We all have our coping mechanisms for dealing with uncomfortable negative emotions. Whether it’s food, wine, exercise, anger or sex… that isn’t important.
It’s that thing you turn to when you feel stressed, sad, frightened, anxious, confused or simply bored.
In my case, I would usually reach out to food or wine for imagined support.
It used to provide me with a temporary sense of calm.
Even if it lasted just for a few short minutes, it was soothing.
I’d hazard a guess that many of you do the same, because
facing negative feelings is difficult and scary.
Using food or alcohol to bottle them up and then simply
ignoring them often seems like a much easier solution.
However, while it might be easier, it is also short-lived.
Emotions are obstinate things – especially if they’re negative.
They refuse to stay silent for long.
Even if you turn them away time and time again,
they keep on coming back and knocking at your door.
That is because all feelings, however uncomfortable
or distressing, are messages.
Their purpose is to inform you about your thinking at that moment.
An uncomfortable feeling just suggests your thinking is ‘off’ and shouldn’t be acted on.
But, If you suppress your feelings all you’re doing is ensuring you stay in uncomfortable thoughts longer than you would have.
We are all human, we all feel a range of emotions,
pleasant and unpleasant.
At times we all feel insecure, not good enough,
sad, unloved, unworthy, this is a normal part of being human.
These are normal, natural emotions.
It is okay to feel this way.
It is not wrong.
These emotions do not define our worth.
We don’t need to suppress or hide or deny them.
Instead, we need to recognise these emotions
and respectfully acknowledge them.
Your feelings come from your thinking and it is
okay to let yourself feel them.
They are an important part of your very being.
So instead of trying to block out every uncomfortable
emotion an alternative is to simply
accept and observe your emotions.
Observing your negative emotions simply means allowing them to be,
resisting the urge to get rid of the pain and not judging yourself for having these feelings.
When you accept negative emotions,
theyy are nowhere near as destructive,
uncomfortable or challenging
as you may have imagined.
Put simply, it doesn’t feel so bad.
Think of all the uncomfortable emotions
that you automatically respond to with
your soothing mechanism without even a moment’s consideration.
By giving emotions some space to be
and exist you allow new thoughts and therefore new emotions to take their place.
To do this I suggest when you feel uncomfortable you stop for a minute
before you turn to food/wine/etc for comfort. Observe the feeling, recognise that you don’t need to do anything about it and let it go.
You shouldn’t be afraid of your emotions.
Trust me, they don’t mean you any harm.
They’re simply trying to inform you about your thinking
and they can only do that if you listen.
Listening to your emotions will enable you to discover your true, resilient self.
When I talk about resilience, people’s reaction is often to think about the British stiff upper lip and ‘pushing on through’.
But that’s not what resilience really is. To be resilient is to recover quickly from difficulties rather than to not be affected by them.
I can think of a number of difficulties I’ve had in my life such as; divorce, bereavement and illness – as I’m sure you can. Some of which I struggled to recover from and others I was more resilient to.
Being resilient also applies to less dramatic life situations like not getting a job you interview for, falling out with a friend or your daughter being a ‘typical teenager’.
When life gets difficult or unwanted things happen to you, how do you react? Do you fall apart, do you get through it and then fall apart or do you recover quickly?
Score yourself from 0 to 10 on how resilient you think you are. Where 1 = I have very little resilience and need a lot of time and support to recover and 10 = I’m very resilient and can bounce back from problems easily.
If you’ve scored below a 10 you’ll probably find these tips helpful:
The 10 Tips To Building Your Resilience
Look at the situation as an observer, is it a genuine problem or could it be your perspective that makes it feel like that?
Think of the different possible solutions and only focus on those you have control over
Ask for help and don’t be afraid to show vulnerability
Stop ‘what if’ thinking. It is almost always unhelpful at finding a solution and will only make you worry more and be stressed
Take time out from the emotional stress to recover after a situation
Develop a support network, which you can turn to at difficult times
Avoid replaying the situation in your mind. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between reality and imagination, so you’ll just bring the thoughts and feelings back again and again
Choose to be optimistic and if you don’t know what the future holds choose the positive outcome
Keep a journal of situations, how you felt, what you learnt and the positives from them
Practice self-compassion. If you are punishing yourself, it means you’re hurting. Show yourself some compassion instead.
