allow yourself that third person point-of-view and go for the yes. If it doesn’t work out, fine. At least you tried. You probably learned something and gained something in the process.

And now think about “I can’t.” Come on. Is that really true? The more objective third person in you might say “I don’t know how yet,” or “I’d like to learn,” or, perhaps honestly, “I’m not interested.” But “I can’t” is incredibly self-defeating and self-deprecating. Because the truth is, you probably can. It is true that you probably can do and be far more than you think you can. That “I can’t” nonsense gets in the way. We’d all do well to eradicate the auto-response from our progress-defense arsenal.

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re caught up in the messiness of yourself to be objective, let alone positive. But it’s worth it to cease the negative habit. With practice, getting to that third-person place will get easier, and you’ll find that you’re actually, honestly, not so messy after all. And then you’ll get on a roll with that virtuous circle. Just as before when you fed in negative, you got negative; now when you feed in positive, you’ll get positive.

Yes. You can.