Imagine a work friend has invited you to a party at a bar, you know one other work colleague going, but most of the guests will be family and friends that you’ve never met.
Do you feel excited and looking forward to the opportunity to chat to some new people? Perhaps you feel nervous about what to wear, what you will say to these strangers and what they will think of you?
Caring about what others think about you is an issue for most people, and it is because you are hard wired to copy behaviours from birth. As you grow up you learn that it’s okay to have different behaviours and emotions from other people. However some people continue to seek approval and validation from others.
The problem with this is that if your self-worth is based on other people’s opinions it will get knocked regularly, no matter how hard you try to impress people. Their opinions will be based on different factors, many of which you have no control over. As well as this if you are focused on avoiding disapproval and criticism, you may avoid making decisions and miss out on opportunities as a result.
So to take back control of your self-esteem and confidence you need to be able to accept yourself and provide your own positive feedback. Here are some tips that my clients have found helpful, that you can start using today:
1. Become aware of when you are seeking approval. Start to notice when you are considering others opinion (or your assumption of their opinion) and it is getting in your way. Try to identify the triggers for these thoughts and how you behave as a result.
2. Build self-acceptance. Keep a daily or weekly record in which you write things that you’ve done and are proud of, choices you’ve made, things you like about yourself and anything else that feels good to you
3. Self-check your decisions. Rather than asking for validation on any ideas or decisions you have, test if they feel right to you and be proud of your choice
4. Evaluate before committing. When you take on a new task make sure you are doing it for your benefit not to get approval or avoid disapproval
5. Feel okay with not knowing what other people think. Their thoughts may have more to do with their past experiences or bias anyway and you can never be sure they are being completely honest. So it is easier to relax and accept that you simply may never know
If all this seems too overwhelming for you then just remember this quote from Ethel Barrett
“We would worry far less about what others think of us if we realised how seldom they do”
My husband and I are quite different in our values and approach to life, that leads to some interesting discussions, the opportunity to learn from another perspective and not surprisingly quite a few fights. Over the years we’ve been together we’ve learnt some important boundaries we need to keep in place to ensure we fight fair.
Her are 5 of our tips that you might like to try:
1. Avoid blame. Blaming each other for causing the fight is not helpful, instead talk about the facts of the situation and how you felt, rather than “you always..” or “you never…”
2. Avoid criticism or name calling. Anger can cause us to lash out with names and words that we wouldn’t normally use. However using them may cause long term damage to your relationship, so try to remain respectful and honest
3. Do you want to be right or do you want to win? In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to focus on a resolution rather than winning but being the victor is a short term gain
4. Listen to the other person. In a fight you can get so focused on your own righteousness that you don’t hear the others point of view. Rather than defending yourself or misinterpreting the others point, try truly listening
5. Say what you want. Instead of complaining about what your other half isn’t doing try making a constructive comment and asking for what you do want. For example; you may complain “I hate it when your late home and I don’t know where you are” however it would be more constructive to say “I would really like you to let me know if you’re going to be late and about what time you’ll be home”
I hope you find these tips helpful and good luck in fighting fair!
I often read in self development articles how important it is to accept myself as I am, with all my weaknesses and strengths. I understand that all of us are flawed and that’s what we have in common as well as what makes us unique. Reading this however is the easy part, actually learning to believe it and live it can be more difficult.
As I’ve become older I’ve learnt not to be scared of showing the real me. Whether that’s accepting myself physically or forgiving myself for mistakes I’ve made. As a result of this journey and of working with my clients to achieve self acceptance, I’ve learnt some tips which I’d like to share with you:
Remind yourself of your good qualities. What do you physically like about yourself or what do your friends say they like about you?
Tell yourself “I am enough”. Stop the self-talk that tells you you’re not attractive enough, not smart enough or strong enough and replace it with new beliefs such as:
I deserve to be happy
I am enough just as I am
I am just as valuable as everyone else
Stop trying to be perfect. This follows on from number 2 and is about not striving to achieve high expectations of yourself that can only lead to failure. Instead set realistic goals which are a challenging and achievable
Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes whether it’s missing out on a great opportunity because you were scared, not speaking up for yourself when you wanted to, or doing something you’re not proud of. Feeling angry and blaming yourself won’t help, instead try forgiving yourself and resolve to do better next time
Respect yourself. This is about valuing yourself and thinking for yourself. Trusting your intuition, forming your own opinions and not following others or comparing to others
I hope you find these tips useful in learning to accept yourself and if you’d like to read more of my blogs please like me on Facebook or follow me on Linkedin.
