Answering Your Questions
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Answering Your Questions
This short video answers 4 excellent questions about situations that impact your confidence and self-esteem.
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Confidence and self-esteem are terms that are often talked about together, but there are differences, and I think it’s helpful to understand the difference.
I think most of us experience low levels of both from time to time - some people more than others.
As someone who grew up with extremely low confidence and self-esteem, I know how painful that can be. I also know that you can transform, increasing your confidence and developing healthy self-esteem.
I didn’t used to think it was possible, but, having done it, I now know that it is and it’s something that anyone can accomplish - if they want to! That’s the key - you have to want to.
In this article I’ll share what I have found to be most helpful, what has worked for me and what improves in your life when you are able to change in this way.
What is the Difference and Why Does it Matter?
Confidence is really about how you feel about your abilities, and self-esteem has more to do with how you feel about yourself - it relates to how you see yourself and relates to your sense of self-value and self worth.
Having low self-esteem can definitely have an effect on how confident you feel about something.
Even when you know you can do something, low self-esteem can mean that you don’t feel confident in your ability to carry it out, or that you worry about what people will think when you do.
For example, you can have low self-esteem, but be confident in certain areas of your life. Just like one client I worked with years ago who is a CPA. She is extremely confident in her work, but her low self-esteem allows her family to take advantage of her, causing her to feel extreme anxiety and stress.
Or you can have healthy self-esteem, but not feel confident about your abilities when it comes to certain things. This is often known as imposter syndrome - a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
There are many well-known people and celebrities whom we know to be very successful, who have also admitted to having the experience of imposter syndrome.
Many people also become very good at hiding low self-esteem, and can appear to be very confident.
When I was younger this is exactly what I did. I remember receiving a promotion to work as personal assistant to the assistant director of a company. I was constantly terrified that I was going to mess up and they would find out I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Over time I became friendly with the Director’s personal assistant and one day, several months after I’d been in the job, she shared with me that when I first started she felt intimidated by me because I was so efficient!
I couldn’t believe it. I felt anything but efficient. My low self-esteem caused me to lack confidence in my abilities - but I obviously hid it very well!
Strategies to Improve Confidence and Self-Esteem
Obviously, if you have low confidence and self-esteem, it’s not something that’s going to change overnight.
It’s a gradual process, and it’s something you work on every single day. It takes self-awareness, and a desire to improve. These are the steps that I’ve found to be helpful for me:
Notice - you have to become really good at noticing things like:
Becoming aware of a problem is always the first step to being able to change it.
Part of the problem is that we can become really good at hiding these things or denying them. When you make the decision that you want to change, then you will start to notice more.
Sometimes you won’t become aware of something until after it’s happened. It’s important not to be frustrated with that, because if this is new for you, it will take time for you to become really good at noticing.
Each time you do it, it will become easier and you’ll start to notice more.
Be honest - You must be really honest with yourself, and sometimes that’s uncomfortable.
For example, it took me quite a while to understand and admit to myself that my tendency towards perfectionism and unrealistic expectations was contributing to my feelings of not being good enough.
If I tried something new and it didn’t work right away, then I would feel like a failure. I would feel like there was something wrong with me, and would move on to look for answers elsewhere, instead of giving myself a chance to really learn from what I’d done and tweak it until I saw results. I would just dismiss it as a failure.
Acknowledging this was not comfortable for me at first. But doing so has enabled me to learn and move on. I now recognize whenever this is happening and can stop myself repeating the same unhealthy patterns.
Question everything - I have really learned to use the power of questions to turn things around. Whenever you find that you’re being critical of yourself or doubting yourself, asking questions like these can be transformative:
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have answers to the questions right away. Simply asking them is empowering. Turn a question over in your mind. Write about it. The answers you need will come, as long as you ask the questions.
Talk things through - I think it’s important to have someone on your side who is trustworthy and supportive that you can talk to. You don’t need them to tell you what to do - in fact it’s better if they don’t. Just ask them to listen and let you talk.
Often, just the simple act of reaching out to someone in this way can bring clarity and answers.
This happened for me recently. I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with some things that were going on for me, and could not see a way forward. At first, I tried to sort through it all by myself, but ultimately had to admit that I needed help.
