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.
Body image anxiety is nothing new. For hundreds of years women have been bombarded with images of fashionable bodies and ways to achieve them. Today we have considerable choice and freedom of expression. It’s never been easier to find fashion that fits our shape and size. Yet more than ever women are anxious about the way they look.
So how can we learn to accept, if not love, our body?
Research by Professor Nichola Rumsey, (University of the West of England) shows that children as young as five can show understanding of body image judgments. By seven they are beginning to show body dissatisfaction and by adulthood, 90% of British women have body image anxiety. This appears to be a lifelong issue as many women in their 80’s are still concerned about the way their bodies look.
Experts continue to debate the factors which have led us to have this focus on looks. In the meantime the effects of body image anxiety on women, in terms of stress, eating disorders and even depression, increases. So in a world where many models and celebrities are a size zero how do you stay body positive?
“When I was growing up there wasn’t one woman in my environment who I heard saying something positive about their body. Everything was negative, negative, negative. I accept how I am and make the best of what I have been given. That’s why I only talk positively about my body in front of my daughter.” Kate Winslet
12 ways to love and accept your body:
1. Get new role models that you can actually imitate. Choose them for reasons other than appearance such as their work ethic, generosity or determination.
2. Avoid fashion magazines which contain unrealistic versions of what celebrities and models actually look like.
3. Avoid negative self-talk about your body. Start focusing on the parts you do like.
4. Treat yourself as your best friend. You wouldn’t call your best friend names such as ‘fat’ or ‘wrinkly’ so don’t do it to yourself.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others. You’ll always be putting someone down, either yourself or the other person. Both will have a bad effect on your self-esteem.
6. Eat balanced meals, get moderate exercise and be outside more.
7. Throw away the scales. They are just a number and not a measure of your self-worth. If you want to measure something, measure your generosity, number of friends, education or determination.
8. List the things you like about your appearance. You may find this tricky at first, but with practice, when you look in the mirror you’ll only see the positives.
9. When you receive a compliment respond with a sincere ‘Thank You’, then take it to heart and believe it.
10. Stop trying to achieve your perfect body. It is an unattainable goal that will only make you feel like a disappointment or a failure. If you want to lose weight set yourself a realistic goal you can maintain.
11. Understand that you’re not alone in feeling this way. Many other women are struggling to be happy with the way they look. However it is a goal you can achieve.
12. Remember you are an exceptional and beautiful individual and any ‘flaws’ you have are really just reasons why you are unique.
If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you have a confident body image, please contact me.
I can still remember the excitement and anxiety I felt when I coached my first paying client. I knew all the theory and had practiced on many willing guinea pigs but the fear of “putting myself out there” was still very strong. Which was actually quite ironic, as I was a starting a business as a confidence coach.
The point is though that when you put yourself, your ideas, your skills out there for others to observe and judge it can be terrifying. They’re no longer just your thoughts and ideas but a part of you that you’ve made public instead. It’s this fear of criticism or rejection that prevents people from having the confidence to “put themselves out there”. As a result many great ideas and opinions never get seen.
So if you have a blog, a dream, an idea, an interview, an opinion, a talent that your keeping hidden due to your fear of failure or success. Then read these tips to help you have the confidence to step out into the spotlight.
Remember your self-worth. This means that your opinion as an individual is just as valid as anyone else’s. Even if your view flies in the face of what others think, your ideas are still valid and so deserve to be heard.
Forget the excuses. We can all come up with reasons why we shouldn’t do something. I’m too old, it’s been done before, it costs too much, what if they hate it, and so on.
Go with your gut. If your instinct is telling you that you can do that job, that your writing is great, or that you should promote your business. Then go for it. No one else is as much an expert on you as you are.
Don’t be a perfectionist. If you wait until your idea or you yourself are perfect then you’ll be waiting a very long time. Needing to be perfect is just a way of procrastinating and putting off action. Good enough is good enough, there is no perfect.
Let go. The difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it is simply “letting go”. You need to let go of the need for others to validate your work, the need to prove yourself to others, or the need to be seen as successful. Then you are “putting yourself out there” to express yourself and for your own satisfaction. I can’t think of a better reason than that.
Are you scared of “Putting Yourself Out There” in 2015?
Every year at this time there are articles and blogs about New Years resolutions. Whether you should have them or not, how many is too many and how easy it is to fail at them. Like many other people I enjoy the idea of the fresh possibilities a new year brings, however this tends to fade as I get to mid January. The short days, credit card bills and cold weather mean my great plans to; cutdown on wine, shout less at the children and declutter the bedrooms, feel just that bit too difficult.
So this year I’ve decided to look at these resolutions in a new way. Instead of focusing on the goals I want to achieve, I’m going to focus on what I can let go of and see if that’s any easier.
I’m going to let go of the word ‘Should’ and instead replace it with the word ‘Could’. In my opinion could is a softer word and it feels full of choices. For example; I should drop a dress size by the end of March, sounds harsh and difficult to achieve. Whereas I could drop a dress size by March or I could accept myself as I am appears a lot kinder to me.
I’m also going to let go of producing the disaster movies that I regularly run in my mind. This is my ‘what if’ thinking and I can use it in any scenario resulting in outlandish endings. Imagine I’m stuck in traffic on the school run, an infrequent situation which is easily resolved with the help of friends. However if I let my ‘what if’ films play, the outcome could be unrealistically drastic. Such as the school reporting me to social services and they take my children away or even a stranger kidnapping them! Both of which are ridiculous but ‘what if’ worrying can take you there and causes unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Being my own worst critic is something else I’m going to let go of. Going over past mistakes or perceived current shortcomings is tiring and has no purpose except to make me feel worse. So I’m going to give myself a break and accept that I’m uniquely imperfect.
