Recently, I was at a hip party in New York with several of my friends. It was a charity event and I was wearing a cool Ralph Lauren dress and feeling good. I spent the first part of the evening meeting different people and connecting. At some point I sat down at a table next to a very good-looking couple and started talking to them. I shared with them about my writing / directing career and my desire to tell stories that make a difference in the world. They were both artists and we were having a lovely conversation.
Then they asked me how I ended up at the event. I told them I knew the organizers and I was here with my friends and colleagues from the Handel Group®. The couple had heard about Handel and asked me if coaching really worked. Now, I’m the best salesperson because coaching changed my life on every level. I lost weight, got happy and really connected to my desire to help people and make a difference in the world. I decided to share my story with them.
I told them how I had hit rock bottom. I had gone through a bitter divorce and had made a mess of my life eventually weighing over 265 pounds. Their mouths dropped after hearing I had been obese. I felt a shift in the conversation. I finished my story by saying how I was now happy, a size 4 and would recommend private coaching to anyone. It works. Once I was done, the woman responded, “Wow, congratulations. That’s a lot of weight.” The man nodded and said, “Yeah, that’s great. “ And then it was silent. Very silent.
Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable, insecure, vulnerable, and alone. And overweight. In one moment, my confidence in who I was and why I was here disappeared. My desire to share my story disappeared. My strong connection to helping people and wanting to make a difference disappeared.
Instead, I had a wave of fear come over me and a stream of negative thoughts flew around my head:
“You shouldn’t have told them.”
“They are disgusted by you.”
“They are so grossed out, they don’t even want to talk to you anymore.”
“You don’t belong here.”
“You’ll never be good enough.”
“You’ll never make a difference.”
“You are wasting your time. Just keep your mouth shut from now on.”
Yes, those were the thoughts flying around my head. I went from being a confident, happy woman to being an insecure mess in a moment.
I smiled at them, got up, and walked away from the table. I needed to escape. I searched for a bathroom. I was lucky. The restrooms were single, individual bathrooms. I went into one and locked the door. I looked in the mirror.
On the inside, I was feeling like I did when I was overweight: insecure, ugly, unworthy, not good enough and just wanting to disappear. As I stared in the mirror, I was confused at the image looking back at me. She was not insecure or ugly or unworthy. She actually looked like a woman on a mission. I was on a mission to help people change their lives. I wanted to be there for people who needed me. What happened? How could I go from believing and sharing to doubting and disappearing in under five seconds? How did I end up here?
My mind did this.
I thought back to what happened at the table with the couple. What did happen?
After I shared with the couple about being overweight, they were nice to me and congratulated me. That was it. I didn’t ask them if my story made them uncomfortable. I didn’t know if they were thinking negative thoughts about me. They could have both been impressed and blown away by my weight loss and that’s why they were quiet. Who knows. I didn’t know.
But instead of thinking those positive thoughts, my mind went to invalidating everything I had accomplished with my weight loss and having me doubt my ability to make a difference. That’s what our minds do to us. Something happens and we mentally purchase a ticket on a negative thought train that takes us on a ride where we DO NOT want to go. A ride we DO NOT have to do go on.
It took me about a minute of hanging out in the bathroom to realize that I had made up this whole story in my head about this couple’s reaction to my weight loss. It was my mind messing with me again. What did I do? I tossed the negative thoughts out of my head. Replaced it with new thoughts: “I’m happy. I love sharing my story with people and I belong here.”
A moment later, I walked out of the bathroom and joined my friends at the party, enjoying the rest of the evening. But it could have gone either way. The single most important thing that I learned from coaching is that we have the ability to manage our minds and create what we want to be thinking every moment of the day. I can manage my mind. And so can you.