When I present to organisations and companies about confidence I often question the attendees as to how confident they are in their abilities at work.
I ask them to score their expertise from 0 to 10 with 0 being – I’m totally incapable of doing my job and 10 meaning – I’m extremely capable.
When I average the scores of men and women I can guarantee that the men’s average score will be higher than the women’s average.
This is backed up by research in which they questioned students on their abilities in science. They asked a group of male and female students to rate their skills in science and then gave them a science quiz to answer.
Unsurprisingly the male students rated their skills higher on average than the females. But more concerning was that the women rated themselves on average 20% lower in abilities than their test results scored.
So why is this and what can you do to change it?
There are multiple factors that explain why generally women have a lower self-belief and are more risk averse than men. For example biology, upbringing and social conditioning.
This childhood conditioning to be polite, modest and ‘nice’ means it feels uncomfortable to recognise our abilities. we worry that we sound boastful or like a bragger.
Add to this our tendency to compare ourselves to others and it’s understandable that we underplay our abilities.
So how can you recognise and acknowledge your talents?
Break your job down in to it’s various elements/skills and score yourself on those. Being specific helps get a more realistic perspective of how you’re doing.
Don’t undermine your abilities with negative comments about yourself
Once you’ve recognised your expertise and achievements challenge yourself to talk positively about them at the next opportunity.
If you’d like help and support to boost your confidence or have greater satisfaction at work then do book a free Discovery Call with me on www.speakwithjo.com
Confidence coaching is now a proven and major part of both career and personal development.
As a coach, I see my role to be about creating a safe and comfortable space for clients to explore aspects of their career and lives. So they can see things from a different perspective and overcome their issues and self-doubts.
If you asked me what I thought you would get out of confidence coaching, without knowing your personal challenges I’d say:
You’ll see yourself more clearly. Research has shown that it’s difficult for us to see ourselves with real clarity. You could be assuming what others think about you and labelling yourself based on your inner critic. I’d help you to develop real self-awareness, which is essential for you to be effective and fulfilled in your career and life.
An objective perspective. As a coach I offer the opportunity to give you a different perspective on situations and individuals without the baggage of being close to you or being involved in any judgement on your career or life choices. Changing your perspective can really reduce the pressure and anxiety you put on yourself.
Change mindset habits. We all fall into habits of behaviour and mindset that we may not be able to see or change. A confidence coach has strategies and techniques to help you identify and overcome them.
Feel supported and challenged. I believe my job as a coach is to play different roles according to the individual and the situation. I can be a supporter, cheerleader, challenger, thought interrupter and trainer.
Achieve results quickly. You may feel you can or ought to be able to make these personal and professional changes yourself. But as a coach I can ensure you not only achieve your goals in weeks rather than years but can go on to sustain those changes.
As a client of mine said about her Confidence Coaching Programme:
Jo the programme has EXCEEDED my expectations. I expected tips and strategies but what it’s also given me is a total CHANGE of MINDSET. I’m calmer, braver and curious rather than stressed or intimidated. I’m optimistic that these changes will stay with me, thank you”
Life can feel hard work at times with the pressures that we and society put on ourselves. If you’d like to step off the hamster wheel and take some time to reflect on where you are now and what you’d like to be different.
Today, I wanted to share with you a story about Socrates’ 3 questions and how they can help build your confidence. The story comes from this article by Marc and Angel
A couple of thousand years ago in ancient Greece, the great philosopher Socrates was strolling contemplatively around a community garden when a neighbour walked up to him and said, “You’re never in a million years going to believe what I just heard about our mutual friend…”
“Wait,” Socrates interrupted, putting his hand up in the air. “Before you continue with this story, your words must pass the triple filter test?”
“The triple filter test,” Socrates said.
The neighbour just stared at him with a blank expression.
