I am a Facebook user, although not it’s greatest fan. I do however often flick through my newsfeed when I’m relaxing in front of the telly at night. It’s through this experience and what my clients tell me, that I’ve realised how damaging it can be to your confidence.
The problem is that social media activates your subconscious to compare and judge. A certain amount of this is natural, but when you are constantly seeing pictures of others having fun and looking good, it triggers your insecurities.
Seeing photos and posts about friends on nights out when you had a quiet weekend can send you into FOMO (fear of missing out).
Or updates about peoples latest gadget or holiday can cause you to want ‘more bigger, better’. These thoughts don’t always go away immediately and can lead to you questioning if you are ‘good enough’.
Recent research from Albright College in Pennsylvania has shown that people with less confidence are more likely to boast on Facebook, especially about their relationships. By showing others that their relationship is okay, they get the external validation that they are okay too.
My advice to clients is to always remember that you aren’t making a fair comparison. What you see on Facebook is generally the window dressing of someones life, whereas you have the full, behind the scenes picture of your own.
I’d love to know whether Facebook is affecting your confidence or what tips you have to ensure it’s just a fun hobby? Do leave me a comment please.
How do I stop comparing myself to others? This is a question I’m often asked by clients.
As women we often find ourselves falling into the habit of comparing our homes, bodies, careers, children and behaviours to others.
Even though I know the dangers involved in being caught in the comparison trap, I still find myself being drawn in.
Picture the scene, I’ve just come back from a fabulous 2 weeks in Turkey with my family. On the day of arrival, I’m by the pool in my bikini feeling white but relaxed and pretty good. My focus then drifts to other women around the pool and before I know it, I’m in full on ‘comparititis’ mode!
Thoughts like “That’s a lovely bikini, but how would it look on me?” or “Wow she has a fabulous figure“
These thoughts as observations are harmless, but if I then use them to judge myself against, it will knock my confidence and body image.
So how do you stop this ‘comparititis’?
It’s all about changing your mindset around how you define yourself. Have a read of these quotes
A flower Does Not Think Of Competing With the flower Next To It, It Just Blooms – Zen Shin
The Only Person You Should Try to be Better Than is Who You Were Yesterday – Unknown
Back to the pool in Turkey. To avoid falling into comparititis I reminded myself that how other people look has no affect on how I am perceived, how my family love me and my value as a person. Whether a supermodel sits down beside me or not, I am still okay and good enough.
I chose not to let any passing negative thoughts affect my self-esteem and instead to look at others with curiosity not judgement.
Does this resonate with you? Do you struggle with comparititis?
A friend of mine, who is married with children, recently went to visit her sister. She lives alone in a tidy, minimalist house and has lots of freedom. My friend mentioned how lovely it must be to be her sister with no responsibilities, then she reflected that actually it must feel quite lonely?
But does being alone mean you must be lonely?
Being alone means literally you are by yourself, and in that situation you may or may not feel lonely.
Being lonely means you crave social contact and connection with others, so there is a difference. You can be in a group of people or with the one you love and still feel lonely.
Loneliness also has a scale or spectrum, with each end having extremes from constant loneliness to occasional loneliness.
If you are occasionally lonely, it’s usually due to the circumstances, such as having no plans and being bored or being away from home. At the other end of the scale is when you are constantly lonely, and it’s generated from you rather than from your environment. This can quite often be a result of you not feeling cared for or understood.
A recent survey found that 43% of older adults felt alone, although only 18% of them actually lived alone.
As with most scales, the majority of people are located somewhere in between the two extremes. So if you feel lonely at some point think about what is making you feel lonely:
Are you feeling isolated and need to see or connect with people more often?
Do you feel that those around you don’t understand or care about you?
Here are some other things for you to consider:
Loneliness can be a sign that your mind needs more social contact or that the contact you’re having isn’t fulfilling
Having lots of connections that are at acquaintance level and whom you don’t feel close to, can feel more lonely than being alone
Open up to family and close friends about how you’re feeling
Start to share with those acquaintances to build a deeper rapport. Nothing bonds people like sharing your vulnerabilities, be brave and open up
What hobbies or interests do you have, can you use these to meet like minded people?
Take things slowly, the best connections take time to build trust and connection
Focus on other people, their experiences and feelings. Be curious about them. Getting out of your head and thinking about others will relieve the lonely feelings
If you are single and lonely for that special person and emotional connection in your life, accept that this is understandable and okay. Then look for other connections in your life that can fill this gap, including self-love.
