Sunday, June 28, 2015

Challenging Self-Downing: Collecting and Analyzing Data

Analyzing Good academics hold opinions that are supported by evidence, right? They are willing to alter previously held ideas and theories based upon new information. This is the essence of the scholarly life, no? We teach students to respect a culture of evidence, and to be willing to change their very world views based-upon what they learn. I submit that the same goes for us, and most certainly should apply to the erroneous beliefs we have about yourselves that hinder our writing, our productivity and our very happiness.

As you hopefully have begun to realizing from reading this blog and from doing some of your own personal exploration and some of the exercises that I have posted, you may believe some erroneous and unhelpful things about yourself. You may hold negative self-evaluations about your writing, about your abilities, about your ideas, and about your efficacy as a person. You want to change them- not easy.

One of the first ways of beginning to change core beliefs we hold about ourselves is by really exploring them. I mean deeply; as we would engage in a qualitative study. We want to pull these ideas apart, see what makes them tick, understand their connections to each other.  Most importantly, we want to see how they influence how we preform our work and our lives.

After all, is that not what the essence of psychotherapy really is (well a piece of it anyhow); we engage in a process of learning about ourselves in a way that leads to insight and ultimately change.

So, what I want you to do is this. Identify one of the core beliefs you hold about yourself and look for evidence confirming it. Really dig, and spend a lot of time looking for it.  Now, assess if the evidence REALLY confirms the believe, or if it is suggesting something else. Be as logical and analytical as possible; pretend this is about someone else.

Once you are done (and I suggest you write this down), I want you to think of all the evidence that challenges the self-downing belief. Write these down too. Now, if you dare (and please dare), I want you to go to a colleague/friend that you feel very, very safe with and ask him or her to provide you with evidence either supporting or disconfirming the belief you hold about yourself.

While this exercise is not going to immediately alter your self-downing thinking, it will begin to help chip away at it. As you explore your thinking, you may find that your self-downing thoughts are more pervasive than you had previously believed; such is the risk of self-awareness.

Be patient; I am going to present a bunch of tools for you try over over the coming days and weeks. If over time you are not able to transcend your self-downing congnitions and their negative effects on your work and life, I suggest a good therapist or therapeutically oriented coach to help guide you through the process.

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