Dec 07

Self Confidence in Business: Are You Holding Yourself Back?

How to recognise low self-confidence and turn it around.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Women who lead and manage within small business are trailblazers – making their way through unknown waters and striving for success. But underneath it all there is often a hint (or a mountain) of self-doubt, a lack of self confidence…..those underlying thoughts that nag away. If left un-checked, self-doubt can be more damaging than we give it credit for. We are usually our own best (or worst) critic. Many women have low self-esteem and undervalue their worth and the contribution they are making to the lives and world of those around them. Even women who exude confidence admit to a lack of self-belief. British Media personality Janet Street-Porter recently announced (in a Radio 4 interview) that despite running a television channel, managing multi-million-pound budgets and editing a national newspaper, she had struggled to be taken seriously. “Believe me, I am not without self-doubt,” she confirmed. “I come packaged as someone with confidence, but the reality is different.” Where are you at? Do you focus on the positives, or do you find yourself zoning in on the areas where you don't have the knowledge / skill / competence you would like to have? Do you value your contribution, or do you tend to underestimate just how much you do have to offer? When things go well do you find it difficult to acknowledge your success instead moving straight on to the next thing? When things go wrong do you spend hours agonising over what happened and why, beating yourself up over it, and dwelling on your perceived 'failure'? If you choose to let the negatives outweigh the positives, you may observe deflated results in your personal and business life. Underestimating your capabilities and letting low self confidence get the better of you can:

  • keep your self-esteem and sense of self belief low (way below where they should be!),
  • prevent you from creating and taking on new opportunities,
  • stop you from enjoying your work, your relationships etc
  • lead to lower feelings of success then you deserve which can impact on future motivation!

But as Eleanor Roosevelt suggests, the choice is yours! It is possible to turn this thinking around. If you would like to examine and improve the results you are getting in your business, relationships and life this week, try focusing on these 5 areas: 1. The language you use: How do you start your sentences? Do you focus on the negatives and the “I cants” or do you lean towards the positives and thoughts like “how can I make this work”? This week, focus on noticing your thought patterns and turning any negative, self-defeating thoughts into positive, action-focused ones, like “I'm going to…”; “the outcome I want is…” 2. How you talk to yourself: Notice the voice in your head. Observe the number of compliments vs. negatives you give to yourself. Choosing to become aware of how you talk to yourself can be very revealing. Do you congratulate yourself when you do something well? Or do you spend a long time looking at how you could have done something better? 3. How do you respond to challenges / disappointments? When you are given a new challenge, or come across a stumbling block, what is your initial response? Do you take a “bring it on” type attitude, or do you choose to put your blinders on and pretend the challenge isn't there? What language do you use to talk yourself through it? 4. How do you respond to your own successes? Do you take the time to celebrate and congratulate yourself? Or do you simply move on with the next task because there is still so much to do? Taking the time to really acknowledge yourself, even for a brief moment, can help to cement the feelings of success. This helps you to feel more empowered and creates more opportunity for future success. 5. How you react to a compliment? Do you accept what has been said, take it on board and acknowledge it? Or do you find yourself dismissing, ignoring, or denying it? Take some time on your own to acknowledge what was said, and even if you don't believe it is true for you, accept that the giver does believe that about you. Make these 5 steps a focus for your next week at work. Stop to observe the thoughts and internal dialogue you have. Become aware of what you are telling yourself and then choose to make your internal dialogue and response system work for you! You can have a huge impact on your own level of self confidence and self belief simply by choosing to focus on these 5 areas and create positive thought patterns – and the flow on effects to your business and relationships will be great! What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts – does low self-confidence hold YOU back? Which area do you think will be most useful for you to focus on this week? What do you specifically do to raise your self-belief?

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