If you’d like to discuss your individual needs then please contact me for a free initial chat
Are you one of those people who hates to leave the house with dishes unwashed or clutter lying around? Do you find yourself constantly picking up after others and feeling stressed when cupboards are overflowing?
You may think that’s a sign you’re a perfectionist or perhaps on your way to developing OCD, however Karen Kingston in her book ‘Clear your clutter with Feng Shui’ explains why we feel so impacted by disorder in our home environment.
If your looking for inspiration to get rid of a lot of your old stuff then think about these 5 ways clutter is affecting your life:
It makes you tired and lethargic. Clutter is stagnant energy which can make you feel lethargic, a good clear out will release that energy to increase your vitality
It can keep you in the past. Having reminders of your past memories can be a lovely thing. Too many reminders can keep you stuck there though and so unable to take on new opportunities or go out of your comfort zone
It can add to weight issues. Research has shown that those who live in cluttered houses are often overweight. As you start to look after your surroundings then you are more likely to look after yourself
It can make you procrastinate. The presence of clutter and the feeling that you ‘should’ get rid of it can lead to procrastination in other areas of your life
It increases stress levels. Research by UCLA found that womens stress levels peaked when they had to deal with physical clutter. This is due to their senses becoming overwhelmed, causing stress and an inability to think clearly. Just making small changes to the amount of clutter can dramatically reduce this stress
If this has motivated you to have a clear out in some areas of your life, then why not try this tip to make a small step towards a decluttered environment:
Set up a small junk drawer for items that you’re not sure whether to get rid of or not. Ensure that you only use it sparingly and clear it out regularly. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to then discard things and how good it makes you feel.
If you’d like to read more articles on coping with stress and anxiety and building confidence please like my Facebook page and follow me on Linkedin.
Do you find that your head is often full of random thoughts and worries, buzzing around and not allowing you to feel relaxed and at peace? Perhaps you would like to stop focusing on the past or the future and whats next on your to do list? In this hectic society wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take some time to just live in the moment?
This type of thinking can be described as worry, which is when we are overly focused on a particular issue or problem. How we worry is either positively, to try and find a solution and take action, or negatively when we become trapped in the thoughts and don’t do anything to resolve the issue.
Alternatively it could be anxiety which is that feeling of panic or dread that something is going to go wrong. Stress is again slightly different in being the bodies physical reaction to a perceived threat, a hangover from our primitive response to danger of ‘fight or flight’.
There are many self-help books and articles that have suggestions on how to manage any of these thoughts and behaviours. However if you’re looking for a quick and simple change that you can put into place effectively for just one minute a day, then try the following exercise.
Mindfulness has it’s background in Buddhism but is a rapidly growing practice found to be therapeutic in many areas of life but particularly with stress and worry. It was defined by Kabat-Zinn in 1994 as:
“paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment , and non-judgementally.”
The exercise is Mindful Breathing Awareness, I find it easy to do and can be done anywhere as it takes only 1 minute. It enables you to learn how to bring your thoughts back from distractions to the present moment and so feel calmer and relaxed.
Sit with your back straight and neck and shoulders relaxed
Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing, just noticing it rather than trying to change it. Saying ‘in’ and ‘out’ in your head can help
Notice any sensations or feelings
Your mind will drift to thoughts, every time it does bring your mind back to your breathing
The purpose is to be able to regularly pull your thoughts back to the present moment not to have a clear mind
Practice this exercise for a minute a day and I’m sure you will find a difference. I also find it effective at night if I’m struggling to sleep.
I’d love to hear how you get on so please use the comments box below. To read more of my articles please like my Facebook page and follow me on linked.