I reached out to a trusted friend and talked things through with her. She asked me a few helpful questions and at the end of the call I had a new sense of clarity that I hadn’t been able to find by myself.
Before, I had no idea how to move forward. After the call, I knew exactly what to do - not because she told me what to do, but because the act of talking it through with someone brought me to the clarity I needed.
It’s important to recognize that not everybody is capable of fulfilling this role for you. So, if you talk to your partner, or friend, or family member, and don’t receive the kind of help and support you need, don’t be upset with them. Perhaps they are not able to give you what you need.
You’re not looking for someone to ‘fix’ things for you (tempting as that might be). You’re simply looking for someone who can listen, perhaps ask questions, and simply be there to support and encourage you. That may be a friend, or a colleague, or a coach or mentor. Know who that person is for you and don’t be afraid to ask them whenever you need help.
The more you do this, the more your confidence will grow, as you see that you do have what it takes to move through any challenge. Each time you will feel better about yourself as you gain the clarity you need.
Monitor your thoughts - Often people think this means that you should always think positive thoughts and never think negative ones. That’s not helpful at all.
These are important clues that tell you the belief of “I’m not good enough” is active.
Instead of trying to force yourself to change these thoughts into positive ones, instead, try asking yourself some of the questions mentioned above.
Another approach I’ve used with great success is to use “what if” questions to help you, like this:
I have found that using ‘what if’ in this way can help to calm the mind down and focus it on more helpful thoughts. It’s not about denying any negative or unhelpful thoughts - it’s about using them as stepping stones to your success, which will help you increase your sense of worth and confidence.
Celebrate your progress - Sometimes it’s difficult to see progress, because it can be subtle. So there’s a tendency to think you’re not making any.
This often happens with clients and it’s not until we take a look back to see where they were, how they felt, and what was going on when we first started working together that they realize they’ve made significant progress.
You can support yourself through this process by celebrating every single win. For example, you can give yourself a pat on the back:
These are all causes for celebration and will help you feel better about yourself.
Accept your uniqueness - Any time you compare yourself to other people you are setting yourself up for the experience of not feeling good enough.
We often put pressure on ourselves because we see what other people are doing and wonder why things don’t happen in the same way for us. Or we think we want to be like someone else, or we’re told we should be more like someone else or do things in the same way.
The truth is that you are unique. So am I. Instead of trying to be like someone else, or do things in the same way - find YOUR way. Be the best YOU that you can be.
When you can fully, completely and unapologetically be yourself, this is where you can experience true happiness, success and fulfillment by increasing confidence and self-esteem.
Trust yourself - If there’s one piece of advice I wish I could have given to my younger self it’s this.
My low levels of confidence and self-esteem caused me to put my trust in others, instead of trusting myself.
Have you ever done something that someone else wanted you to do, even though it didn’t feel right to you at all? But you did it because you thought they must be right?
Has this ever worked out for you?
I’ve done this many times in the past, and each time I paid a high price for it. I remember clearly the last time I did this. I had been working with a group of people on a particular project with the understanding that I was only helping to get things started. Once it was ready, I would leave, because I had other things I wanted to do.
However, when the time came, even though I knew it was not right for me, I let the others persuade me to stay. I told myself it wouldn’t be for long - but it ended up being about 4 years, and I was miserable.
I finally learned my lesson from that experience. I trust myself and if something doesn’t feel right for me, then I don’t do it. I don’t ever want to put myself in that position again. It was soul destroying.
Learn to trust yourself - talk things through with others, listen to advice from others, but ultimately, check in with yourself to see what feels right to you and trust it.
Your inner guidance is priceless, and it can take time to learn to trust it, but you can start right now.
3 Things to Keep in Mind
According to the Mayo Clinic, “When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas.”
I think that’s a really good description. It stands to reason also that when you have healthy self-esteem, your confidence increases too.
If your self-esteem is low right now, it may seem like an overwhelming task to change that. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. All you have to do is make a start and each little thing you do will bring added momentum.
There are many reasons why you’ll want to - here are just a few:
There’s no time like the present to get started!
For more information on how to be who you really are, request a free guide: 10 Steps to Be Who YOU Are.
People can often appear to be confident, especially when they are very knowledgeable. But no matter how much knowledge, skills and talents you have, or gain, that won’t help you feel better about yourself if you have the deep-seated belief that you’re not good enough.
