Navigating Through Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions

Self-Leadership Blog by Seble Hailu

In my therapeutic practice, I incorporate the Internal Family Systems theory, which posits that each individual has a core self at the center with various parts surrounding it. These parts may become highly sensitized as a result of adverse childhood experiences or traumatic events. Dr. Richard Shwartz, who developed this theory, distinguishes between the core self and these different parts. He notes that we naturally possess a positive “Self” that embodies calm, curiosity, confidence, creativity, connection, compassion, caring, and clarity, which should guide our lives. However, he also acknowledges the presence of multiple parts that may be angry, critical, sabotaging, or fearful and may take on protective, managing, or firefighting roles as we navigate our lives and interact with others. 

Challenges are an inevitable part of life, and everyone copes with them differently. Some people find solace in spiritual experiences, while others prefer cultural practices or professional support to overcome obstacles. Those who seek therapy often desire a scientific approach that delves into the connection between the mind and body, working towards healing. Once treatment is complete, individuals can finally break free from their mental anguish and move forward. But how do we move on from our traumatic past while acknowledging and learning from it? This is where intentional and conscious self-growth comes into play, which I call self-leadership. According to leadership experts, self-leadership is the process of intentionally influencing your thoughts, emotions, and actions in order to achieve personal and professional goals and objectives. 

We must learn to lead ourselves before we can lead families, companies, and social entities. This process begins with our own thought life. Unfortunately, our thinking can become distorted when we face challenging life circumstances and traumatic experiences. These negative thoughts can become stuck in our minds and influence our emotions, causing us to respond in ways such as fight, flight, freeze, or fix. It is essential to heal our thoughts to achieve inner calmness and centeredness and focus on our purpose. 

Developing mature self-leadership often begins with a heightened awareness of our thoughts and the ability to confront any distortions. Additionally, it’s important to recognize the prominent emotions that arise when we experience these distortions, such as self-pity, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, fear, and loneliness. While these feelings are valid, it’s crucial not to let them dictate our self-leadership. Instead, we must strive for positive changes that lead to a stable and transformative life. 

Self-leadership is all about taking actions. While our thoughts and feelings are internal processes, they become practically manifested in life when they translate into action. Repeated efforts become behaviors that ultimately bring about changes. When individuals lead their personal lives from a place of positive self-attributes and integrate and heal their wounded parts, they make excellent leaders of communities and organizations. 

In order to lead others by example, self-leadership requires intentionality. This intentionality leads to conscious efforts to make changes and increase productivity and efficiency. Both community and company leaders must focus on their self-leadership to successfully influence others and achieve results. Unlike the common joke among some priests, “Do as I say, not as I do,” organizational leadership demands modeling the right way of thinking and behaving, managing emotions and relations, and using resources effectively. All these aspects of self-leadership help individuals achieve their goals.

The intricacies of human psychology, suffering, behavior change, and self-leadership cannot be oversimplified. Nevertheless, a simple conscious awareness of thought patterns, emotional reactions, and behavioral actions can serve as a stepping stone toward tackling this complexity. By taking responsibility for managing oneself and effectively leading others, the complex human being can navigate these challenges with greater ease.

Imagine if we all focused on improving our self-leadership, healing from past wounds, and intentionally creating our future with calmness, confidence, compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, and connection. Wouldn’t our relationships and interactions reach a higher level of leadership? I can only imagine.

Written by: Seble Hailu

2 thoughts on “Self-Leadership”

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