I realise that happiness means very different things to different people, however when I recently read a blog about the path to happiness I was quite shocked.
The writer suggested that in order to be happy we need to build a picture of our perfect life and list the things we need to be happy. They could be an Aston Martin, a high-flying career, weight loss or children.
Now I’m all in favour of setting goals and having a vision or direction in life, but as I’m sure you’re aware, happiness doesn’t come from a relationship, a job or a car, but from inside us.
You may be thinking, that’s easy for me to say, but how do I actually achieve it?
The answer is to focus on 3 things – thoughts, feelings and your attitude to life.
Thoughts – We have tens of thousands of thoughts a day, that pop into our heads. some are positive, some are negative and some are “what shall I have for tea’. We don’t have control over those, but we can choose not to engage in the negative ones
Feelings – Our feelings are the result of our thoughts. In the same way as thoughts, they will pass and be replaced by a different feeling. So if at anytime you are feeling uncomfortable, sit with it and remember this will pass and you are still okay.
Attitude to life – This is about having the courage and confidence to go for life and take risks even when you feel insecure
When you work on all of these, you’ll find a greater contentment and happiness. Then you can still aim for that Aston Martin!
In today’s age of social media, selfies and celebrity worship, it scares me that our daughters are under such pressure to get everything right. It feels really important to me to be a confident role model, but how can I achieve that when I’ve got so many things wrong?
Then it occurred to me, that as young women are being bombarded with pictures of success and perfect looks. Having someone who’s happy and loves them but still has faults and flaws would be a great antidote.
This led me to really think about what messages about confidence, we could share with our daughters and how to model those behaviours, to give them the most impact.
I came up with these 6 ideas:
Share your failures as well as your successes. We have a society that isn’t open to sharing our vulnerabilities and as a result, we rarely talk about our failures. It’s important that we show young women that it’s not only okay but necessary, to fail sometimes
Talk about your role models. There are so many fantastic female role models, in almost every area of interest. Identify your role models and share their stories with your daughters to inspire them
Speak confidently. Show young women by example, that you can speak up for your opinions and ideas, and you don’t have to apologise or soften your words. Using phrases such as “I think this might be the answer…” or “Sorry, but would you mind if I….” just undermines your message
Take a risk. Let them see you take a step out of your comfort zone and hear you share the uncomfortable feelings you have. Tell them about the situation, and how the feeling does pass, to be replaced by pride in what you’ve achieved.
You can own and talk about your successes, and still be ‘nice’. We’re often taught in childhood that ‘blowing your own trumpet’ isn’t polite or nice, which means we don’t celebrate and talk about our achievements. By demonstrating that you can accept the credit, you are showing respect not only to yourself but to the other person.
Focus on being a role model. By changing your behaviours to give a positive influence to young women’s confidence, you will also be reinforcing your own self-esteem.
Do let me know if you agree with these ideas and have any more of your own.
I’m passionate about supporting young women to be confident and authentic, so please click the share button to pass the message on.
Apparently, an average Briton worries for 2 hours and 15mins every day. This adds up to 61/2 years in a lifetime and for women, worry levels are generally higher.
So what are we worrying about and does it help?
Further studies showed that 85% of the things we worry about never happen. For those that do, 79% of them weren’t as tricky as we thought. Which means that 95% of what you worry over is just exaggeration or misunderstanding of your thoughts.
Worry does have a negative image, but it’s actually a natural and normal part of everyday life and does have some benefits, such as:
It can signal to us that there’s a possible threat to our safety (emotional or physical)
Getting anxious can motivate us to take a positive action, or help us to plan for a worst-case scenario.
Worrying only becomes a problem if:
You have one worry that goes round and round
You can’t disengage or turn off your worrying
You constantly worry about small things
I’ve worked with a lot of clients who overthink their worry or have high anxiety levels. and these tips have helped them be calmer and focused on the present.