Is Your Head Full Of Thoughts That You Can’t Switch Off? Try This Simple Exercise
Jane’s husband had an affair and despite her forgiving him and trying to rebuild their marriage, he eventually left her for the other women. Two years later Jane has rebuilt her life but is still filled with resentment about her husband leaving and losing the future that they had planned.
When Jane came to see me she was struggling to feel fulfilled and content with her current life as she was stuck in negative emotions about the past that drained and disempowered her. Jane couldn’t understand why she still hadn’t let go of her anger and resentment even though she’d tried. I explained that when we have negative emotions and habits that we can’t change it can be because there are some benefits or advantages to keeping them that we may not be aware of.
That may sound unlikely to you, but imagine a time when you’ve held onto resentment or pain, could you have reasons for not letting them go?
You get to keep the moral high ground. Feeling that you are in the right and the other person is wrong can give a boost to your self-esteem in the short term,
You get comfort and attention from others. This is referred to as a ‘victim mentality’ and is the enjoyment of feeling important to others and having their support
You don’t have to step out of your comfort zone. Focusing on the past rather than the future can feel safe and familiar rather than the scary unknown.
Once Jane had understood what she gained from holding onto the pain of her marriage breakdown she was ready to take steps to finally let go.
Look into the future. Ask yourself what will the be the long term affects on my life if I hold onto these feelings? How will it affect my relationships and my happiness?
Don’t feed the memories. Ruminating on the situation just reinforces the memory rather than letting it go
Forgive the person or the action. This doesn’t mean you condone them or their behaviour it just allows you to let go of the pain
Focus on the things you can control. The past is outside your circle of influence so instead find positive things you can control
Be grateful. There is always something to be grateful for and it maybe that the difficult experience itself could have led to some positives in your life
Following these steps doesn’t mean that you will lose all your negative feelings straight away. However practicing them regularly will reduce how often they pop up and their power to affect you.
As for Jane; she is no longer my client as she has learnt to control and let go of her resentment by focusing on these actions herself. Her life hasn’t dramatically changed but she now feels enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose in living it.
If you enjoyed reading this article please leave a comment in the box below and if you’d like to read some more blogs please like my Facebook page or visit my website.
Wanting to be the best and achieve the best is a great motivator in work and life. Ask any sportsman and as you’d expect they are focused on winning, by performing at the highest standard, avoiding mistakes and beating the competition. Society rewards their high performance with financial rewards and fame and the same is true of careers in business.
Whilst healthy ambition is a trait to be admired perfectionism takes it a step further and has been defined by Brene Brown (researcher and author) as “a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame”.
This implies that a perfectionist is focused on others opinions and pleasing others rather than on their own self-improvement. They will never be content with what they have achieved and are driven by ‘shoulds’ and a fear of disappointing others.
The affect this has on their performance at work is:
They procrastinate and avoid starting jobs in case they can’t deliver them perfectly
Their confidence and self-esteem is low as they require external validation and whatever they achieve isn’t good enough
A fear of mistakes mean they spend time achieving 100% rather than the ‘good enough’ 80% which reduces time available for innovative new ideas
They see asking for help as a weakness which can lead to stress issues and a lack of collaboration
Teamwork is difficult as it’s hard to bond and trust a person who can’t be related to
The danger is that this addiction to being perfect can only result in exhaustion, high stress levels and burnout. However by changing some beliefs such as ‘I am what I achieve and how well I achieve it” and starting new habits a perfectionist can learn to be more realistic in their expectations of themselves.
If you have an employee or colleague who self-sabotages themselves with perfectionism, they probably won’t ask for help but you can still be a support by proactively exploring with them their work ethics and your expectations of their performance versus their own.
Other tips that perfectionists can practice are:
Accepting that 100% can’t always be achieved and in many situations 80% is enough
Stop black and white thinking, for example: “I’m either the best at my job or I’ll get fired”
Take small steps. If you procrastinate about a job because you’re scared about making a mistake, then break the job down into smaller steps
Learn to love and accept your imperfections, you will still be loved and respected
Challenge yourself to take risks and make decisions
Show others your weaknesses, it makes you seem more human and therefore likeable.
