I sat silently in a meeting recently, this mental chatter in my head:
- What am I doing here?
- I’m not good at big picture conceptualization like these people.
- It’s better if I don’t say anything.
- My best contribution is as scribe, writing down other people’s ideas on the whiteboard.
If I had let this internal commentary continue unchallenged, I would have withdrawn further into a discouraged silence and, dare I say it, a shamed sense of “not as good as them.”
The good news is that, after a bit of time, I was self-aware enough to notice what I was saying to myself, to notice it and question it.
- Is it true that I have nothing to offer here?
That stopping, noticing, and questioning allowed the direction of my thoughts to change. I remembered some things:
- The framework for this part of the discussion came from a podcast series I listened to 6 months ago. I contributed something long before today’s meeting began.
- As the only therapist in the room, I have a unique “in” to the issues for which couples seek help.
- There will be specific, detailed tasks that come out of the meeting that need to be done. I’m good at those.
Remembering these things freed me from the shaming mental chatter, I valued my contribution, and I felt freer to engage in the conversation.
So let withdrawal catch your attention. Challenge your internal commentary. Remind yourself of what’s true and valuable in what you bring to the table. Or am I the only one who does this?