Is the worry helpful? Take a logical look at your worry and decide if focusing on it will give you any benefit. Will you be able to put plans in place to avoid the worst-case? Will anything change as a result of your worrying? If not, don’t engage with the thought and it will pass
Do you have any control over the worry? We often have ‘what if’ worries about things in the future over which we have no control. Do you worry about what others may think or the outcome of Brexit? These are outside of your circle of influence so let the thoughts go
Get comfortable with uncertainty. Not knowing what may happen in the future can make you feel uncomfortable. Stay with that feeling, by accepting the uncertainty and being cautiously excited you will be happier in the present.
Plan a time for worry. A study in the Netherlands found that if you schedule in a specific time when you will think about your worries, it actually reduces the amount of worry. Park your worries until that time and you’ll find that some have gone and others you can find a solution for.
Stay in the present. How often does your mind drift off to past experiences or future ‘what ifs’? By keeping your focus on this moment and what’s happening around you, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety. Mindfulness exercises can help train your brain to stay present.
Do try out these tips and let me know if you have any of your own that work.
Please share this article with your friends and good luck for a calm and worry free week.
Helen was a client of mine who was struggling at work, because she was being bullied by a colleague. When she came to see me she felt her confidence was very low and she wanted to leave her job. I quickly picked up that people pleasing was part of Helen’s issue.
In work, Helen was seen as very kind and thoughtful. She was always helping others with their work, she never complained or said “no”. This, unfortunately, meant not only was she exhausted from not looking after herself but she was also vulnerable to a mean and controlling colleague.
Bullies will pick on people pleasers, as they are less likely to fight back or complain. In Helen’s case, her colleague never did her share of the work, took advantage of Helen’s willingness to work long hours and was derogatory about Helen to her face and behind her back.
Helen’s reaction had been to be even more helpful and polite, as she thought it would keep the peace. Until she reached the point where she’d had enough, and if I couldn’t help she was going to quit her job.
I worked with Helen on her beliefs about herself and the world, and what had caused this need to please others. Her issue was a fear of rejection and as a child, she’d picked up the belief that:
“If I don’t do everything I can to make a person happy they might leave or stop caring for me.”
From this, she’d developed the habit of people pleasing and never putting her needs first.
Helen is still on the journey to building her self-worth and confidence, as it doesn’t change overnight. She is in a much happier place and is looking to change job, not because of the colleague, though, instead she wants to start fresh in a new environment.
I asked her what had made the biggest difference in our sessions? She believed it was starting to build her awareness of her behaviours and challenging her belief about being rejected.
As a result, she’s been able to think about what are her needs and wants, rather than just pleasing the other person.
If you recognise yourself in some of Helen’s story and would like to change, then I suggest you begin to take notice of when and in what situation you are people pleasing.
Also when you are doing something, are you doing it just to please someone else, or because you’re afraid of the consequences if you don’t?
If you have uncomfortable emotions after being with someone, is that because you’ve agreed to do something you didn’t want to or have you not spoken up out of fear of their reaction?
Where might these behaviours have come from?
Challenge yourself to make today the first day you recognise and change these habits. Remember you are not being selfish, instead, you’re respecting both your needs and those of the other person.
Good luck and do share with your friends please on Facebook and LinkedIn
“I want to be authentically confident”, is a common wish I hear from clients. But what does being authentic actually mean?
The Oxford Dictionary defines authentic as ‘not a copy; genuine’. To me, it means being yourself, and not an imitation of what you or others think you should be.
You are acting authentically when your behaviours match your beliefs and personality. It can be tricky, though to identify which are your beliefs, from those you may have picked up from your parent or partner.
In my younger years, I moulded my personality and beliefs to fit in with the people I cared about. This meant I traded my authentic self, to ensure I wasn’t judged and I fitted in.
Unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and shame, as well as the need for others to give you the love and approval you can’t give yourself.
It wasn’t until I had the courage to authentically speak up for my opinions and feelings that I stopped the constant search for validation.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings
Being authentically confident requires courage, time and commitment, however, it is well worth the effort.
Here are a few simple steps to help you:
Identify your beliefs and values. These are your moral compass and guide you in the actions and decisions you make. You can identify them by thinking about times you were really happy and times you were very low, and identify what yours and others behaviours were that meant you felt good or bad.
Respect yourself. This sounds easy but can be difficult when other people disagree with your behaviour or opinions. The important thing is to speak up or act on your thoughts, wants and needs. It gives your self-worth such a boost to have trusted and respected yourself
Accept your weaknesses. If you can acknowledge and accept both your talents and your flaws, it empowers you to be authentic. The focus shouldn’t just be on what you want to improve, but also recognising and celebrating your successes
Have courage. Be bold enough to live your life according to what you believe is right, and not let fear stop you from doing the things you dream of. What is the worst case scenario if you were brave? Could you live with it?
Focus on yourself in the present moment. By eeping your thoughts on the moment you’re less concerned about what others think, and it liberates you to be authentically you.
Imagine the empowerment and feeling of freedom, from truly being yourself and listening to what you need and want. From treating yourself with the respect and approval you deserve.
It’s quite natural to want or desire something in our lives; whether that’s world peace or a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, isn’t important.
But why we think we want them, and what we believe they will give us, does matter.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the verb “want” as “to have a desire to possess or do something”. and the noun as “a lack or deficiency of something”.
That feeling of desiring or lacking something can have a profound effect on our happiness and confidence.
When I started to think about the things I wanted or wished for (after world peace obviously!). I realised there was quite a lot, and that wanting things quite often popped into my thoughts.
At the time of writing this blog I came up with my current top 6:
I want to book a family holiday
I wish I could have a cleaner every day
I want an All Saints top that appeared in my browser
I wish I was nearer my friend whose Dad has just died
I want to finish that open bag of Werthers sweets
I wish there was more time in a day
Some of my wants aren’t achievable, such as more time in the day. Others aren’t exactly a necessity, like a cleaner every day and some are just greed!
It did make me think, though, about how these thoughts might be affecting my self-esteem and happiness. Also, do I really want those things, or am I just being manipulated by marketing?
When I started to reflect on these questions, I realised that wanting things was often my natural reaction to a situation. For example:
Feeling overwhelmed – I want a holiday or a cleaner
Need to earn more money – I want a quick fix marketing programme
A friend buys a new outfit – I wish I could have a new outfit too
Feeling sad or guilty – I want to do something to help others
Feeling bored – I want that bag of sweets
not all wanting is a bad thing, but perhaps rather than just wanting a distraction, a quick fix or to feel better. I could focus on my emotions and real needs in that moment, which is far more likely to boost my confidence and self-esteem than reaching for a credit card.
My tips for you would therefore be:
Take some time to think about the things you’re wanting. Question yourself, why you want them and what they are really trying to solve. Is there a different way you could meet that need?
I found it an interesting exercise, although it hasn’t stopped me lusting for those Jimmy Choos!!
Please help me pass on my insights and tips by sharing on Facebook or Linkedin using the buttons below.
When I worked in the corporate world I remember the pressure I felt under to get promoted and be successful.
I’m not sure if that was driven by my own beliefs, by peer pressure or the culture in the company. But I do know it affected my confidence to go for career success.
One of the reasons that women hold back from going for a promotion, is that we are less likely to believe in our abilities and to take a risk in applying
To help you I’m sharing with you ‘My Top 10 Tips To Get A Promotion’. I’m sure you’ll find them helpful to set you on the journey to career success.
Research the role. Get clarity on what is required, the skills and behaviours necessary and ensure it’s actually a job you would like to do. You don’t always have to move up the career ladder, it might suit you to do a sideways move to a different ladder instead.
Identify and accept your strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of your weaknesses and celebrating your strengths is key to demonstrating confidence. As well as being useful for interviews!
Identify why you’re putting off going for a new role. Is your inner critical voice sabotaging your confidence? Perhaps it’s saying things like ‘I’m not clever enough”, “I’m not good enough” or “everyone else will be better than me”. These negative beliefs are false and shouldn’t be listened to. What would be a more realistic belief instead?