Socrates continued, “The first filter is Truth. Are you absolutely sure the story you are about to tell me is true?”
“Well, no,” the neighbour said, “I literally just heard it from someone else I know.”
“Ah-ha…” Socrates quickly replied, “then let’s move on to the second filter. Is what you are about to share Good in any way, shape or form?”
“No… no,” the neighbour said, “This story is actually quite…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Socrates interrupted him again, “Ahh… so it may not be true and it is definitely not good.”
“That’s right,” the neighbour assured him.
“Well, you may still be able to save yourself,” Socrates said. “Is anything about the story you want to share Useful?”
The neighbour stared blankly again for a moment and then said, “No, I suppose it’s not really…”
“So, you want to tell me something that may not be true, is definitely not good, and is not useful to know?” Socrates asked. The neighbour looked down at the ground and nodded. “Well, you have no good reason to tell me this story, and you have no good reason to believe it yourself,” Socrates added, as the neighbour dolefully walked away.
In many ways, not too much has changed since ancient Greece, especially when it comes to the stories we tell ourselves and each other.
How does this relate to our confidence?
The stories we tell ourselves about our confidence, especially on difficult days, can really hold us back. Because what we’re thinking in that moment projects out to be what we experience. For example as; not being good enough or it went wrong last time or what if I sound stupid?
When you’re in an uncomfortable situation in which you lack confidence, you may tell yourself stories from the past or predict stories in the future.
But are those stories a) true b) something good or c) helpful? I would suggest there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
What’s happened in the past or could happen in the future doesn’t define your experience today. Because a) your thinking is different b) the resources you have are different and c) the situation is different
Next time you lack confidence in a situation try asking yourself Socrates 3 questions and it might reduce the power of those unhelpful stories.
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What’s your childhood experience of taking criticism?
Think back, do any of these sound like situations you were criticised in?
Shouted at for breaking something or making a mess
Laughed at for not ‘being cool’ or not achieving at school
Labelled on your school report as lazy or disruptive
Undermined for your ideas and dreams
These first experiences of negative feedback can really affect how we take criticism in the future.
I remember my older brother (by 5 years) being really told off several times by my Dad. That memory was enough to make me desperately want to avoid being shouted at by him and to not take criticism well all my life.
We often interpret criticism as being a rejection of us as a person rather than a criticism of a particular behaviour or action.
Or we may think we’re being personally labelled rather than being given feedback on our behaviour. For example; being criticised for not delivering on time comes over as ‘you’re not good enough and you’re disorganised’ rather than what you did was not good enough and disorganised.
How do you react to criticism?
Get angry and defensively argue back, do you feel the need to be right or to get your own back?
Think it’s unfair and that you’re always being blamed, but rather than arguing back, act as if you’ve taken it on board? Then later subtly let your anger out in little comments and barbs
Agree that you’re at fault and apologise profusely, whilst feeling you can’t help it if you’re not good enough
You may use some or all of these approaches and the key thing to notice is that in all of them the person doesn’t appear to have really listened and clarified what the criticism is really about.
4 Secrets to Taking Criticism Confidently
Listen carefully to determine whether you believe the criticism is fair and true,. Ask clarifying questions if necessary.to make your decision
Agree with the criticism, for example; “yes I did make a mess of that piece of work”. But try, to avoid over apologising or promising to radically change. Instead, think about how you could together negotiate a change. “I agree that I should have spoken up for you in that meeting, how could we ensure I feel comfortable to do it next time?”
When the criticism is untrue it becomes more tricky as there’re our memories of when we were a child and couldn’t speak up reinforcing our feelings. Plus if you’ve left criticism unchallenged in other situations then that is there too. Again the first step is to listen and clarify what is being said
If you feel unfairly criticised then it’s important to speak up rather than accept the criticism and feel resentful. You can do this with phrases like:
I really must disagree with you, that wasn’t my responsibility, so lets discuss where the problems came from
I’m really surprised you think that, can you explain how you got that impression?
Even if the criticism you receive is badly given, unjustified or given with a negative intention. You can still respond in an effective way, which allows you to speak up for yourself and maintain your relationship with the other person.
