Maxwell Maltz, was a leading American cosmetic surgeon and author who once said, “low self-esteem is like going through life with the handbrake on”. These words resonate with so many! I too have experienced this and can relate to it. Very often, even the most outwardly confident people, lack a genuine inner self-confidence and self-esteem, they have learnt to purely mask it, and this can be exhausting! The under-lying theme to many of my client’s challenges, is low self-esteem or self-doubt.
How many times and how often have you held yourself back from change, opportunity, promotion, future possibilities, new adventures, exploration, written them off entirely because you didn’t have the inner belief or self-confidence? Perhaps you put obstacles or excuses in the way, or were unwilling or too fearful, because it was the unknown?
The thing is, we weren’t born with low self-esteem or poor confidence genes! We have created a habitual way of thinking that doesn’t always serve us. When was the last time you stopped and asked yourself, does how I think, inspire or uplift me? How negative am I about myself? Do my thoughts prevent me from feeling great about who I am and what I could achieve? Your mindset matters hugely, because the way you think is a choice with so many of us falling into a never-ending cycle of self-sabotage, negative self-judgement, self-defeating jargon, that often immobilises us on some level. We have spent a lifetime reinforcing our self-doubt without realising it, just believing, this is just who we are. It has become your automatic, default behaviour.
As a mum facing the return to work, either to your previous job or something new, the prospect can be daunting and you’d rather ‘run for the hills’. Maybe you are someone returning to work after a period of absence or feeling disconnected to your work and long to pursue a career or job change. Often the very idea of this shakes our confidence. This change can feel daunting, uncertain and so removed from what we have become accustomed to. We question ourselves, our capabilities and often compare ourselves to others, allowing overwhelm to gladly step in.
You are not alone! We must learn to fall back in love with ourselves, identify who we are what really matters to us, what ignites us, what sets us apart, what are we naturally drawn to, what are we skilled at. Start to replace the worry with excitement of exploring ourselves, new avenues and breaking free from the self-doubt that often holds us hostage. Playing off a ‘high frequency energy’ and a ‘can do approach’ is where the magic begins, where doors open, where our thinking becomes productive and inspiring. I can assure you; it is liberating! Who doesn’t want to feel that?
Making a change and building self-confidence is a personal journey, a process. There is no quick fix, short cut, or magic bullet to immediate and immense self-confidence. We live in a society where immediate fixes are sold to us; ‘get rich quick, lose weight fast, tone muscles in 7 days, the list goes
on. We have become accustomed to wanting everything now. Things that can really make a difference, take time, commitment, discipline and consistency. You’ve have spent a lifetime reinforcing self-doubt, worry and low confidence. There are so many things you can do to help yourself. The list is endless. Here are a few of my top tips to get you started on your journey to building inner confidence and exploring direction:
1. Grab yourself a journal, a notebook or something that is dedicated to you! Begin to take note and carry it everywhere with you, you never know when a great thought or idea will pop into your head. You’ll find the more you do it, the less effort it takes, it should become effortless, natural. Your brain needs to see what you are thinking!
2. Being self-aware is the first and most crucial step to positive change. Become aware of your beliefs, emotions, reactions, appearance and behaviour.
3. Start to pay attention to how you ‘self-judge’. Listen to your internal chatter and question how helpful and productive it is? Validate this talk by asking yourself, where is the evidence to suggest what I am saying is true?
4. What do you feel naturally drawn to? The moments you find yourself daydreaming, where do your thoughts drift? Do you have a reoccurring idea or thinking about a certain topic? Have you had a hankering to start your own business although not sure what? Or perhaps you’ve thought about retraining in a new area but never explored it? You have nothing to lose by just exploring ideas. Even descriptive words at the start is great, don’t pressure yourself to come up with career avenues, start slowly.
5. Start to explore and research your ideas (however small) through conversation with people you know or are loosely connected to, so that you can make informed decisions, or simply encourage an informed thought process.
6. Accept a compliment each time you are given one, don’t self-deprecate in return or play it down, simply say ‘thank you!’
7. Note down, what you are good at. Whether you are a mum, someone returning to work after a period of absence, or looking to change careers, think about the skills you used, in order to function in your job prior, and/or the skills you utilise daily. Trust me, they are there, you just don’t pay enough attention to them.
8. Cut yourself some slack! Schedule daily or weekly, ‘guilt-free’ personal time (however short) dedicated to whatever the hell makes you feel good. I call these moments ‘positive distractions’, we need them to create balance.
9. Identify what you most admire about yourself and why you admire it. Very Important.
10. Affirmations – positive, relatable and real statements that make you feel empowered and in control of who you are. Stick them all over your house, in your purse/wallet, on the mirrors and say them out loud every day! They can be a powerful motivator!
11. Don’t play the comparison game! Perceptions of others being more successful, or in control, or superior to yourself leads to low self-esteem. What you see in others is just on the surface and not a real picture. Your energy should be spent focused upon you.
12. Do one thing that stretches you every week, however small, what is important, is that you push yourself a little way out of your comfort zone.
13. Learn to say no, respect your time and ask for what you want without feeling guilty.
14. Applaud yourself and find opportunity to reward and compliment yourself.
15. Ask yourself, what you would like to achieve, or accomplish in 12 months-time, what is important to you? Maybe there is more than one thing. Write it down.
Louisa O’Donnell, Career & Confidence Coach; firstname.lastname@example.org Purple Eclipse Ltd. www.purpleeclipse.com