If I look back to my much younger self with the benefit of hindsight, there are many things I might do or say differently.
More importantly there are some key messages about confidence I’d want to share with the less experienced version of me.
I grew with a secure and protected childhood, which was wonderful but may not have allowed me to develop my independence muscle enough.
It’s okay to listen to others opinions and take on board different perspectives, but trusting in my instincts and feelings should have been the most important influence.
2. Speak up, you won’t look stupid
Again this is about trusting that what I have to say is as important as anyone else thoughts. There isn’t always a right answer and by speaking up more I would have respected myself and boosted my confidence.
3. Your confidence will grow
I remember that scared feeling, when I first left home, when I got my first job and bought my first house.
Feeling nervous and uncomfortable in new experiences and situations is normal and I’d love to reassure my younger self that the more new experiences I throw myself into the more my confidence will grow.
4. Everyone is doing the best they can
It seemed to me when I first started at University or in new jobs that my peers and seniors all were so confident and sorted.
I now realise that everyone is just doing their best in situations and struggling with their own insecurities. So I should stop worrying what others think and just be me
5. Good enough is good enough
I definitely have some perfectionist tendencies and set myself high expectations. These days I have learnt to be more realistic with my intentions, which means I don’t always have to do or be the best.
The freedom and calmness this has given me are something I would love my younger self to have experienced.
Having said all this, I’ve enjoyed the learning process that has taken me to where I am, so maybe it’s better to discover these lessons for yourself?
Do you have any lessons on confidence you’d like to share with your younger self?
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I’m as shocked as most people in the UK at our decision to leave the EU and the ongoing political fall out. It has taken us all in a direction where the final destination is unknown.
At times like this when we maybe fearful of the future, there is a tendency to blame and shame other people, the awful signs of which we’ve seen this week.
Being taken out of your comfort zone, is risky and uncomfortable and a successful outcome can seem impossible. When the initial shock wears off and you start to readjust and realise that whatever the outcome is, you are still okay, then you will have shown your resilience.
For those people feeling anxious about the effect of this huge decision and worried about the confidence and resilience of this country I have 5 tips to share with you:
See the positive and the negative. Instead of focusing on just the negative possibilities, look proactively for the positive in the situation. According to Dr Barbara Fredrickson you need a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative experiences to build your resilience
Take the learning. In an uncomfortable or negative situation a resilient person is more likely to ask “what’s the solution” or “what can I learn from this”. Life is a long journey of learning, we aren’t supposed to know it all at any stage
Look after yourself. Thus means physically and emotionally, so ensure you eat and sleep well, exercise, get outdoors and spend time with people you care about
Practice gratitude for the positives in your life and appreciate the kindness of others. Also, there is an additional benefit to doing an act of kindness for another person, as it drives up your serotonin levels (the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness)
Have a laugh. Finding the humour in a difficult situation is a great way to feel more in control. Playful humour also reduces the fear around the unknown
Whatever you voted, we now need to collaborate together to show our confidence and resilience and adjust to the new world – whatever that is!
Last week I was invited to be on the expert panel for the press launch of a report about ‘Why Diets Fail’ sponsored by XLS Medical.
Having read the report there were some really interesting facts about diets:
72% of us have tried a diet this year and a third have tried two or more
Of those almost half feel it’s failed in the first month
34% of dieters claim to have failed every diet they’ve tried, as they’ve put weight back on
Less than a quarter of dieters actually achieve their weight loss goals
At the launch, along with a fitness expert, a dietician and a food blogger we debated with a room of journalists what is needed for people to achieve a healthy diet resulting in weight loss? Rather than to go on a fad diet such as the ‘Kale and Chewing gum’ diet (yes it really exists!)
The number one reason for a diet failing, given by 41% of the OnePoll survey in this report, was a lack of motivation, followed by boredom, stress and time restraints.
So what causes this lack of motivation?
A lack of realistic goals. Expecting a rapid weight loss initially and for it to continue. It’s much better to aim for a 1/2lb loss each week as research has shown it can be more easily sustained
A lack of support and accountability. Having a group of friends or a professional to support you and keep you online with your goals, will maintain your motivation when your willpower weakens
Unrealistic goals. A goal of losing just 5 to 10% of your weight is realistic and will make a big difference to your health
Not enjoying your food. In our hectic lifestyles we may believe we should be reading emails, texting friends or catching up on tv when we’re eating. This means we don’t savour or taste our food or recognise the triggers of feeling full. Instead get rid of distractions and really enjoy your food, Mindfulness practice can also help you stay present.
