Are you as smart as a five-year-old or are you still stuck at three?
You show a three-year-old a 12-inch-square flat board. You show him that one side of the board is red. Then you turn the board over and show him that the other side is green. You show him both sides several times, emphasizing the different colors on each side. Then, you turn the red side toward him so that you are looking at the green side. You ask him, "What color are you seeing?" He replies, "red." Then you ask him, "What color am I seeing?" He says, "red."
You show a five-year-old a 12-inch-square flat board. You show her that one side of the board is red. Then you turn the board over and show her that the other side is green. You show her both sides several times, emphasizing the different colors on each side. Then, you turn the red side toward her so that you are looking at the green side. You ask her, "What color are you seeing?" She replies, "red." Then you ask her, "What color am I seeing?" She says, "green."
A sixty-five-year-old professor (can he be as smart as a five-year-old?)
My client (let's call him John) said to me, "I really want to call some people and talk with them, but I keep holding back." I asked him, "What might be the benefit of not calling people?" He said, "I can avoid the chance that they might not like me interrupting them."
I then asked, "In all the times that you've called people before, how many times can you remember where it seemed they were upset with you for calling them?" He could only remember all the times that people were happy to talk with him.
Next I queried, "How clear are you about the distinction of how you occur for yourself and how you might be occurring for others?" He replied, "Not clear at all."
John, the three-year-old
I pointed out to John that he has a "I'm not good enough" view of himself. So, like the three-year-old child, he is projecting that others will have a same view. And no amount of evidence to the contrary seems to put much of a dent in that habitually inaccurate projection.
Yes, it's a bit different. With the three-year-olds and five-year-olds they were being tested for whether they recognized that their visual perception could be different from the visual perception of others. In this case with John, he has not learned to distinguish that his self-evaluative assessment could be different from the evaluative assessments others have of him.
John is not alone
It's quite common for many of us to collapse the phenomena for of how we see ourselves in contrast to how others may be seeing us, especially when we make negative assessments about ourselves like, "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not smart enough" or "I'm unlovable" or whatever.
My suggestion to John
Set some daily recurring mobile alarms to remind yourself of the new idea that how others are likely seeing you more favorably that you're seeing yourself. At the same time, accept the fact that the machinery of your mind is going to continue to operate on automatic for while with those old incorrect beliefs are stimulating the thought and the fear, "They're going to be upset with me for interrupting them." So each time you decide to pick up the phone anyway, take yourself through the undoing fear process and the four steps of choosing courage.
Combining both the new understanding that the reality of your self-assessment is quite distinct from the assessment that others may have of you, along with choosing courage again and again to take action in alignment with this new knowledge, not only will it get easier and easier to choose courage, but your own negative self-assessment will begin to disappear.
Moral of the story
When you're willing to choose courage, again and again, to take the risk that you might not always look good to others, then you end up looking good to yourself.
Getting curious about how you occur for others (instead of just guessing)
Go to How you occur for others.