Finally I’m going to let go of my age. For those that know me, they will have heard me moan about creeping nearer to 50 and it’s affect on my health and the activities I can do. So instead I’m going to let go of the number and it being an excuse to avoid doing things and this year will be boundary free.
I wish you all a very happy New Year and I’d love you to comment on what you’re going to let go of in 2015.
For more information on my programmes please contact me here.
I must buy the perfect Xmas tree and decorate it perfectly with all lights and decorations evenly space
I must decorate the house perfectly inside and out with a traditional with modern touch theme and a balanced look
I must clean the house top to toe before Xmas and woe betide anyone who messes it up!
I must buy the perfect gift for everyone on my list plus spare and wrap them neatly and artistically
I must cook and prepare the perfect turkey and xmas meal, with a few new ideas for side dishes and no lumps in the gravy
I must ensure that everyone is having a great time, no one feels left out and there must be no conflict
Having got as near as possible to all this I will be exhausted, resentful and won’t have enjoyed xmas but to anyone who thanks me, I will just say “It was nothing, anyone could have done it”!
If that sounds at all like you then for this year you need to try these 4 techniques to help perfectionists enjoy xmas. Set yourself free to positively take part in Xmas but also share the workload.
Believe that ‘Good enough’ really is ‘Good enough’ and that to achieve the extra 20% to get perfection is not worth the pain and makes no difference to how they feel about you
Not everything has to be home made, no one will notice or care if you buy the bread sauce or cheat with supermarket gravy. do what ever you need to stay sane and enjoy the day
Ask for help. Guests love to bring something to add to the meal, it makes them feel more involved. When help is offered, have a list of things ready to suggest that your comfortable for others to do. Such as pouring drinks, carving the turkey or handing out canapés. It isn’t a one person job
Accept praise. When a guest leaves and gives you positive feedback on the great job you’ve done, then just say “Thank you” and believe they mean it
Have a fabulous but not quite perfect Xmas and let me know how the techniques work for you, by commenting below.
If you’d like more help with your perfectionist behaviours please contact me.
Do you feel that you’re often taken advantage of and that people tell you that you’re too nice? Perhaps you fear confrontation and so your wants and needs get ignored? This can leave you full of resentment and anger, making you feel anxious and fearful in some areas of your life.
Being Mr Nice Guy shows you care about others feelings, but if you want to ensure your feelings are understood too, you need to become more assertive.
Assertiveness can be incorrectly thought of as meaning aggression and arrogance, the opposite to being nice. It is however a long way from that and if you imagine a line with passive at one end and aggressive at the other, then assertiveness sits around the middle.
An assertive person can be caring, kind and polite but also able to stand up for themselves when people try to take advantage of them. If you’d like to be more assertive in certain situations then start by practising your assertiveness skills with the following steps:
Decide on your personal boundaries. What are you prepared to accept from friends, colleagues and family and when is it important for you to make a stand?
Develop a way of saying No to others that you are comfortable with, without defending yourself or apologising too much.
Don’t always put yourself last. Otherwise people will start to do it too. Sometimes your needs and wants should be at the top of the list.
Replace your feelings of fear of authority with respect, which has to work both ways.
Don’t accept verbal abuse, aggressive behaviour or unfounded criticism.
Learn to be aware of your feelings around other people and start to practise verbalising them.
Express your opinion without worrying about what others think, your opinion is of just as much value as theirs even if they don’t agree with you.
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.
It’s still important that you treat others well and see situations from both yours and their perspective and be considerate and polite. That doesn’t mean though that you should allow others to take advantage of you or treat you as an inferior.
Developing this life skill of assertiveness will enable you to feel stronger and calmer in difficult situations and lead to greater respect from your friends, family and colleagues.
To find out more about assertiveness and for support to get started please contact me.
If you’ve struggled with standing up for yourself I’d love to hear your comments about this blog and about whats worked for you.
The fact that gratitude is a way to happiness is not a new concept, it’s been preached about for centuries. However recent research has shown that being grateful actually changes the brains chemistry and makes us happier.
Remembering to be grateful every day for the things and people we have in our lives can be difficult, especially when we’re all so busy. So why not try this 30 day gratitude challenge. I can’t take the credit for it’s invention as I found it at the ‘Positively Present’ website. I thought it was a great idea to keep the focus on gratitude each day.
The challenge requires you to take a photo every day for 30 days of something you’re grateful for, that is inspired by the prompts above. If you want to you can share the photo on social media with the hashtag #Gratitude30 or just keep it to remind you of what you’re grateful for.
Vince Lombardi (a successful american football coach) said:
“Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence”
In general we are attracted to those people who we believe to be confident, particularly as someone who is confident is often described as charismatic. One reason for this could be that being around a confident or charismatic person is likely to make us feel more confident.
So if you have a particular behaviour or goal you want to develop your self-assurance in, then a good first step is to find a role model who is already demonstrating it. Spend some time with this person and let their confidence rub off on you.
The converse of this is also true. If you spend a lot of your time around people who lack confidence you will find that your own low confidence levels will be reinforced. This mutual behaviour of staying in your comfort zone and not taking any risks can feel safe and secure but doesn’t allow you to move forward and achieve your goals.
This doesn’t mean you should drop your less confident friends and only be around more successful people. It is important though to be aware of those friends and colleagues you spend most time with and how they affect your confidence. Then you can keep a good balance between positive and negative effects.
To learn more about building your confidence, to ask any questions or comment on this post, please contact me.