Setting rigid rules. A more flexible approach to eating including allowing yourself small amounts of all the foods you crave, is much more likely to keep you motivated than a very restrictive diet
As well as all these positive actions to keep motivated the key element I believe, is to understand what your hunger is really for and why you want to eat.
Quite often we eat to get rid of, or numb bad feelings rather than actually being physically hungry. We need to understand and recognise our emotional eating patterns to be able to change them.
In our childhood when we feel sad or hurt or bored, we’re often given a hug or a treat to make us feel better. As if feeling uncomfortable is a bad thing which we need to get rid of. So it’s not surprising that we then learn to eat to comfort or reward ourselves.
How many times have you reached for a chocolate bar or glass of wine when you felt bored or stressed?
By understanding whether the hunger is emotional or physical you can start to make better choices as well as accept yourself just as you are.
It’s constantly in the press about the gender pay gap and how as women we’re making great achievements in our careers but not always being equally paid for it.
One of the reasons given for this is that as women we are less likely than men to put ourselves forward for promotions or negotiate for higher salaries.
So what is stopping us from being able to confidently ask for what we want and get it (most of the time)?
One of the explainations is down to our culture and upbringing; often women learn that to be self-serving isn’t ‘nice’ or ‘polite’ and therefore it feels very uncomfortable.
Another reason is for women it’s difficult to get the balance between being passive and aggressive, if you don’t negotiate you’re being too feminine and earn less and if you do negotiate, you’re too aggressive and maybe disliked.
When it comes to applying for promotions research has shown that women are biologically different from men in having the confidence to take a risk.
This was demonstrated when a group of volunteers were shown a job description for a role which would be a promotion and asked if they would apply. The men were confident to apply if they believed they could deliver 60% of the job description however for women they had to be nearly 100% sure before they would consider it.
Whether you want to influence your boss, convince an interviewer or your potential clients. Having the confidence to step out of your comfort zone and being able to confidently phrase your request is important.
People will interpret the way you communicate as a measure of your confidence and self-belief and use this to determine whether to agree to your request or not.
Here are some of my confidence tips to help you ask for more money or a promotion confidently:
Do your research – if you’re going to negotiate a pay rise or a starting salary, ensure you know your market value
Step out of your comfort zone – If you find it difficult to take a risk, build your confidence first with small challenges and remember, if you do nothing, nothing will change.
Use assertive language – this means sticking to the facts, using ‘I’ statements and asking clearly for what you would like. e.g. “There is a new role being advertised in marketing, I believe I’m ready to make that move and I would like your support to apply.”
Avoid apologizing and softening your request – Being polite is important but using phrases such as “if you don’t mind” or “would it be okay if I asked you…” dilute your request and your confidence
Don’t feel guilty – asking for something you want whilst still showing the other party respect is not selfish, instead it shows you value yourself
Get clarity on a negative response – if you don’t get the agreement you were looking for, rather than reacting negatively ask for some clarity. Using a phrase such as “I’d like to understand the reasons for your decision?” or “Can you give me some specific feedback on how I can become ready for that position?”
Good luck and do let me know how you get on!
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Earlier today I did a 25K bike ride in beautiful sunshine with my children aged 10 and 11. It was in aid of the local hospice and as my husband was off doing a tortuous bike ride in the Welsh hills I agreed to take them.
As we reached the finish, I was so proud of them completing it without any wingeing or moaning that I wished Mike was with me to share the moment.
Then I questioned myself, why wasn’t it enough that we had this great moment, did I really need to share it with someone else or post it on Facebook for it to be complete?
Sharing moments is great but appreciating the moment as it happens is surely more important. It’s almost as if , if we haven’t got a record of a passing moment, or shared it with others, then we haven’t really experienced it.
It started me thinking about how this feeling, that a moment is not enough, could affect our lives. It means we have/are:
A constant feeling that we should be doing more or being more. Which leaves us believing we’re not enough
Comparititis – the need to compare your moments with other people, especially on social media
An inability to relax. As there’s a constant feeling that there’s more to be done
Not being present when we’re eating. Instead feeling the need to catch up online, read emails or do work. So we don’t taste and savour our food, isn’t it enough just to focus on eating?
