Self-belief Versus Self-doubt

This might sound simplistic (and surprising), but if you want to know whether or not a coach, counselor, psychologist, or any person understands how the human mind truly works, you might start with this question:

Is self-belief preferable over self-doubt?

If the answer is yes, then this person has bought into the illusion or myth that certain states of mind are better than others. If the answer is no, then this person has risen above it. In other words, the human experience is an inner one of constant change. Regardless of what’s happening on the outside, we’re designed to feel super-confident one minute and woefully insecure the next. Self-belief and self-doubt are actually two sides of the same coin. We’re not meant to choose one over the other.

In fact, due to the myth that human beings can deliberately choose self-belief, or that self-doubt can be deliberately willed away, we’ve created a world of victims who seem to be on a perpetual quest to fix something that’s not broken. Young people in particular. They’re told that confidence is essential for success (or that insecurity kills it). Then, when they don’t feel confident, many seek relief in a variety of coping methods—numbing themselves to the complete spectrum of what being alive really means. What often comes next is discipline (for using a coping method). They’re kicked off a team or out of school by the very coach/teacher who pointed them in a backward direction relative to confidence in the first place.

Isn’t it time we stop this cycle of misunderstanding? A person’s state of mind is the ultimate variable. His or her worth as a human being—the capacity to love, serve, and excel—is the ultimate constant. Self-belief is not better than self-doubt. They both are necessary. They both are guides. No matter what, if you’re experiencing a feeling, emotion, or state of mind, it cannot be abnormal.

A Simple Gift

A Simple Gift

“So I’m making up my whole life? It’s that simple? It’s up to me how it turns out?”

A young client asked me that recently after I explained to her how we create thought that we experience as our reality, in that moment.

Yes, it is that simple. Yet within that simplicity are so many surprising gifts:

Nothing and no one can make us sad, mad or happy. We can only do that for ourselves.

Nothing and no one can put limits on us. We can only do that to ourselves.

Nothing and no one can get in the way of our dreams. We can only create the illusion of obstacles.

Nothing and no one can spoil our present moments with memories from the past or worries about the future. We can only look back or look ahead and miss right now.

Nothing and no one can make us frightened and insecure. We can only become trapped in our own frightened and insecure thoughts.

Nothing and no one can change us. We can only change ourselves with one thought, at any moment.

Nothing and no one can take away our power to think for ourselves.We can only give it away, and then forget it was, is, and always will be ours.

How do we inadvertently and innocently hurt ourselves? The gift of thought allows us unlimited capacity to make up absolutely anything, from the horrific to the transcendent. The gift of consciousness brings every thought we pause upon to vivid life as our experience, the reality of that moment. If we don’t know that our own thought has created that reality and it will dissipate as soon as another thought comes to mind, that reality seems so “real” that we start wondering “What’s causing that?” Then we look at the circumstances and pick out something to blame.

It’s that simple.

As soon as we turn around and recognize that we caused it and we alone can change it, there is no thought that can hurt us. If we don’t like what we see, we can allow it to pass, as all thoughts will when we’re not holding on to them trying to deal with them. Other thoughts will come to mind. Other realities will appear. Life is like a kaleidoscope in our hands, always giving us a new present moment image.

I have several clients who believe they are rightly “suffering” the effects of soul-searing events from their pasts. Given what they’ve been told about cause and effect, they believe they are “damaged” beyond repair because of past events. They know they can’t change the past, or persuade themselves it was different from what it was. So they feel doomed to a lifetime of suffering and coping. They are at best disheartened, at worst, depressed.

I also have several clients who are so fearful and worried that they are frozen in indecision or inaction. Every time they take a tentative step forward, they are beset with imagined worst-case scenarios, or negative outcomes. So they hesitate, to try to figure it out. But the more they think about it, the worse it seems.

It is astonishing what happens when they see the simple gift of thought and realize they are re-creating the past and bringing it back to their reality every time they try to “deal” with it. The furrows of suffering dissolve from their faces; their eyes light up. They are free to be who they are, right now, in this present moment, and free to create what’s next, without fear of any random thought that might pop into their heads.