Breaking the addiction of perfectionism does take time and effort but try to focus on self-compassion and remember that this time practice does not make perfect!
For more ideas on helping perfectionists and building confidence please contact me .I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the subject of perfectionism, in the comment box below.
As a successful business women or professional, any outsider observing you would probably presume that you have a high level of confidence. However from my experience as a confidence coach, I find that the majority of people have at least one part of their lives where they feel self-doubt.
This can be about specific situations such as; speaking up in meetings, presenting a sales pitch, dating men or large social gatherings. Alternatively it can be more generic such as their ability to perform at work in comparison to their colleagues or anxiety in any social environment.
Self-confidence is all about belief in your value in this world, in your abilities and personal qualities. It is also a magical force that allows you to move from thinking about doing something to actually acting on it, even when you don’t know if you’ll be successful.
The good news about growing your confidence is that scientific research * has shown that approximately 40% of our confidence levels are within our control. This means that you can choose to build your confidence by learning new skills and making changes in your habits and thinking style. To get you started here are some of the steps from my self-esteem and confidence coaching programme that I use successfully with my clients:
1. Develop self-awareness. By understanding the specific situations in which you feel self-doubt you’ll have clarity on where to begin focusing your changes and be able to identify any barriers or causes. To help with this you could complete a journal recording the times when you feel a lack of confidence or self-belief and the details of the incidents. Then take time to review your notes and look for any themes. Alternatively try my unique Self Confidence Quiz.
2. Overcome a fear of failure. Everyone can think of excuses to avoid doing things so if you find yourself doing this, challenge yourself with these questions “What does success in this situation look like to me”, “What am I afraid will happen if I fail”, “If I wasn’t completely successful what would I learn?” and ‘If I wasn’t completely successful what would I do next”. Then make the courageous choice to take the first step.
3.Challenge a fear of disapproval. It’s natural for us to seek approval from others as it gives us a feeling of security, but if you find this need is negatively affecting how you think and behave it’s time for a change. Be aware of how you feel about a situation, look for times when you are going against your gut feeling or feel uncomfortable with your decision. Then ask yourself “What is stopping me from following my intuition?” and “If I knew that my decisions and my feelings were as important as anyone else’s what would I do?”
4. Be assertive. This important life skill follows on from the fear of disapproval, in particular for those with a fear of confrontation. Assertiveness is about ensuring that your feelings and needs are heard and they’re seen as just as important as others. Don’t avoid confrontation but instead explain the facts and how you feel about them in a calm way. No one can argue with your feelings, as they’re yours. Why not give it a try?
5. Replace a fear of authority. Many confident people can lose their self-belief when they interact with a senior or more experienced person. The secret to coping with this is to remember that your opinion as an individual is as valid as anyone’s and to behave with the same respect, as you would expect from him or her.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. This has to be one of the biggest wastes of your time and energy, because you are only seeing the others performance at face value and people are prone to exaggerate or lie. So any comparison is unfair and you would be much better putting your efforts into being the best you can be instead
7. Avoid the word should. Try replacing it with the word could which in my opinion is a lot softer and suggests choices. Whereas should is harsher and a great weapon to beat yourself up with. For example “I should have stayed late at work last night, the others did, I probably looked lazy” versus ‘I could have stayed at work late last night, but I’d finished the important stuff and needed some me time” Which one would be more positive to your confidence levels?
8. It’s not all about you. It may surprise you to hear that 80% of the time you are interacting with an individual or group they are focused not on you but themselves. So when you’re speaking in a meeting or on a first date, the other people are far more likely to be thinking about what they are going to say next or what they’re having for tea than judging you.
9. Silence your inner critic. This is that voice in your head that we all have, which puts doubts and negatives in your mind such as “you couldn’t do that, you’re not good enough” or “why did you say that it sounded really stupid”. As a first step to silencing the voice just be aware of when you hear it and what it says. With time you can start to either challenge the voice or just notice it and let it go.
10. Practice self-compassion. This is about treating yourself with the same caring and kindness that you would show to your best friend, rather than continually judging, comparing and punishing yourself. All of us are imperfect and it is your unique imperfections that you need to first accept and then love.