Missing out on really experiencing the great moments in our lives. Because we’re worrying about whether we’ve captured it, or if it’s quite right or if we’re appreciating it enough
A lack of purpose in our lives. As we don’t recognise all we have experienced and achieved already. Which leads to a feeling of not yet having done enough and not being enough
What if we were to really live in the present and accept that every moment, however brief, is enough exactly how it is?
Then we would be free to, as the saying goes, “Stop And Smell The Roses”. The definition of which, I found out, means – stop stressing out, overthinking or complaining, put your troubles in perspective and enjoy your short time on earth.
So what would be the benefits of living in the moment?
We have more clarity. We’re able to focus clearly on what is happening and not be distracted
We feel relaxed. As we’re not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future we will gain a calmness from being in the moment
Our emotions are more positive. As we aren’t focused as much on the negatives of the past or the future, we can fully enjoy the positives of the moment
I love this quote:
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
To achieve that how do we start to work towards being more present in the moment?
Start small. Begin by making small changes to your routine, such as being mindful for 3mins a day, or switching off your phone during your lunch break (take a short lunch break, not at your desk, if you don’t already!)
Learn how to bring your mind back when it wanders. The practice of mindfulness is all about redirecting your mind back from your thoughts to the present moment or whatever you’re focusing on. Success isn’t about clearing your mind but being able to draw it back when it wanders, which it will. Focusing on your breathing or eating or a sensation in your body is helpful.
Notice the small things. This can be as simple as a child’s smile, listening to music or the taste of ice cream
Realise your thoughts aren’t real. The world we create from our thoughts especially when we’re worrying about the future isn’t real, even though it seems to be. So instead of creating lots of what if scenarios, try and focus on what actually is
Stop multitasking. Not only does this mean your not doing all the tasks effectively but it stops you really focusing on each one
Be kind to others. Giving compliments to others or acts of kindness will refocus your attention on what’s happening now
Be grateful. Appreciating the things in your life which you love and enjoy helps you keep in the moment
I’m still thinking about putting a photo of my kids with their medals on Facebook, but maybe instead I should accept that the moment has past and focus on whats happening now instead.
Let me know your thoughts and ideas on how to stay in the moment.
Wanting people to accept and approve of you is a normal human reaction as it makes us feel secure and part of the tribe.
I sometimes make decisions or choices to avoid criticism or disapproval, rather than because it’s the best thing for me. I also can avoid speaking up if I think other’s won’t agree with me.
If you are constantly people pleasing like this you maybe missing out on opportunities in life and not showing yourself there expect you deserve.
A need for approval tends to affect our lives in 3 different ways:
You procrastinate and avoid making difficult decisions, resulting in a feeling of anxiety and constant worry
You don’t say no to others and are rushing around working hard with no me time
You lack motivation and are stuck in a rut because you aren’t sure what is important to you and what makes you happy
So how can you let go of the need for approval?
Start being awareof when you are making decisions or taking actions based on others approval. Challenge yourself as to why you are doing this and whether you could do it differently
Develop self-approval. Record the achievements you make, the things you’re proud of and your positive strengths. Congratulate yourself when you show the confidence to keep to your beliefs
Develop self-awareness. Be curious about what drives you, makes you happy and you’re passionately interested in. It’s these core values that drive your decisions and behaviours and tell you when you’re being true to yourself
As I’m still working on my need for approval, I really hope you enjoyed my article! If you did please share it on the buttons below and make sure you sign up for more articles and my Top 10 Confidence Tips
People who lack confidence, and women in particular, are often living their life inside their own heads. This means that a lot of the things they believe is happening in their world, isn’t really.
A client of mine, we’ll call her Sue, was an expert at creating her own environment and as a result had lost confidence socially, at work and in relationships.
If she was out socially she’d be so focused on what other people were thinking about her, and how negatively they were judging her, that she’d become tongue-tied and unable to have a conversation.
At work she would stress about what would happen if she made a mistake or didn’t get work finished on time. In her head this would lead to disapproval, upset and eventually losing her job. Even though she’d had good feedback from bosses, in her mind she was just a small step from unemployment.
