Teresa Brooks Life Coaching

Live your best life …


In the last few days the issue of competence has come to my attention. Questions and statements like the following have surfaced:

Am I competent enough?

I am anxious about my level of competence

I am expected to be as competent as….

Not enough training for this job makes me feel incompetent.

It may well be that more training or study are required but I would also suggest that a quick check on how you feel about your level of competence is warranted. You will, then, be able to make up your mind what to do about it.

In my last blog, Revisiting the Care and Maintenance of Our Inner Wealth, I reiterated the need for awareness

  • about how fairly or unfairly we regard and treat our abilities
  • of our personal comparison system and how that assesses  our level of achievement-fairly or unfairly  and
  •   that encouraging an ability will help it grow whilst criticising its low level of performance prevents improvement and just makes us feel bad.

If you are an accomplished critic, and most of us are, then the following example will graphically illustrate what happens when you are in critic mode. Imagine your under performing ability as a pre-schooler. This pre-schooler is being asked to cope with grade school tasks and is being punished/criticised for not doing a perfect job! Just because the child is not up for the job, at this moment, does not diminish the child’s intrinsic value nor should it cast doubt on the child’s ability given the right circumstances. Time, practice, maturity and encouragement will see the child perform the tasks being asked.

Have you noticed that giving yourself a hard time because you have “failed again” does not actually change anything; the more you criticise yourself, the more things stay the same? You are labouring under the false assumption that if you can just improve that errant ability  through criticism or attack , all your troubles will be solved. But what you are doing is joining forces with the outside critics and agreeing with them. Not only are you being held up to the standards of others but you are actively cheering them on! No wonder it feels bad.

So, if competence or the lack of it has come to your attention recently, here are some ways to explore your situation.

One way to get to know your Competence is to personify it. By that I mean, give it some sort of form. It is much easier to relate to your Competence when it has this form rather than to relate to an’ idea’ of Competence. Who/what  would represent your Competence? May I suggest that you allow your consciousness some time to come up with an image. You may be quite surprised at how accurate an image you receive.

Once you have a picture of Competence/Incompetence, you may choose to upgrade its status by renaming it. The name needs to reflect its true status. For example, Incompetence may be called,  Competence Undergraduate or Major Learning Curve; or whatever means something to you. I have found that by changing the name of a maligned ability, the urge to treat it critically  is suspended and I have been able to feel more kindly towards it and therefore less inclined to annihilate it for under performing.

Another aspect for exploration is your belief about Competence/Incompetence. This belief will be driving your attitude towards your ability. Some beliefs that I have come across are:

“I have to do things easily otherwise I’ll appear incompetent.”

“I have to be better than the people in my field…”

“I do not have permission to make a mistake.”

With any of those beliefs active in your consciousness, a lesser amount of competence does not stand a chance. Being aware of these beliefs is the first step to questioning their validity. Is it true that you always have to do things easily, be the best or make no mistakes? Perhaps this striving for perfection makes you unapproachable and anxious? When you give yourself permission to make mistakes with the aim of learning from them; ask others for clarification or help and admit that some things are hard to master, you stand in the truth of where you are. You also demonstrate a collegiate way of learning which is more inclusive.

In your exploration of Competence/Incompetence, you may realise that your ability could use some TLC. This can be a bit of fun as you dream up a character who will be invested in Competence’s welfare by providing support for this developing ability. It may sound silly, but it works. Who would you choose to give Competence more courage, more outgoingness, less anxiety? Would you choose Wonder Woman, the Queen of Hearts, Superman, The Hulk? You might be more inclined to choose an historical character whom you admire. It does not matter. Injecting some humour into a stressful situation helps to shift it and Competence/Incompetence will appreciate whatever help is offered.

We do not need to protect ourselves from our ‘lesser’ abilities. They become troublesome only when we do not acknowledge and value the contribution they make. When we welcome our level of Competence/Incompetence and appreciate what we have achieved with the amount of Competence we have, we become proactive in our growth. When we become convinced of our own value, we are able to be more relaxed and therefore more productive and happier.

Remember that when we revalue ourselves, the world will reflect the change.

Please be kind to yourself



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: