Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling that you’re not being your best, whether at work, as a wife, friend or mother?
That’s such a common stick that as women we use to beat ourselves. Expecting to achieve high standards in every area of our lives, all at the same time.
Logically we know that no one can be superwoman, but why do others seem to be better at it than us?
The solution, we’re told is getting a good ‘work-life balance’ But does such a thing actually exist?
I like to think of it more as making work and life choices.
These choices can vary from one month or day to the next. You may choose, on a week when you’ve got an important project at work, to prioritise work. But the next week to give more time and energy to your family or yourself.
We need to accept that it’s okay to prioritise our lifestyle or our work at different times and that achieving ‘good enough’ really is enough.
If you’re struggling to make choices then here are a few tips:
Put boundaries in place – whichever area of your life it is, decide what the boundaries are that you won’t allow yourself or others to step over. This could be not reading work emails at weekends, saying no to going out with friends to avoid upsetting them or putting an hour of ‘me time’ in a couple of times a week
You don’t have to be a martyr – Do you ever hear yourself thinking ” I have to do everything around here” or “I might as well just do it, I’ll do it quicker or better”. Then you’re falling into the I’m indispensable trap. Let others support you and trying asking for help.
Change ‘I should” to “I could” – do you really have to work extra hours to get your report perfect rather than 80%? Would it be a disaster if the family had a microwaved meal rather than a home cooked meal? Challenge your rules on what you ‘should’ do
Don’t engage in worrying – getting caught up in a worry spiral takes up on average two and a quarter hours a day. Just think what else you could do with that time!
Speak up – if your workload is too much, take responsibility for speaking up to your boss. If you need more help at home, discuss it with your family
Recognise when you’re struggling – it’s important for your wellbeing that you don’t push yourself, as it can have a negative effect on your mental health. Exercise, socialising and hobbies, have been proven to help with stress
By focusing on these tips you will be able to make make the right work/life choices for you.
Curiosity is my favourite behaviour at the moment because focusing on curiosity creates confidence.
It allows me to see things from the other person’s perspective and to question why they interpret comments and situations in a different way.
By depersonalising the situation it means I don’t go down the “it must be all about me” thinking route, which can knock your confidence levels.
I recently worked with my client Jane* on using curiosity to help with her work relationships.
Jane was worried about her colleague’s behaviour towards her. She felt intimidated and undermined by them. Whatever friendly or professional approaches Jane made to her colleague the response was abrupt and sometimes rude. That left Jane with self-doubts and worrying about what she was doing wrong.
As part of our work, I suggested Jane replace her spiral of worrying with curiosity about her colleague’s mindset instead.
Jane can never know what her colleague is thinking, but several possible scenarios occurred to her:
Was the fact that Jane had recently joined the team triggering her colleague’s own insecurities?
Did her colleague feel more important having worked there longer and resented having to bring another team member up to speed?
Was she worried about relationships within the team changing?
Did she have issues outside of work that could be affecting her behaviour?
Now that Jane has accepted she can’t change her colleague’s behaviour, she’s chosen to believe it’s not about her. That has allowed her to break free from the self-doubts and become a confident member of the team.
If you struggle with managing your relationships at work, then try being curious about the other person, rather than giving yourself a hard time.
Worrying what others think can really hold you back at work and in life, if it’s affecting you then do read my latest free download. Click the link below.
When you reach the end of the day and realise you haven’t achieved the things you wanted to. You’ve got a hectic day tomorrow, which means you’ll be too stressed to get them done, and now you feel full of self-doubt and anxiety.
Wouldn’t it be great to wake up the next day feeling fresh, positive and confident instead?