In this short video you'll learn:
When someone asks you to describe yourself, you probably do what most of us do - talk about what you do - the roles that you carry out everyday. Such as, “I’m a wife, sister, daughter, teacher, accountant, counselor,” and so on.
But who are you beyond that?
Roles are things that can change - you might get divorced, so you’re no longer a wife; you might lose or change jobs, so you’re no longer a teacher or accountant. Who are you then?
When you know who you are outside of the roles that you carry out, you understand that it doesn’t matter what you ‘do,’ because you bring who you are to anything that you do and if what you do goes away it doesn’t matter, because you can easily apply yourself to something else.
However, many of us don’t really know who we are, and when you don’t then you’re likely to experience greater struggle because you will become more identified with what you do and with other people’s expectations for you, and think that’s who you are.
In this post I’ll discuss:
Knowing Yourself, and Why it Matters
Some people have a strong sense of their personality, gifts and abilities and what's most important to them from a very early age. They know who they are and what they want to accomplish. For example:
I’ve worked with many people who, like me, never had such a strong sense of self. When you look at people who have always known themselves that well, it’s easy to feel that there must be something wrong with you if you don’t. That’s certainly how I felt for a large part of my life.
When you don’t have a strong sense of self, it’s difficult to accept yourself, so I became a people-pleaser, doing everything I was asked in the hopes of gaining acceptance and approval from others. If someone had a problem, I felt it was my job to fix it.
I took on other people’s problems, and other people’s pain because I thought it was up to me to make things better for others.
I held myself back. I never spoke up for myself, and I let people dump all their problems onto me - at work and at home - because I thought it was my responsibility to make them happy with me.
I thought I was the only one who felt like this, but I have since discovered that there are many of us, looking for approval and acceptance from others because we cannot give it to ourselves. We cannot give it to ourselves when we don’t know who we really are, so we turn into a version of ourselves that is formed by the needs and expectations of others.
The Problem with Not Knowing Who You Are
I could go on.
You may be wondering what these things have to do with knowing, and being who you are. They may seem like random, external things to you, but they are not. They are all connected, because when you don’t know who you really are, you:
This also leads you to have no idea what it is that you really want, so you find yourself in jobs that are unfulfilling, or working so hard that you become exhausted and overwhelmed. You have no passion for what you do so you feel under-valued and unfulfilled.
You have no sense of why you’re here and what your true gifts and passions are, often you even wonder if you have any, or if you just got the short end of the stick. So you feel lost and drift from one thing to another without any sense of where you’re going or why. Until you wake up one day wondering how you arrived here and may even feel there’s no hope.
You find yourself fitting into other people’s agendas, so you’re always last on the list. Other people’s needs come before your own. You somehow feel responsible for others’ pain and insecurities. So you end up doing things that feel meaningless and unfulfilling to you, yet you don’t know how to stop the cycle.
What Changes as You Learn Who You Really Are?
As you begin to learn more about yourself, the next step is acceptance.
(Image by Gerd Altman, Pixabay)
You might discover something about yourself and wish that you were different. For example, I hear from many people who have discovered that they have the trait of being highly sensitive, as I do. This brings with it many challenges, but also many benefits.
When you focus only on the challenges associated with the trait it will cause you to try to ‘shut off’ your sensitivity, and deny it, because you want to fit in. When you resist it in this way, you will only experience more challenges. When you are able to accept it, then you learn how to deal with the challenges and benefit from the best aspects of the trait.
Truly knowing, accepting and connecting with who you really are is liberating. You begin to accept that you’re not like everyone else and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
How to Be Yourself
The first and most important thing to recognize is that this is a process, and it is unique for everyone. When you’ve been used to living as an inauthentic version of yourself that is not going to change overnight. So promise to be gentle and patient with yourself.
It’s really a process of unlearning - of letting go of who you thought you were, and in the process, discovering who you really are.
For example, as someone who used to be a chronic people-pleaser, I thought that’s who I was. I have since learned that I’m actually a really good people-challenger. If someone treats me badly now, I will call them on it right away - whereas I used to just accept it. If someone lies to me, I will let them know that I know, instead of being afraid to say something as I used to be in the past.