It is that simple. I think. It looks real. But I can think again. Reality shifts. And again, and again, and again. We are always holding the rudder of our own ship, always making it up. The gift of thought is the most powerful navigational tool in the universe of humanity, and it is the birthright of every human being. It guides us past the Scylla of our most disturbing memories and the Charybdis of our most distressing fears.

“Thought is the missing link between mental sickness and mental health. Thought is also the missing link between happiness and sadness.”
– Sydney Banks, The Missing Link

The Pitfalls of “Issue-Based” Coaching or Counseling

While, in my mind, it’s unfortunate, “issues-based” coaching (e.g., addiction specialists, marriage specialists, weight-loss specialists, or I-can-help-your-mental-game-in-golf specialists) seems to be the norm today. Trouble is, trying to help another person, or yourself, overcome a specific life issue by focusing on that issue drastically reduces the odds for development, insight, and achievement. We’ll get to what increases the odds later, but for now, here are the six reasons why (if you’re a coach, therapist, or consultant) you might want to reconsider this common practice ASAP.

  1. There’s not a causal relationship between a specific personal issue and one’s state of mind.

No doubt, it often appears that personal problems, or issues, are the cause of mental anguish or strife. But, in truth, it works the opposite way: Personal problems are a symptom of mental anguish or strife. Meaning, a person cannot feel better by trying to fix an issue that has nothing to do with how he or she feels in the first place. Plus, it may sound strange, but an issue isn’t really an issue at all. Issues tend to disappear entirely, or no longer look like issues, the instant a person’s state of mind ascends.

  1. Focusing on a specific issue points people in the direction of what they want to avoid.

Quite simply, addressing a supposed issue energizes the illusion described in #1. Here’s a quick story to illustrate: I once worked with an NHL team whose goaltender, according to the head coach, needed to stop giving up goals late in games. I asked the coach, “What have you guys done to help him?”

He said, “We talk to him about this issue all the time, but it’s getting worse.”

I replied, “I’m on it, but you must promise me one thing: You’ll never discuss this issue again.” The coach reluctantly agreed and, without me ever discussing it either, the issue disappeared. The team then went on to finish first in their conference.

  1. It’s impossible to reverse-engineer the human experience.

Human beings work one way: inside to out. That is, a change of heart (inside) is the only thing that can create a change of experience and clear up issues (outside). Sure, starting outside with the intent of working inside might appeal to someone who’s mistakenly blaming his or her low mood on a specific issue. But since fixing issues can’t fix moods (we can’t work outside-in), shifts will be minimal at best. For example, many coaches make the body language of their players a vital issue. Some even hire body-language specialists to teach players how to carry themselves. What they don’t realize is that body language is strictly an effect of one’s mood or state of mind. So, while players may temporarily exhibit good posture or forced smiles, they don’t experience the inner shift that causes consistently genuine and productive behavior.

  1. Truth is universal; the implications of truth are personal.

Although it’s a universal truth that the human experience is an inner one of spiritual ebb and flow, creating our varying perceptions of the world outside, the implications of this truth—or issues cleared up by it—will be personal for each of us. For one person, it might mean less fatigue and increased energy. For another, a decrease in the urge to cope. For another, a more powerful bond with God. You’re not a soothsayer. No one can accurately predict where looking within might take someone. We do know this, though: Truth (inside) comes first; implications (outside), second. Always.

  1. Addressing personal problems limits possibilities.

Seeking or offering help for a specific issue restricts opportunity. If you tell someone that you can help them lose weight, for instance, they’ll most likely confine their focus to weight loss only. This requires intense concentration and personal thinking, which narrows vision and reduces the chances for widespread growth.

  1. It’s a matter of integrity.

As inferred in #4, no one wants to make promises that they can’t keep. Whether in overt marketing or subtle innuendo, if you’re in the coaching business, you simply have no ability to guarantee precise results. And, if you’re tempted, bait and switch tactics (luring clients in the door by offering to fix X and then hoping to deliver Y) aren’t cool either. Rather, here’s what you can offer and guarantee the people, teams, and organizations with whom you work: love, accessibility, support, and an unwavering guide inward for answers. The bottom line: Issue-based coaching lacks integrity.

