Have you been told by other people, done an online quiz or perhaps self-diagnosed? Why not try my self-esteem questionnaire here
A negative self-esteem means you don’t feel good about yourself or your value, you feel of less worth than others and may believe you’re not good enough.
We form this perspective from our personality, upbringing, conditioning in society and experiences in life. It can vary through different phases in your life and has been shown to peak at 60, so their’s hope for us all still!!
If you do struggle with self-appreciation then you are more likely to see situations as negative and to catastrophise problems. Also, you’re probably sensitive to comments that are non-critical, taking them as negative.
In comparison, someone with a healthy self-esteem enjoys growing as a person. They feel fulfilled and stand up for their wants, needs and opinions.
It sounds good, doesn’t it!
Well, it is possible to build your self-esteem and I have some strategies to share with you.
Here’s how you can start to boost your self-esteem today:
Challenge your inner critical voice – we all have an inner gremlin that holds us back with words that persuade us not to take action. Or to do something that isn’t helpful (like that extra glass of wine) The words it says to you are just thoughts though and aren’t necessarily true. You can challenge your gremlin with other evidence. For example, if your inner voice says you’re stupid then think about all the things you’ve achieved that disprove it and your other strengths such as being thoughtful or creative.
Avoid negative self-talk – when you’re not feeling good about yourself it’s easy to use critical self-talk without realising. Start noticing when you talk negatively about yourself to others (even in humour) and how often you internally tell yourself you can’t do something or you’re not good enough. Putting a stop to this type of conversation will make a huge difference to how you regard yourself.
Drop the high expectations – It’s not just perfectionists that have high expectations. Anyone with low self-esteem can also have unrealistic standards for what they can achieve. Setting yourself up to fail like this will reinforce the message that you’re not worthy enough. Having a realistic goal isn’t a sign of weakness and think of the boost if you surpass it.
Drop the comparisons – Are you a Facebook obsessive? Social media can be one of the biggest suppressors of self-esteem because you’re not comparing apples with apples. You’re comparing the window dressing of someone else’s life to the whole, good and bad of yours. Rather than focusing on other people who you think are happier, richer or luckier, move your attention back to you. Think about your aspirations, how you’d like to grow and how you can use your strengths.
Do something nice for you – Wouldn’t you get pleasure from doing something nice for someone else? Then why not treat yourself the same way? For healthy self-esteem, it’s really important to take the time to do something you enjoy and not to feel guilty about it. Whether it’s time out to read a magazine, a shopping trip or a chat with friends. If it makes you feel good then don’t be guilty.
Do something nice for someone else – As I said in number 5, helping out another person gives you a lovely warm feeling and builds your self-esteem. You could plan an act of kindness that you do regularly. Or look for opportunities to be altruistic and it doesn’t matter how big the gesture is. It could be holding open a door or letting a car in front of you in a queue or surprising a friend with flowers.
Set yourself a challenge – This will give you the opportunity to gain a sense of achievement (remember about realistic expectations though!) Start small, perhaps attend an evening class, start the couch to 5K app, or ask a new colleague out for a coffee. The important thing is to acknowledge your achievement and celebrate it before moving on to another challenge.
Think of building your self-esteem as a journey
It’s something you can work towards but may not follow a straight path.
Start with one of the ideas above and take some small steps forward, remembering to recognise any success.
Is there never a queue for the women’s toilets in your workplace?
Do you struggle to get your voice heard, often being interrupted or ignored?
Perhaps you miss having a group of females to chat with?
Many of our professional industries such as Engineering, Finance and Tech still have markedly fewer females than males and that get’s even less as you climb the career ladder.
These male dominated cultures bring different challenges with them. When I presented to Amazon UK a couple of weeks ago I was asked:
“How can I get seen and heard when I work with mainly men?”
My answer was… you don’t need to behave like a man to get recognition. But you can alter your communication style and use some strategies to build rapport and respect.
5 Ways To Stand Out In A Male Dominated Workplace :
Talk about facts and solutions – men tend to speak for power and women for warmth. That means that men throw facts at each other to assess each others competence and whether they are trustworthy. When an issue comes up they go into solution mode rather than listening and empathic mode like women. Try putting more facts into your conversations when you’re looking to build an initial impression.