Don’t overthink it. As women we are in general, quite bad at overanalyzing or going over and over a decision. Make the decision and then go for it. If it doesn’t go the way you want it to then you can just make another decision to change.
Don’t let fear of failure put you off. Failure to one person is a learning experience to another so change your perspective and only focus on the things you can control
If you get negative feedback clarify it. Make sure you get a detailed response so you have something to work on. Then make your own decision whether the feedback is correct and worthwhile
Avoid all or nothing thinking. For example, either I get the job or that’s it I’ll be out on the street.
Focus on small steps. Going for a promotion may mean you have to achieve many things in preparation. Instead of being overwhelmed, make a plan and take it one step at a time
What is the worst that could happen? If you don’t get the role, will it really be a disaster? Or will you just have had a useful experience to help next time?
What would you say to a colleague your situation? Would you tell them to go for it? What advice would you offer?
Do you feel more confident to put yourself out there?
With the start of a new year, it’s natural to reflect on how you’re going to be happier, more effective or achieve more in the coming year.
To be successful in business, women need their confidence to be at least equal to their competence.
With my clients who struggle with confidence, I commonly see these 4 confidence traps that they can fall into. The result is increasing amounts of self-doubt, and missing out on valuable opportunities.
Trap 1 : Fear of Failure
We would all like to succeed in our work, but is a fear of failure stopping you from taking on new projects or putting yourself out there?
It’s worth being curious about what it is you fear will actually happen if things go wrong, and what the effect would be on you.
Are you actually just scared about how bad you’ll feel? Then remember thoughts and feelings are only transitory and that they will soon pass.
Trap 2: Lack of fulfillment
If you feel dissatisfied at work, and that your talents and skills aren’t being used. It can lead to you disengaging from your work and lacking confidence.
If this is you, then focus on the successes you are having at work rather than the things that you find boring. Keep a record of the achievements you’ve made to maintain your positivity and engagement in your business.
If this doesn’t work then it might be the right time to look for something new
Trap 3: Negative, unpleasant or intimidating colleagues
I’m sure we’ve all come across some of these in our careers and they can really knock your confidence.
It’s not possible to change another person, but you can change yourself, which may alter the dynamic between the two of you.
Take an honest look at your behaviours and assumptions when you’re around them. Is there anything you could change for the positive?
If the situation still doesn’t change then I suggest you remember that it’s about them and not you personally, and if it’s a real problem you can take action.
Trap 4: Listening to you inner critic
Women who are particularly high achievers can suffer the most with perfectionism or have a loud and hurtful inner critic.
This inner voice with its disruptive comments about your abilities or what others think of you, can do the greatest damage to your confidence.
Realise that this voice is just thoughts popping into your mind and that mainly they’re untrue. So it is possible to ignore them or distract yourself.
One method is to ‘get out of your head’ and actively focus on other people. This means you’re listening to your critical voice less and are really present for others or your work.
Good luck for a confident 2017 and please share my article to help other women have one too.
I’m someone who is inclined to overthink and worry if I allow myself.
So with the start of the New Year, I think it’s important to let go of those things that added emotional stress in the last year.
To give you some idea of what I’m suggesting, I’ve copied this list of 12 things to let go of from an article by American writers Marc and Angel.
1. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
2. Let go of feeling guilty for making yourself a priority.
3. Let go of all thoughts that don’t make you feel empowered and strong.
4. Let go of your fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch what uncovers itself. And remember that you don’t need to know it all first. We learn the way on the way.
5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like asking for what you don’t want.
6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.
7. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
8. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and ex friends. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong. It’s what you needed at the time to learn and grow. 9. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and set a great example.
10. Let go of thinking you are damaged and flawed; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are. You are not the shape of your body or the number on some scale. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
11. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. Your journey is unfolding with the real and present opportunity to make the best of it.
12. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
I hope you find them thought provoking. Will you try to let go of any of them?