When you’re rushing around and unprepared in the morning, it makes you vulnerable to engaging with negative thinking. However, if you develop your own Confidence Boosting Morning Routine, even for just a few minutes, you can feel confident and alert.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Make sure your alarm is soothing or motivating. I know when I wake up to loud music or an irritating voice (that’s my husband!) That it will put me in a low mood
Drink a glass of water slowly. Not only does this rehydrate you from the night to clear your mind. It also slows you down and keeps you focused on the present
Avoid thinking about your to-do list for the day. This can make you feel anxious and stressed. Distract yourself by focusing on your breathing or creating some order, such as making your bed
Visualise yourself being confident and motivated. If you run a film in your mind of leaving the house and going about your day positively, your mind assumes it’s real and it lifts your mood
Look for positives in the mirror. As women, we often focus on negatives in our reflection rather than the things we like about ourselves, such as eye colour or our smile
Eat breakfast mindfully. When I eat breakfast I tend to be distracted by the family or by multitasking. Take the time to sit down properly and notice the smell, taste and texture of your food as you eat it. This keeps you present and has also been shown to reduce the amount you eat.
Do you have any other ideas on how to start the day confidently? Let me know so I can try them out in my routine.
Caring what others think, is a natural behaviour not a problem. It helps us to be accepted and feel secure in the tribe. Worrying what others think, however, is a problem.
The difference is when you care what others think, you take on board and respect their opinion, but you don’t let it determine your decision or affect your self-worth.
Whereas when you’re worrying what others think, you allow their judgement to define what you think about yourself.
Many of my clients tell me, they regularly worry about what their boss and colleagues at work think. Whether it’s about what they say in meetings, the decisions they make or how they compare. it can lead to a paralysis in your life. You may become stuck in a rut and unable to trust yourself to make decisions or take actions.
This can lead to self-doubts and stop you from speaking up or making decisions. You may then become stuck in a rut and unable to trust yourself to go for new opportunities or take on extra responsibilities.
With some clients, this has led to them ignoring their wants and needs and instead, they become totally focused on getting approval from others. (See my earlier blog on Helen the People Pleaser). This really kills your confidence and knocks your self-esteem.
Fortunately, it is possible to reduce your worrying and care more about your own needs, beliefs and desires.
A couple of quick tips to help you are:
Start being aware of when you are making decisions or taking actions based on others approval. Challenge yourself as to why you are doing this and whether you could do it differently
Develop self-approval. Record the achievements you make, the things you’re proud of and your positive strengths. Congratulate yourself when you show the confidence to keep to your beliefs
Being in a bad mood is a natural part of the rollercoaster of a human experience.
However, when you have those feelings of anger, sadness, hurt or irritability it can feel like you’re in the middle of a storm.
Well, you are. You’re actually in the middle of a thought storm.
Your thinking, at that moment, is like a low-pressure front moving across a weather map. You can’t do anything to control it, but you can manage your reaction. You also need to remember, that like all weather storms it will pass and fresh weather will be along shortly.
So how can you cope with those turbulent feelings of a bad mood?
Separate yourself from those inner voices. If you look back to when your mood changed, you’ll probably realise that it was when your thoughts started telling you negative things about what was happening. So it’s not just the circumstances that are causing your bad mood, but the story your inner voice is telling you about them. If you can, separate yourself from those thoughts by ignoring them, not engaging with them and not believing them. Then the feelings they cause will dampen down.
Try not to take it personally. If your bad mood is the result of someone else’s behaviour or words. Then try to take yourself out of the situation and think about how the other person must be struggling. For them to be behaving this way, their thinking must be very stormy and uncomfortable. If you can respond to them neutrally or with compassion, it will help your mood.
Slow down. A bad mood is generally very energetic, your mind is whirling and overthinking. Slowing down will help you to see any problems with more clarity. You could try breathing exercises, Mindfulness or Meditation to help.
Exercise. It’s common knowledge, that regular exercise releases endorphins, which boost your mood. But, you don’t have to be a gym bunny, any form of gentle exercise will help.
Do something you enjoy. This sounds obvious, but a lot of people when they’re in a bad mood will sit and stew on it. Instead watch a nature programme, phone a friend etc. Even if you don’t think it’ll help, once you’ve started, you’ll probably notice the bad thoughts have passed.
Before writing this blog I was feeling irritable about not achieving much today. It wasn’t until I was nearly finished that I even realised that those feelings had gone.
Don’t sit and analyse and feed your bad mood, get on with life, until the storm has passed.
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.