So there’s the list. And while I hope you find it helpful, the question remains: If issue-based coaching isn’t advisable, what kind of coaching paradigm actually does increase the odds for development, insight, and achievement?

The answer: one that strips away, and doesn’t take advantage of, the widespread misunderstanding that external “issues” truly exist. In other words, the world outside is merely a projection of the world inside. And we help others, and ourselves, by pointing toward this fundamental principle—never away from it.

Thanks for reading,


The Strangest, and Most Wonderful, Feeling in the World

Here’s a quick review of a conversation I had last week with a player I’ve been working with for about two years. It reveals the power of waking up to the fact that the human experience is, by nature, one of yin and yang; light and dark; positive and negative; spiritual and physical. A moment-to-moment thrill ride. Some call the realization you’ll read about below acceptance, detachment, or surrender. I prefer freedom or Truth. Feel free to drop me a note and let me know what you would call it.

Player (via text): G, do you have two minutes to speak? I’ve got to tell you something ASAP.

Me (via text): Yep, call me now.

Player: Thanks, here’s what I wanted to talk about: It’s crazy, about an hour ago, I felt a wave of insecurity and worry build up inside of me. I mean I really felt like crap, like my life was caving in. But for some reason it then occurred to me that I was perfectly okay feeling that way. What I’m trying to say is that I actually felt horrible and wonderful at the exact same time. Almost as if I was watching or looking down on myself as I struggled. So liberating, but the strangest feeling in the world. Is that normal? I’m not sure if I’m even making sense.

Me: Perfect sense, buddy. In fact, I think it’s on the plus side of normal, and this might be the coolest thing a client has ever told me.

Player: Nice. Thanks. I’m on cloud nine. This means so much.

Me: Love you.

Player: Love you, too. Talk soon!

Without a doubt, finding a new perspective on the human experience—not trying to fight, control, or fix it—is an inspiring effect of grasping what the human experience truly is. It’s all energy. And whether coming or going, all feelings are normal. This player, I’m happy to say, is seeing it clearer and clearer every day. Knowing that he, like you, is okay no matter what is life’s ultimate blessing.


The Irrelevance of Mindset

Here, to me, is one of the most confounding misconceptions springing from the worlds of self-help and psychology: The advice that people should wait for their heads to clear, or do something to try to make their heads clear, before they take action. Indeed, this misconception seems to paralyze more and more folks each day. Truth is: There is no actual connection between one’s potential to excel, compete, or serve, and his or her current state of mind.

If that surprises you, welcome to the club. I’ve never worked with an athlete or coach, from the high-school level to the finest on the planet, who hasn’t fallen for this fallacy. Until, that is, they recall moments of brilliance (such as hitting a golf shot close to the flag) that occurred at times of mental clutter. Then, almost like clockwork, relief sets in. A bit of dismay, too. As they wonder why they’ve been chasing an insignificant target or level—a high state of mind—for years.

Do you know the mental-performance saying, “Mindset is everything?” Well, it’s born from the misconception mentioned above; it’s such the wrong direction. Why? Because mindset is, and always will be, the ultimate variable. If anything, understanding the source of mindset is everything. What human beings feel is connected to the yin and yang of spiritual energy. And, whether cluttered or clear, spiritual energy can never be negative, abnormal, or problematic. Spirit can’t work against someone.

One more thing regarding the surprising irrelevance of mindset: Sometimes, when I indicate that it’s impossible for one’s feeling state to inhibit potential or talent, people get the idea that I’m prodding them to jump right up and take action. Not at all. In fact, I’m not saying you should take action; I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying the question is unimportant and, because it points outward, it’s also unhelpful.

These two questions, on the other hand, are important and helpful. They points inward to source, so they reveal a ton of implications and possibilities, too:

1. Do passion and love rest within your heart, within your soul, no matter what mindset you find yourself in?

2. When your vision is momentarily blurred, does your innate mental health remain an untouchable constant?

The answers are a resounding YES and YES. You are connected, whole, and capable—100 percent of the time.