(Image by Ladyritzn, Pixabay)
Here are steps you can take to begin the process:
Get used to asking yourself questions
Whenever something doesn’t feel good or you’re not sure about something, you can ask questions like:
Is this really true for me?
Is this what I really want to be doing?
What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself in this situation?
What is it that I really want?
Asking questions in this way puts your energy, your focus and attention on finding what’s true and right for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have answers to the questions right away. Get used to asking yourself questions like this and answers will come to you and your truth will begin to emerge.
Learn from everything and everyone
Pay attention when someone says something they really like about you, don’t just dismiss it. For example, if someone says “you’re a really good listener,” and you find that people often come to you with their problems, then own the fact that you have this ability. Not everyone does.
In particular, be willing to learn from the difficult people and situations you encounter. Instead of resisting them, or talking about how unfair they are, ask yourself what you can learn from that person or situation. This is one of my favorite strategies, because you learn that every difficult encounter is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Once you learn what it is that you need to learn, then you won’t need that difficult person or situation any more.
Get used to treating yourself well. The better you treat yourself, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the more everyone around you benefits. This is surprisingly difficult for many people, and it used to be for me. I think not treating yourself well goes hand in hand with not knowing who you really are.
Treat yourself with love and kindness - as you would treat anyone else you really cared deeply about. Care for yourself in the same way.
Give Yourself What You Need
Often we get stuck because we’re not getting what we need from those close to us. Your family may not understand you, your spouse may not give you the response you were looking for when you share a challenge with them. You may feel unappreciated and unloved.
Instead of being upset that other people are not giving you what you need, learn to give it to yourself. Appreciate and value yourself, and you’ll find that you receive more appreciation from others. Release your expectations that others should give you what you need. Give it to yourself first, rather than needing it from someone else.
Know What’s Most Important to You
Sometimes people have a hard time with this. If you’re having trouble knowing what you really want and what’s really important, then start by making a list of what you know you don’t want. For example, if you hate the fact that you’re busy all the time and you never have any time to do things that you want to do, then perhaps your time and freedom to do what you want are particularly important to you.
As someone who used to put her own needs last and everyone else’s first, it was a revelation to me to learn that one of the most important things for me is my time and freedom to do what I want without being controlled by others. I no longer tolerate someone wasting my time or trying to tell me what to do.
Start learning about what is really important to you.
Take Care of Your Energy
Make your energy and vitality your number one priority. This means that you learn to set boundaries - saying no to what doesn’t serve you and yes to what does. To be able to do this you must know what is really important to you, as mentioned above.
The more you do this, the easier it is to let go of things that don’t support your energy. This includes people! If someone drains your energy, then why would you want to be around them?
Sometimes you have to be around someone who affects your energy in a negative way. Perhaps it’s a family member or co-worker. If that’s the case, accept who they are, and set the intention that you won’t allow them to take or manipulate your energy in any way. Refuse to let them pull you into their negativity.
As you begin to respond to them differently, they will no longer be able to negatively affect your energy.
Be Willing to Let Go
You will discover that there are things in your life that don’t support you and are not good for you. Be willing to disconnect from them and let go. Perhaps it’s a job or a group that you’ve been part of for a long time, but that doesn’t really serve you.
If you are a highly sensitive person or empath, it’s also highly likely that you take on (often without being aware of it) the energy of others. It could be individuals, or it could be collective energy - such as ancestral energy or global energy.
For example, think about all the emotional and physical pain that’s going on in the world right now - with COVID, fires in the west and storms and flooding in the east. There’s a lot of uncomfortable energy and if you allow yourself to take that on and be hooked into it, you will never be able to make any progress.
Learn to recognize when it is affecting you and be willing to let it go.
7 Tips and Reminders for Becoming Yourself
Are you feeling great about yourself and your life right now? If you are, give yourself a pat on the back and a round of applause because you know who you are and you are living as yourself.
If you don’t feel great about yourself and some aspect of your life, then there’s (inner) work to do. You’ll want to start right away by implementing what I’ve shared in this article.
We’re only here for a limited amount of time - and none of us knows how long that is. Don’t waste another day not knowing and being who you really are. Start the process now.
It’s your choice of course, you don’t have to do this. But do you really want to be repeating the same patterns and be in the same place 1, 3 or 5 years from now?
