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Have you been waging psychological warfare on yourself?

In the North Korean POW camps there were fewer cases of physical abuse than in prison camps from any other major military conflict throughout history. Why then was the death rate 38% – the highest POW death rate in U.S. military history? The full story is absolutely fascinating but the bottom-line is that the soldiers experienced extreme hopelessness.

In my 30+ years of coaching, I have found that people commonly use two of the primary psychological warfare tactics on themselves or others that were used to “torture” soldiers:

1)   Self-criticism

2)   Withholding positive emotional support


Regular “therapy” sessions were held with groups of 10-12 soldiers. The entire focus was to confess all the bad things he had done, as well as, all the good things he could have or should have done but didn’t.  How much time do you focus on what you haven’t done well, should have done better, etc.? What about with your spouse, kids, team at work? That’s right, every time a person does this they are tearing themselves or someone else down bit by bit – it was a weapon used in psychological warfare! 

Withholding positive emotional support:

Some believe the most damaging tactic was withholding emotional support. The captors withheld any and all letters from home that contained love and support. They of course, let through any that told of loved ones passing away, wives leaving husbands, etc. They even delivered overdue bills from collection agencies. How often have you “deleted” examples of love and support or withheld love and support of yourself while letting through any and everything that feels bad?

Thank goodness there is a flip side! Any time you catch yourself in self-criticism, STOP and look for something to acknowledge in yourself. Practice giving yourself a pat on the back on a regular basis – building yourself up each and every day. You really can build the muscle to increase your focus and attention on the good things in yourself and your life.

So notice and acknowledge when you are using your talents and strengths each and every day. Take a moment to appreciate and feel grateful for the good in yourself and the world. This truly is a secret for creating greater motivation, confidence and success.

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