Personal Development

Ask The Coach – Session 1

Ayo Olaniyan and Steven Aitchison answer two questions posed by readers on self development

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This is the first session of Ask The Coach.   The main aim of this weekly session is to ask you the reader to ask a question to the coach by posting a comment on this post and each week myself and Ayo Olaniyan will attempt to help you by answering your question.

So lets get started with the first session.

Question by Mark: Answered by coach Steven Aitchison

life coach steven aitchison

Question: "I care too much about what other people think. My fear of other's disapproval is the basis of many of my decisions. I say yes when I should say no. I recognize the problem but feel powerless. How do I make my own decisions based on what I think I should do?"

Hi Mark, thanks for posting your question on 'Ask The Coach'.

A lot of people suffer from this so you are definitely not alone in thinking like this. The good thing is you know what you should do as you stated in your question, so you're on the right road to doing something about it.

The first thing you might be able to do is look at the people around you when you are feeling particularly vulnerable, is it with friends, with family, with work colleagues? It might be that you feel more comfortable around your family as it's more of a safe environment to be yourself. If this is the case, start practicing saying 'no' to your family in an assertive way. For example, if a family member asks you to 'come out for a drink tonight' and you don't feel like it you can say something like 'Sorry, I'd love to but I just want to chill out tonight and be ny myself!' that's it, don't explain yourself as you've already given a good enough reason to satisfy yourself, there's no need to satisfy them as well. They might keep goading you to go out but stand your ground and restate that you want to chill out but you appreciate the offer. The first time you do this might be extremely difficult and you might find you start to get a little anxious and stutter and stammer your way through the conversation but honestly it will get easier the more you practice.

You have come to have feelings like this because you have unconsciously practiced them in your head and have practiced something called 'irrational thinking'. You can't really know what someone is thinking about you unless you are a mind reader, and nobody is, so it's irrational to think they are thinking bad about you. The more you let go of what people are thinking about you the easier it will become. Start practicing straight away and feel how liberating it can be just saying no to someone

Also you might ask yourself 'what's the worst that can happen?' if the people you think would disapprove of your decisions actually did disapprove what would be the worst that could happen? It's unlikely they would dislike you for one decision you had made which they didn't like, it's unlikely they would never speak to you again. It is more likely that they would respect you a little more for having the guts to say no, it's more likely that they would be looking for your approval next time they ask you.

We humans are strange little creatures and we always need to approval of other people, however we don't need the approval of everyone as you will never ever please everyone you meet. Accepting this fact will be tough but as soon as you accept it you will liberate your thinking and your confidence will soar. This is all a confidence thing and a habitual way of thinking. Train your mind into a different direction by practicing it often enough and you will soon gain the confidence to be yourself. It will take and effort but after a few months you will start to feel like a different person.

I hope this has answered your question Mark. Here are a few other posts which will give you more of an in depth answer to some of your questions on the subject:

29 ways to increase your feeling of self worth

How to be assertive

How to accept yourself

7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life

8 Destructive thinking patterns and how to change them

Let us know how you get on Mark, it would be great to keep in touch.


Question from MGL: Answered by coach Ayo Olaniyan

life coach ayo

Question: How can I drop bad habits easily?

Hi MGL, thanks for posting your question here.

The bad news is: you can't drop bad habits easily because there are no quick fixes. It took time, repetition and constant practice for those habits to evolve. The good news is: they can be replaced with positive habits which enhance personal development but it comes with focus, hard work and a willingness to see changes.

Habits are patterns of behaviour acquired through frequent repetition. "˜Bad habits' are negative behavioural patterns developed over a certain period of time.

Habits, good or bad, make you who you are. The key to success with habits is being in control over them.

Below are 6 tips to resolving negative habits:

Stop living in self denial.

Certain traits are manifested or exhibited in our lives. We pay no attention to their negative implications because we live in self denial, believing certain actions/behaviours are part of us and can never be changed. There is a tendency to become fearful of the pleasures that will be lost if these negative traits are replaced. Statements such  as I don't see anything wrong with it, I didn't know it was bad, I didn't know you couldn't stand it, I didn't know it will get me into trouble….. spring up.

In order to stop living in self denial you need to:

  • Acknowledge you have bad habits
  • Identify the bad habits you want to stop.
  • Identify the pleasures or satisfaction derived from it.
  • Do you exhibit a similar pattern of behaviour which is questioned by friends, family colleagues etc in a negative manner?

Living in self denial hinders your progress in replacing these negative habits.

What are the consequences?

Negative habits often have huge consequences. The initial gratification suddenly disappears when the impact caused by such habits takes a turn for the worst. People have lost their jobs, promotion at work because they were lazy, procrastinated or simply flippant with their speech.

People have lost out on friendship due to gossip, malice, dishonesty etc, some have lost money due to excessive spending, covetousness, jealousy etc. The results of bad habits have grave consequences. Because the initial experience is pleasurable we often disregard the consequences.


Take action.

We can take action by making a conscious effort to replace those negative habits. These actions stem from being decisive; making up your mind, being courageous to face fears that could result from a change in behaviour. We need to engage in positive behaviour which over time will build our self confidence in developing good habits. Replace bad habits with good ones for example: if you have the habit of thinking negative thoughts, try replacing it with the habit of thinking positive thoughts.

It's a matter of time, you will get rid of them, bad habits were built gradually and they will go gradually as long as you see the importance and is determined to replace such habits.

Take action by constantly practicing and repeating new, but positive things which would eventually give rise to new habits.

Don't be hard on yourself.

These habits took time to develop and can't be gotten rid of immediately. It takes time, commitment, determination to get these habits replaced. Learn to exercise patience and focus on dealing with one habit at a time, giving audience to the ones which are easiest to resolve without any major impact. Keep it simple and don't flog yourself if you fall below expectations. We are human beings with loads of imperfection.

Change is a gradual process and taking it in steps, form new habits which tend to replace the old ones.

Show some consistency and commitment.

Be consistent and committed to making a change. Make no exceptions when it comes to kicking out negative events that would hinder progress. Ensure your new habit being developed over time will be beneficial and create a positive impact to you.

Build Accountable Relationships.

Networking with people of credibility and accountability is essential in dealing with negative habits. You can always get help, support or gather information on how to resolve difficult habits which pose as problems, based on the experience they've acquired.

Take gradual steps today to replace negative habits with positive ones.

I hope this has helped you mgl

I look forward to your comments.


About Ayo:

Ayo Olaniyan is a certified Unitiveâ„¢ Life Coach and Counsellor.   He is a member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, an accredited professional counsellor with the Counselling Society and the author of Expanding Your Horizons.   If you would like to enquire about personal and professional one-to-one coaching sessions, please visit or send an email to   Remember, it's about creating a purpose driven life through personal development.

If you would like to post a question to Ask The Coach, please visit this post and leave a comment and Myself and Ayo will answer two questions each week.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.