Sue has had relationships but because they failed she worried that she won’t find anyone. When she started a new relationship she constantly made assumptions about what her boyfriend was thinking or what his actions might mean. This caused her to waste a lot of time and energy and not to relax and be herself.
I worked with Sue on being aware of when she is creating her own world and making assumptions. From this she could then start to challenge whether her thoughts had any evidence or logic or whether they were actually just her negative thinking.
3 other tips that helped Sue are:
When you meet people stay focused on them rather than being absorbed in your own head. This means actively listening and really taking notice of what the other person is saying. Not being distracted by thinking about what you’re going to say or whether what you just said sounds stupid. Active listening also has the benefit of making the other person feel you’re interested in them and builds rapport
Accept that you can’t know what other people are thinking unless they tell you. So be comfortable with the unknown and choose to believe that most people make positive judgements
Practice Mindfulness, learning how to stay present in the moment rather than reliving the past or worrying about the future allows you to get out of your head
Over time Sue has learnt how to distract, challenge or not listen to herself when these thought storms start. This has enabled her to trust and believe in herself more and her increased confidence means she enjoys life far more.
Like me, many of my friends find the call of the 8pm wine glass very difficult to refuse. It’s that moment when the kids maybe in bed and you can at last start to relax for the evening.
Whether it’s the wine or chocolate o’clock that tempts you, the first sip or bite can feel fabulous, you notice yourself unwind and your mood lifts.
But is it really the wine or chocolate that is creating this mood change? What if the good feelings just came and weren’t actually linked to the treat you’ve given yourself?
As children whenever we feel sad, uncomfortable or unhappy we are comforted by our parents and the bad feelings are sent away. We learn that happy feelings are good but bad ones must be got rid of.
It’s no wonder then as adults, whenever we feel off we look for a way to make ourselves happier. This can be food, drink, drugs, love etc, rather than accepting that it’s okay and normal to feel down at times and that it will get better.
Relying on willpower to try and limit or stop your wine and chocolate habits is not sustainable in the long term. Willpower is a limited resource, it can be thought of as a muscle that with continuous use becomes tired. So it is difficult to keep on resisting temptation using willpower alone.
When you start to see that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable, sad or any other bad feeling and that you don’t need wine or chocolate to make you feel better, then the need for your treat is less important and it’s easier to use willpower to avoid it.
This may sound simple to do, however I know from personal experience that when you’re tempted, a glass of wine still can feel like the answer.
Remember that learning to be aware and accept your feelings, even when they aren’t easy, is part of growing as a person and builds your self-esteem and confidence.
Start with one small step at a time and don’t be hard on yourself if you slip.
Good luck and enjoy
PS. Have you seen my new online coaching course? Study and be coached by me, online to boost your confidence when and where you like.
Why Willpower Isn’t Enough To Break Your Wine Or Chocolate Habit
Even the word rejection feels hard and hurtful and it triggers in me thoughts about “not being good enough”.
Not being clever enough, pretty enough, thin enough, kind enough or funny enough, they all feel painful.
Being rejected can be a bad experience whether it’s personally or professionally as no one wants to be snubbed or told No.
These rejections are often part of our learning process and lead to a more suitable future opportunity. But when you’re suffering the hurt of a recent rejection, how can you cope and overcome your not good enough thoughts?
ONE – Don’t Overthink It
By reliving the experience and the uncomfortable feelings constantly you are keeping the memory alive in reality and will be unable to let it go. Analyse it to find any lessons you can learn then change your focus to more positive events.
TWO – Forgive Yourself
Blaming yourself and listening to your inner critic will only make you feel worse. So accept responsibility for anything you may have done wrong and then let it go
Three – Forgive The Other Person
This may sound very tricky but rejection is a natural process and you will have rejected people in your time. think back to those experiences and try to empathise with the other person. Remember that forgiving someone allows you to let go of your pain it doesn’t mean you always condone another’s behaviour
Four – It’s Not Always About You
You may never know the reason for your rejection however it is often not to do with you personally but about circumstances or the other person. So accept this and be comfortable with not knowing
Five – Have The Confidence To Try Again
You may think that there’s no point in trying again as you’ll only get the same outcome. However the quickest way to rebuild your confidence is to step out of your comfort zone again and show everyone that you trust and value yourself
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