When you have found some good connections, nourish them, and don’t be worried about being too forward or giving more than you get. When you make more friends you can choose which are most positive in your life.
Have you heard the story about how Indian elephant trainers subdue their animals?
They restrain them by attaching one of their legs with a very strong chain to a tree. Gradually they replace this chain with smaller and weaker chains until the elephant is only held by string.
At this point there is nothing restraining him other than his belief that he is stuck.
Just like the elephant we sabotage our own confidence with beliefs that keep us stuck and unable to move forward.
4 such beliefs are:
Catastrophic thinking – Believing the worst case, such as “my relationship has broken up, so I’ll never meet another man”
Black and white or all or nothing thinking – This means thinking that either you do it perfectly or it’s a failure. For example a document at work, if it’s not perfect it’s no good
Projecting your insecurities onto others – Which causes you to think things like “they’re going to think I’m stupid or boring’ or “He’ll see I’m not attractive’
Making assumptions – An example of this would be “She didn’t acknowledge me when I walked past, I must have done something wrong”
If this sounds like you and you want to free yourself from the thin string that’s keeping you stuck, here are 4 strategies to help:
Become aware of the beliefs that are sabotaging you. What are you saying to yourself, when and where? How is it holding you back?
Look for other perspectives. Stand back from the emotions of the situation and challenge yourself, are these thoughts what you really believe or beliefs from the past? Look at the situation from other perspectives could their be a different view point?
Choose what you want to believe. You don’t have to have such high standards or focus on the worst possible scenario. Choose another outcome and remind yourself of it regularly
Practice Mindfulness. This allows you to pull your thoughts away from negative scenarios back to the present moment
I hope you found this helpful and please share it on social media with the buttons below.
Do you think you’re shy? Well you maybe surprised to hear that between 40 and 45% of adults consider themselves to be, according to Bernado.J.Carducci PhD.
Shyness can be anything from a nervous excitement or awkwardness to a totally inhibiting social phobia. So it’s less surprising that nearly half of us think we’re on the shy scale in certain situations.
Carducci says that shyness is about excessive self-focus: in other words being preoccupied with your thoughts, feelings and physical reactions, usually in a negative way.
There are 3 common ways in which shyness tends to affect lives:
Wanting to be social but not feeling you are able to. You may have agreed to attend a large social event, then as the hour comes nearer you feel uncomfortable and look for a reason to cancel
Taking time to warm up in a social situation. Perhaps you like to arrive late to not be noticed, then feel awkward and unable to chat comfortably. This could lead to you leaving early
Having a small circle of friends and doing the same things repeatedly. Which can mean you feel stuck and are nervous in new situations and in making the first move with new people
The good news is shyness isn’t something you’re born with and can be overcome.
Although some children are born with more sensitive and inhibited characteristics, that doesn’t mean they will be ‘shy’ adults.
Generally shyness is a learned behaviour and linked to an experience, which made you feel worried and want to get away from. This message then gets reinforced through life and develops into shy behaviours.
So how can you start to overcome shyness?
Accept there is nothing wrong with you. However if you feel life would be easier if you were more sociable, you can develop those skills
‘Get out of your head’. Start to be curious and really interested in other people and situations, rather than staying focused in your head
Realise others don’t care about you. Other people are more focused on themselves and how they are behaving, so try to be less self-conscious
Find a role model. Look for someone who is comfortable in the situations you find tricky. Work out what they do and visualise yourself behaving a similar way
If I look back to my much younger self with the benefit of hindsight, there are many things I might do or say differently.
More importantly there are some key messages about confidence I’d want to share with the less experienced version of me.
I grew with a secure and protected childhood, which was wonderful but may not have allowed me to develop my independence muscle enough.
It’s okay to listen to others opinions and take on board different perspectives, but trusting in my instincts and feelings should have been the most important influence.
2. Speak up, you won’t look stupid
Again this is about trusting that what I have to say is as important as anyone else thoughts. There isn’t always a right answer and by speaking up more I would have respected myself and boosted my confidence.
3. Your confidence will grow
I remember that scared feeling, when I first left home, when I got my first job and bought my first house.
Feeling nervous and uncomfortable in new experiences and situations is normal and I’d love to reassure my younger self that the more new experiences I throw myself into the more my confidence will grow.
4. Everyone is doing the best they can
It seemed to me when I first started at University or in new jobs that my peers and seniors all were so confident and sorted.