I hope these suggestions help you to let go of the need for validation and acceptance from others and to be able to express yourself and put yourself out there purely for your own satisfaction and success. Good luck
As the month of February rolls in, I start to notice all the signs of the approaching Day of Love. Even though I’m not keen on the commercial hype I do still get drawn in to buying one of those tacky cards with romantic verses that I would never naturally use.
What I do love though is the idea of taking a day to really celebrate and be grateful for having love in my life. It’s just a shame that this focus is never applied to the greatest love of all – self-compassion.
Imagine taking a day to celebrate all the things you love about yourself and to be grateful for all the positive strengths and skills you have. You could give yourself a day off from the constant judging and evaluating that we habitually do and instead practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion, according to Dr Kirsten Neff, is made up of 3 components:
Self-kindness – Being kind,gentle and understanding to ourselves, especially when we’re suffering
Common humanity – Being aware that we’re not alone in struggling and suffering grief, rejection and failure, rather that it is part of our experience as humans
Mindfulness – Observing life as it is at this moment without judgement and whilst accepting our thoughts and feelings
Self-compassion is therefore clearly different from self-pity, which means you are so overwhelmed by your problems that you forget others struggle too. It’s also not being self-indulgent as it doesn’t mean ignoring problems or responsibilities, but being kind to yourself whilst struggling with them.
If there was such a self-compassion day, what could you do to make the day special? Well first I would reccomend you imagine what you might do for a close friend who was in need of compassion and try it on yourself. You might want to;
Put time aside for focusing on yourself and think of all the good things about you
Stop being self-critical and using negative self-talk
Do something that you really like, such as a long bath, reading, listening to music
Remind yourself of the mistakes and tough times that other people have been through, it’s not just you who gets it wrong.
Try practicing a mindfulness exercise, to keep focused on the present and give your mind a break
If you are on your own this February 14th why not change the day into a celebration of you and treat yourself to some self-compassion. Or if you have a romantic day planned with your partner you could nominate a different date for just you.
Enjoy your day and I’d love to know how you get on.
I recently read an article by ‘Positively Present‘ in which the author challenged herself to stop complaining for 24 hours, and it turns out she found it very difficult.
You may not think of yourself as a big complainer, but could you take a whole day off complaining? It’s not just the moans we make to others but also the many whines we say internally to ourselves. If you decide to try the experience yourself then here are 4 tips to help you:
1. Reality Check. How often do you catch your inner voice making complaints like “Why is there so much traffic?” or “It’s freezing today” or “Oh no the alarm already, I’m so tired”. Try a reality check, are you really freezing or is it just cold today? Is the traffic really a big problem or just irritating? And yes the alarms gone off but are you tired or do you just need to get on with the day? This low level complaining is really just a negative commentary on your daily life which you could choose to change to a more positive outlook.
2. Presence. Do you find yourself drifting off in to the future with ‘what if’ worries filling your mind, such as what you’ve still got to do for the rest of the day? Perhaps you also analyse the past and complain about things others have done or said? We all do it, but this sort of complaining will make no difference to what has happened or will happen and just leaves you feeling negative. It’s far better to focus on what your feeling, seeing and doing now and make the best of the present moment.
3. Reinforcing Complaints. It’s nice to know sometimes that others are having a tough day too. But if your automatic response to a friends enquiry about how you are; is to complain about being so busy or how tired you feel, then not only might it pull their mood down, but you end up in a mutual moaning session. This is fine to do when things are genuinely tough but can be draining for both of you if it’s a regular event.
4. Is it in your control? If the issue is within your control to change such as an extra jacket if you’re ‘freezing’ or leaving earlier if there’s too much traffic. Then taking action rather than complaining will resolve your problem quicker. However if your moan is something you can’t change such as “is it only Tuesday today?” then you’ll find things less stressful if you just accept the situation rather than letting it pull you down.
Good luck with the challenge and whether you manage the 24 hours without complaining or not (I didn’t!) Your increased awareness of when you do complain will hopefully enable you to reduce it in the future and leave more time for feeling positive.
Please let me know your thoughts on this article and how you got on by commenting below.