When you’re ready to commit to being who you really are, connect with others who have made the same commitment. I invite you to join the Know, Accept and BE Who You Are program. It’s a monthly membership program where you’ll learn everything you need to know, and receive the support and guidance you need to really know, accept and finally BE who you really are.
Try it for one month for just $1, if you like it, the price is just $47/month after the first month. You can cancel at any time.
Why is it so difficult for some of us to know, accept and BE who we really are?
That’s the question I’m discussing in this video post, along with thoughts on:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the things that can hold you back when you’re diligently working to discover and accept who you really are and then BE your true self is external energy - coming from others - that you’re not aware of. Join me at a live online event, as I discuss what energy holds you back with Medical Intuitive, Jacqueline Kane on Wednesday, September 16th at 9:30am Pacific/12:30pm Eastern.
There is often a lot of confusion about high sensitivity and whether it has links to ADHD.
In this video I team up with Productivity Expert and ADHD Coach, Sue West for a discussion on the differences.
Because HSPs can easily become overwhelmed there is often an assumption that they may have ADHD - while it is possible, that's not necessarily true. That's why I'm excited to have this conversation.
I learned a lot from our conversation - I hope you will too.
Whether you have ADHD or not, whether you're highly sensitive or not, most challenges and feelings of anxiety and overwhelm come because in some way you feel it's not okay to be you.
We push ourselves so hard to be more, to do more and accomplish more, and to fit in and succeed, when often all we need to do is simply learn howto be ourselves.
To help you do just that I've put together a free simple guide to help you Be Who You Are. It's a short, downloadable e-book that contains 10 Steps to help you Know Yourself, Accept Yourself and BE Yourself. Request your copy by clicking the button below.
I think everyone experiences stress or anxiety from time to time, and there’s no doubt that stress and anxiety levels are heightened at the moment.
Life as we know it has changed and continues to change. There’s so much that is unknown and unknowable at this point, and yet we have to find ways to stay safe and well and continue to move forward, even when we don’t know what that means.
Some people handle change and the unknown quite well, and others struggle with it. What happens when that stress and anxiety build up so that they completely overwhelm you?
Even if you do usually handle stress and change quite well, many people are feeling overwhelmed right now, so how do you bounce back from that?
In this post I’ll be sharing strategies to help you bounce back whenever you feel overwhelmed.
Anxiety and Overwhelm
The definition of anxiety is: “the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event.” (Anxiety.org). This is something that we all experience from time to time.
When the levels of anxiety build, you can find yourself in a state of overwhelm. This is when it all feels like it’s just too much and you don’t know what to do to feel better.
Anxiety can turn into a disorder when it affects your ability to function. That’s not what I’m covering here - and if you do feel you have an anxiety disorder, it’s important to receive professional help and treatment.
When you are faced with regular, day-to-day anxiety, which can lead to overwhelm, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself, and that’s what I want to look at here.
How to Cope When You Feel Overwhelmed
The following strategies and techniques are all simple and effective ways to help you whenever you start to feel overwhelmed:
Take a Breath
When you feel like things are spiraling out of control and you are overwhelmed with emotions, and stressful thoughts and you can’t think clearly, you can use your breathing to bring a sense of calm and clarity.
This is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Simply put your focus and attention onto your breathing. Be aware as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
For this, you don’t have to change your breathing, simply put your attention on it. You can even repeat to yourself (in your mind) “I am breathing in, I am breathing out” with each breath.
If you want to take it a step further, you can imagine that as you breathe in you are breathing in calm energy, and as you breathe out you are letting go of all stress and anxiety.
You only need to do this for a few breaths, perhaps 5 - 10, which will take less than a minute.
This article in Psychology Today goes into more detail about how to use breathing to relieve anxiety and shares more breathing techniques.
Focusing on your breathing keeps you in the present moment, rather than worrying about something that’s happened or that might happen.
Let Go of Resistance
Stress is created when we resist what is happening. We say things like “this shouldn’t be happening to me,” or “this isn’t fair.”
The truth is that it is happening. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you will be able to change it. When you keep fighting something because it ‘shouldn’t be happening’ you will stay stuck in it much longer.
Resisting something takes up a great deal of your energy. It depletes you and, as the saying goes “what you resist persists.”
When you let go of resistance and accept that whatever is happening is happening (even if you don’t like it) and release needing to label it as bad, you can claim your energy back.
