Updated: Dec 21, 2022
One of my clients, who recently finished a 6-month 1-1 coaching program with me, started working with me when she was experiencing a lot of doubts around her intelligence. Like many of us, she felt like she lacked intelligence instead of feeling smart. She felt like others were treating her as if she was dumb, because during work meetings they kept explaining basic things to her. It felt belittling, and made her angry and frustrated. She found it offensive.
Even though she didn't realize this herself, it was clear to me from our first conversation, that I was talking to a highly gifted woman. At first, she would not believe this about herself. So, if I called her intelligent, she would cower and duck down, as if avoiding a blow, before moving on to a different topic as quickly as possible.
But as a coach, I didn't let her get away with that. I gave her an incredibly hard time. How? By repeating to her what I saw when I looked at her: a highly intelligent, gifted woman who overflows with great ideas, and who has a talent for expressing complex ideas with simple, poetic, to-the-point words, that stick with you long after a conversation with her has ended.
Sometimes, this can be the most uncomfortable thing that I as a coach will do with a client: I'll keep pointing out how intelligent and gifted they are. Over and over again. I force them to sit with that, instead of brushing past it.
To hear someone tell you that you are highly intelligent, when you've spent most of your life believing the exact opposite, is often an intensely emotional experience. One that can bring up sadness, anger, joy, and a host of other feelings, which are often very mixed.
Once I notice that someone's tendency to deflect my affirmations decreases, and that they can relax more into hearing that they're actually very smart instead of dumb, I give them a new task: I tell my client to now start telling themselves that they are gifted. I invite them to take 5 minutes every day, to stand in front of a mirror, look themselves in the eye, and tell themselves that they are intelligent. Over and over again.
If you've never done this before, I invite you to do this as well.
The key is to maintain eye contact, and to not just say the words to yourself, but to focus on hearing yourself say it. To really, truly listen to what you are saying to yourself. And to notice what emotions arise when you listen to yourself telling you how gifted and smart you are.
It's a simple assignment. But it's everything but easy.
You might feel a lot of resistance. You might feel like an impostor. You may feel super awkward. And it's very possible that you may not be able to believe yourself at first. But that's ok. Because your only task is to say the words, and to listen.
Repeat this process morning after morning, week after week, and month after month. Keep observing the impact this has on you internally. One day, you'll be repeating your affirmations and realize you're not lying. You'll realize you're telling the truth. And you'll believe it.
So, repeat after me: I am intelligent. I am gifted. I am smart. (Start with minimum 20 reps).
And that client I wrote about at the beginning of this blog? She's now completely transformed her self-image. She can now confidently tell me she is gifted, without flinching or batting an eye. She believes she is intelligent. She now understands that people don't over-explain things because they think she's dumb; for she now gets that they explain these things mostly for themselves. It's nothing personal, and it's not intended to be belittling. There is just a gap in thinking steps and speeds between her and her colleagues. She also has worked with me to start seeing her giftedness as a positive thing. As something worth celebrating. As something to cherish, to enjoy.
How can you achieve that too, you wonder? Well then you should come join my free event tomorrow, where I'll break down how to celebrate your gifts!
Festive outfits and drinks highly encouraged. Dress up for the occasion. Zoom cameras on. It's time to CELEBRATE!