Speak up in meetings even if you’re interrupted – recognise the value of your opinion and believe that what you have to say is worth listening to. If you’re interrupted and want to finish what you were saying, either ask to finish or keep speaking at a louder volume.
Play to your strengths – expertise is particularly important in a male dominated workplace so, don’t be afraid to share yours. Also play to what are known as your stereotypically female strengths. Relationship building and emotional intelligence are a key part of any team.
Practise handling conflict – whilst preventing conflict by being aware of possible situations likely to trigger disagreement is important, you can’t always prevent it. When conflict occurs deal with it immediately by listening to understand the others view point. Then keeping it professional and not personal, being direct and assertive and by not holding a grudge.
Find a mentor/advocate – develop a support network with colleagues in and out of your department, enabling you to offload and share experiences. Also find a senior manager/s who believe in you and develop that relationship. They’ll then be able to offer you advice as well as advocating for your abilities when you’re not in the room.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions that helped you when working in a largely male environment? Do let me know or comment below.
Wishing you courage and confidence.
P.S. To get some personal support from me on your workplace challenges you can book a FREE call with me on my online calendar here.
I had one of those days this week when everything seemed really difficult and I felt like nothing I was doing was working. It triggered all my self-doubts and my confidence was on the floor.
But this up and down flow of confidence is completely normal. The thoughts we have in certain situations and with certain people can make us feel really confident or reduce us to self-doub.
When this happens to me I find these 4 tips really helpful:
Ask yourself “When did I feel like this before and what happened?” Recall the last time you felt unconfident, did you still take action? Did the self-doubt feelings go away? When you’re feeling in a positive place it’s worth recording successes you’ve achieved despite doubting yourself. These are really helpful to read when you hit that dip again.
Challenge your expectations. If you expect to achieve very high standards all the time you are setting yourself up to fail as no one is perfect and that can really knock your confidence. Challenge the goals or expectations you have, are they realistic and challenging without being perfection?
Who are you comparing yourself to? The most common people we compare ourselves to are siblings, Facebook friends, colleagues and people we watch or read about online. But you’re only comparing the window dressing of these people with the whole of you. Instead keep your focus on you and your goals because life is scary and messy for everyone at times.
Feeling unconfident is helpful. Emotions are the bodies way of telling us what our thinking is at that moment. Low confidence is just telling us that we’re about to do something new, difficult or both. It doesn’t mean we have to stop but that we should think carefully about how we do it.
Next time you feel your confidence levels drop try out these tips. Not all of them will be helpful to you but do find your favourite and give it a go.
If you find your self-doubts are holding you back then do book a free consultation with me at www.speakwithjo.com. I’ll share with you some strategies to help you boost your confidence and move forward.
Are you someone who works really hard to ensure every detail on a project is ‘right’? Do you hate making a mistake and see it as a failure? Maybe you procrastinate about starting a task in case it’s too difficult and you can’t do it perfectly?
These are some of the traits of perfectionism and most are founded in judgement.
We all have our own set of rules and standards that we expect not just ourselves but sometimes others to adhere to.
When we decide that we haven’t reached the required standard (usually an impossible 100%) out will come the judge and jury and we’ll be found guilty of making mistakes and not being good enough.
This harsh self-judgement results in us trying to control external factors over which we have little or no control. In fact, as a result, those factors get to control us instead!
No wonder we feel stressed, anxious and that our enjoyment and fulfilment of life is limited.
It is possible to free yourself from the rules and unrealistic expectations that drive your perfectionism
Try these 3 steps to help ease the perfectionist pressure (and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly!)
Drop the judgement – rather than your perfectionist traits being something ‘wrong’ with you. Focus on how they have given you the drive and motivation to achieve all you have.
Use this drive to empower you to continue achieving, but without the limitation of rules and standards. Be curious about what success you might have.
Be authentic – take the spotlight off being perfect and instead turn it on to being you. What do you value, what would success mean to you, what does a ‘better but not perfect you’ look like?
Stop judging others – When we are harsh judges of ourselves we generally are tough on others too. Look at others with curiosity and compassion instead and you’ll find you naturally see yourself in the same way.
By losing the judgement and having curiosity and compassion instead, life feels less of a battle.
If you’d like to explore your perfectionist challenges or get some free resources then I’d love to hear from you. Just reply to this email or book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
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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