I now realise that everyone is just doing their best in situations and struggling with their own insecurities. So I should stop worrying what others think and just be me
5. Good enough is good enough
I definitely have some perfectionist tendencies and set myself high expectations. These days I have learnt to be more realistic with my intentions, which means I don’t always have to do or be the best.
The freedom and calmness this has given me are something I would love my younger self to have experienced.
Having said all this, I’ve enjoyed the learning process that has taken me to where I am, so maybe it’s better to discover these lessons for yourself?
Do you have any lessons on confidence you’d like to share with your younger self?
If you’ve enjoyed this blog I’d appreciate you sharing it
I’m as shocked as most people in the UK at our decision to leave the EU and the ongoing political fall out. It has taken us all in a direction where the final destination is unknown.
At times like this when we maybe fearful of the future, there is a tendency to blame and shame other people, the awful signs of which we’ve seen this week.
Being taken out of your comfort zone, is risky and uncomfortable and a successful outcome can seem impossible. When the initial shock wears off and you start to readjust and realise that whatever the outcome is, you are still okay, then you will have shown your resilience.
For those people feeling anxious about the effect of this huge decision and worried about the confidence and resilience of this country I have 5 tips to share with you:
See the positive and the negative. Instead of focusing on just the negative possibilities, look proactively for the positive in the situation. According to Dr Barbara Fredrickson you need a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative experiences to build your resilience
Take the learning. In an uncomfortable or negative situation a resilient person is more likely to ask “what’s the solution” or “what can I learn from this”. Life is a long journey of learning, we aren’t supposed to know it all at any stage
Look after yourself. Thus means physically and emotionally, so ensure you eat and sleep well, exercise, get outdoors and spend time with people you care about
Practice gratitude for the positives in your life and appreciate the kindness of others. Also, there is an additional benefit to doing an act of kindness for another person, as it drives up your serotonin levels (the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness)
Have a laugh. Finding the humour in a difficult situation is a great way to feel more in control. Playful humour also reduces the fear around the unknown
Whatever you voted, we now need to collaborate together to show our confidence and resilience and adjust to the new world – whatever that is!
Last week I was invited to be on the expert panel for the press launch of a report about ‘Why Diets Fail’ sponsored by XLS Medical.
Having read the report there were some really interesting facts about diets:
72% of us have tried a diet this year and a third have tried two or more
Of those almost half feel it’s failed in the first month
34% of dieters claim to have failed every diet they’ve tried, as they’ve put weight back on
Less than a quarter of dieters actually achieve their weight loss goals
At the launch, along with a fitness expert, a dietician and a food blogger we debated with a room of journalists what is needed for people to achieve a healthy diet resulting in weight loss? Rather than to go on a fad diet such as the ‘Kale and Chewing gum’ diet (yes it really exists!)
The number one reason for a diet failing, given by 41% of the OnePoll survey in this report, was a lack of motivation, followed by boredom, stress and time restraints.
So what causes this lack of motivation?
A lack of realistic goals. Expecting a rapid weight loss initially and for it to continue. It’s much better to aim for a 1/2lb loss each week as research has shown it can be more easily sustained
A lack of support and accountability. Having a group of friends or a professional to support you and keep you online with your goals, will maintain your motivation when your willpower weakens
Unrealistic goals. A goal of losing just 5 to 10% of your weight is realistic and will make a big difference to your health
Not enjoying your food. In our hectic lifestyles we may believe we should be reading emails, texting friends or catching up on tv when we’re eating. This means we don’t savour or taste our food or recognise the triggers of feeling full. Instead get rid of distractions and really enjoy your food, Mindfulness practice can also help you stay present.
Setting rigid rules. A more flexible approach to eating including allowing yourself small amounts of all the foods you crave, is much more likely to keep you motivated than a very restrictive diet
As well as all these positive actions to keep motivated the key element I believe, is to understand what your hunger is really for and why you want to eat.
Quite often we eat to get rid of, or numb bad feelings rather than actually being physically hungry. We need to understand and recognise our emotional eating patterns to be able to change them.
In our childhood when we feel sad or hurt or bored, we’re often given a hug or a treat to make us feel better. As if feeling uncomfortable is a bad thing which we need to get rid of. So it’s not surprising that we then learn to eat to comfort or reward ourselves.
How many times have you reached for a chocolate bar or glass of wine when you felt bored or stressed?
By understanding whether the hunger is emotional or physical you can start to make better choices as well as accept yourself just as you are.