Criticism is a sensitive subject for most people and if you struggle to assert yourself when you receive it, do contact me for some support. You can book a free call at www.speakwithjo.
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When a client says “I need help with being more assertive” I’m always interested to find out about their current communication style.
Because what I’ve found is that we generally fall into one of four different communication behaviours.
I’ve given each communication style a descriptive name – which one/s do you resonate with?
She’s highly competitive and needs to prove her superiority
She over reacts verbally and possibly physically
She doesn’t realise how intimidating she is as people resent her but don’t usually speak up to her
She’s very passive and rather than speak up will opt out, avoid or run away when she’s uncomfortable
She has a victim mindset blaming others and situations rather than taking responsibility for her choices and decisions
She puts herself down and can be draining to others
She doesn’t speak up but is aggressive indirectly
She needs to control others and plays on their guilt to avoid rejection
She seems very nice but you can soon feel uncomfortable around her
She respects both herself and others
She accepts her strengths and weaknesses and takes responsibility for her actions
She’s not reliant on others approval so responds authentically
Do you recognise yourself and others in these descriptions?
To demonstrate how the different personalities might behave in a situation here’s an example:
Imagine you’ve come home late from a long day at work. Everyone’s at home, your husbands on the sofa watching tv and your kids are absorbed in various devices. The kitchen’s a mess and the tea hasn’t been started yet. How would you react?
Aggressive Amy – would blow her top shouting about how unfair it is and how lazy they are. She’d refuse to make tea and everyone would be upset and angry
Doormat Dawn – wouldn’t say anything but would mutter to herself about how they always take her for granted. Then she’d clear up and make the tea feeling like a martyr and swallowing her resentment
Manipulative Mary – also wouldn’t speak up but would show her anger indirectly through body language and slamming things. She’d clear up and make tea, either very simply or very late
Assertive Amy – would speak up calmly and firmly about how she felt and ask specifically for the help that she needed from them all
Can you see how the first three caused conflict and resentment but also didn’t actually ask for any help?
Amy’s assertive response, however, was to say how she felt, without blaming and to give specific details of what she’d like to happen.
It’s quite normal to move from one style to another in different situations. However, the Assertive Amy communication style is the most likely to avoid conflict and resentment and maintain a good relationship.
If you’d like to find out more about being assertive and communicating with confidence. Then just reply to this email or book a free Discovery Call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Live confidently and courageously,
Background credit to Anne Dickson ‘A Woman In Her Own Right’
Before I talk about the ways in which women sabotage themselves at work. I want to make it clear that there are multiple reasons why women are held back in their career. Their own mindset is only one of them.
It’s also true that of all the clients I have worked with across the world, I’ve yet to find one who doesn’t self-sabotage in some way.
Your personal challenges may be subtle or more substantial but they will be having an impact on your career success.
From my work with clients and the research that I’ve done. I have identified the 3 most common ways in which women sabotage their career potential.
Do you resonate with any of them?
Striving for perfection – When we strive for perfection we are setting ourselves up to fail and because failure is one of our biggest fears, it can lead to procrastination. Whether it’s delivering a report to a perfect level or not speaking up because you aren’t 100% sure you’re right. Perfection is a mirage so let it go.
My tip is: to strive instead for excellence, which means outstanding or very good and is far more realistic than perfection
Fear of being a bragger – if you expect to be recognised for your hard work and delivery alone I’m afraid it’s going to be very unlikely. These days you also need to demonstrate confidence, impact and visibility as well. That means sharing your successes both internally with your seniors and peers and also externally in the industry.
My tip is: find an authentic and comfortable way to talk about your successes. This could be sharing your learning from a success collaboratively with colleagues and your boss. Or sharing team wins and your role in it on social media.
Not taking a risk – Research has shown that women are more risk-averse than men. We need to be nearly 100% sure before we decide to take a risk. Whether it’s the decision to apply for a promotion or volunteer for a project, don’t let your self-doubts mean you miss out on opportunities.
