Today I was coaching with a client who is a self-confessed people pleaser. We untangled how her people-pleasing leads her to create overwhelm and undue pressure in her own life. She will put others’ needs before her own and end up doing her own work late into the evening, after she’s used most of her day to keep others happy. She confesses she stressed when the client phone call before our scheduled time ran late causing her to worry that she would be late for her call with me. That translated in her mind into me being disappointed in her for not meeting on time.
Not so I said. “You are not in charge of my disappointment. Its up to me whether I feel disappointed or not. “
Yes, I control what impacts me and how it does so.
There’s a famous quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” With poetic licence we can expand this to say no-one can make any other person feel disappointed, unhappy, ashamed, guilty or anything else without their consent. How anything or anyone impacts us is within our own control. We each choose how to react or respond.
Let’s call this process self-impact. It may be the most important, if not the only, key to how we let what other people say or do impact us.
It’s how I think or feel about what someone else says or does — the story that my mind or emotions create in response — that determines how something or someone impacts me. I create the impact on myself: self-impact.
When I first read that this month’s theme was IMPACT, my default was to look at the external impact my work might have in the world. I started to look outside myself for validation that my work might actually be having an impact or influence on other people. That somehow I could claim to be making a difference.
My conversation with my client today, brought me back to realizing that it’s the self-impact that I create in my own life and work that’s more interesting and likely more valuable in the long run.
For, to again echo Eleanor’s words, if no-one can make me feel anything without my consent, why would I presume that my work might impact anyone else without their consent?
I don’t therefore know how any of you as readers will choose to let this short piece of writing impact you.
I can only ask you to listen to your own inner voice, thoughts and assumptions as you read it: and invite you to pay attention to the impact — self-impact —those are creating in your own mind or heart.
(This article was first published in the IAC (International Association of Coaching) Newsletter, October 2017 )
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