My tip is: when your mind is spinning with self-doubts and indecision, that isn’t the time to make a decision. Instead, wait until your mind is clear and calm and listen to your own intuition/wisdom/wellbeing and you’ll know what to do.
I have helped hundreds of women overcome the sabotage habits that hold them back and I’d love to share some strategies with you.
You can book a free Career Breakthrough call with me where we’ll identify 3 steps you can make that will have a huge impact on your career. You can go straight to my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com and book your call now.
It may be controversial to say this, but I really believe, that right now you have all the self-belief you’ll ever need.
Self-belief is described as having confidence in your own abilities and judgement. So you’re probably thinking, how can she say I have all the self-belief I ever need when I still doubt myself at work, as a parent or in relationships?
The reason I believe this is because we’re all born with the same levels of self-belief; you never see a baby needing therapy do you?
Then as we go through life and experience negative situations we get caught up in unhelpful thinking that hides our natural self-belief.
Rather than trying to boost your self-belief with affirmations or positive thinking, I suggest we just need to get back in touch with that hidden confidence and self-worth.
What can I do when I doubt myself?
Having self-doubts and questioning yourself is completely normal and all of us feel it sometimes. Perhaps you recognise yourself in some of these statements?:
Can I really do this?
What will people say if I do or don’t do this?
Other people are better/cleverer/ thinner than me
I don’t want to start it if I’m going to fail
People like me don’t get success
If you hear your inner critical voice saying similar negative things or questioning your abilities then remember:
The words you’re hearing and the feelings they give you are just thoughts. They’re very unlikely to be true and you don’t have to engage with them or act on them.
You aren’t broken you don’t need to be fixed
The voice you hear isn’t your true voice, they’re just thoughts you can’t control, so don’t give them power
Your inner critical voice doesn’t define you and shouldn’t be used to label you such as; I’m shy, I’m stupid or I’m not good enough
As we get less caught up in our unhelpful thinking, we get more in touch with our self-belief and start to be braver, more resilient and to accept ourselves as we truly are. Then you’ll realise you’ve got all the self-belief you’ll ever need.
That’s a mindset I’d love to have, what about you?
If you’d like to find out how you can get back in touch with your self-belief and confidence then you can book a free call with me. We’ll discuss your current situation, what you’d like to achieve and I’ll give you some suggestions on how to move forward.
I work with both career women and entrepreneurs and almost all of them tell me they have a fear of failure.
The source of the fear does vary such as “I might appear stupid” or “I’m not good enough”. But for both groups of women, the feeling can be paralysing and cause procrastination.
That can then lead to us playing small, not moving out of our comfort zones and not taking up new opportunities.
If you’d like to conquer your fear of failure then I have 4 proven secrets to share with you.
Stop running films in your head.
This type of thinking is known as ‘what if’ thinking. When we play films in our mind about the possible catastrophes that could happen. The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking.
The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking. Instead, decide if there is anything you can do to prevent the worst possibilities. If not then let go of the film because it’s out of your control. Distract yourself or focus on what are the positives that could happen.
Surprisingly the students asked to be positive about the week had less energy and achieved less during the week than the control group.
This demonstrates that just thinking positively isn’t enough to achieve the outcomes we want. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Have a go at visualising a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Imagine yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself carrying on anyway. Finally think about how you could overcome these obstacles, then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles.
Separate Yourself From The Failure
When you’ve failed in the past, did you make it about you or the situation? It’s important to take responsibility for our actions, but that doesn’t mean we are the failure. It’s much healthier if you can separate you and your beliefs about yourself from what actually happened.
For example, making a mistake in a project doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake and can learn from the mistake next time.
Feel The Fear (And Do It AnyWay!)
Even if you use the 2 secrets above you may still have the feeling of fear and because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable it can stop us moving forward.
Rather than doing something to get rid of the feeling, try sitting quietly with the sensations and deep breathing. Or imagine you’re sitting outside yourself observing what you’re doing. Then you’ll find the feeling dissipates by itself and the bodies natural calm returns.
Having realised that the fear is transitory you’ll feel more confident to take action next time.