Surrendering in this way brings peace and it also brings solutions to difficult problems. The solutions can’t come when you are focusing your energy on the fact that it shouldn’t be happening.
Resistance brings fear, and acceptance brings clarity.The energy of acceptance and appreciation will move you forward faster than the energy of resistance and resentment.
If you don’t like the word ‘acceptance’ because it feels like giving in, then choose another word, like ‘acknowledge.’
Re-Frame Your Thoughts
“There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” - William Shakespeare
It’s said that we think somewhere between 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts each day, and that most of those thoughts are the same. When you’re worried about something, you can’t stop thinking about it. Your mind makes up stories about the worst that could happen. You start to imagine all sorts of terrible scenarios and each one makes you feel worse and worse, draining your energy.
Most of this happens unconsciously. All you know is you feel terrible and it’s difficult to get things done – and you’re probably not too much fun to be around, particularly if you constantly talk about those worrying thoughts.
What do you think about obsessively? Do you worry about your health, money, relationships, or your weight? Do you worry about the economy or constantly think about the danger your children could be in or whether you’ll still have a job tomorrow?
Identifying what you think about – particularly your repetitive thoughts – can come as something of a surprise. Most people are surprised by just how many negative and unhelpful thoughts they have each day.
Pay attention to your thoughts and notice when you think negative and unhelpful thoughts or when you’re thinking the same thoughts over and over. You may be surprised at what you find.
Once you know what you’re thinking you can make a conscious effort to change the unhelpful thoughts. This will renew your energy and, since you attract into your life what you focus on, it will help you to attract more positive people and situations into your life – and that’s always a good thing.
People often feel that changing your thoughts means you have to force yourself to think positive thoughts, but that doesn’t work and can actually be counter-productive.
You can’t deny that you’re thinking the thoughts you are thinking and forcing yourself not to think them doesn’t work. Instead, you can use them, and learn from them, which then allows you to change them.
So if you’re trying to force yourself to think positively, try paying attention to the thoughts and ask yourself what you can learn from them. This is the first step to being able to change them.
If you find it difficult to change your thoughts, try one of these techniques:
Try turning any negative what if’s around, like this:
You get the idea. This is a technique I have used many times with great success. Our minds tend to go easily to negative what-if’s, so just turn those around to more positive ones.
Reframe with Affirmations
Affirmations can be helpful, but they must be believable. If you’re feeling absolutely exhausted and you tell yourself you are filled with boundless energy, you know you’re lying and I think that no amount of repeating that affirmation will change things.
The answer is to change it to something more believable. Instead, you could say :
“I have all the energy I need to accomplish what I want today.”
Since I have had challenges with insomnia over the years I often feel very tired. Whenever my thoughts turn to how tired I am and how little energy I have, I tell myself I have all the energy I need to do what it is that I need to do. And you know what? I always do.
Another way is to remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can. This is also a good way to quieten those unhelpful thoughts, such as:
Write out your thoughts
Sometimes there are so many thoughts running round in your head it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
This is where writing can really help you. Get a notebook and write out everything that’s on your mind. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense. You can write any thoughts or words that come up. You’re not going to publish it or show it to anybody.
The purpose of doing this is to calm your mind down by getting the thoughts out of your head. Don’t think about it as you write, just write. You may be surprised at some of the things that come out. There could be thoughts you didn’t even know that you were thinking.
Once you know what you’re thinking, you can ask yourself if these thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. Are they supporting you or harming you?
Think about what thoughts would be more helpful and then, whenever you notice your mind going over the unhelpful thoughts, you can choose to replace them with more helpful ones.
Let Nature Help You
Being in nature has an incredibly calming effect on us. There have been many studies that show this is the case. This article on the Positive Psychology website goes into more detail about the positive effects of nature.
I know that for me, if ever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed with something, I just have to go for a walk outside, or sit on my deck and listen to the birds and feel the energy of the trees and I feel better very quickly.
If you are not able to go outside, there are other ways to benefit from nature. You can surround yourself with pictures of beautiful nature scenes, you can have beautiful indoor plants, you can even listen to nature sounds. I like to use Insight Timer, which is a free app, where I can listen to sounds of the ocean waves and birdsong or a waterfall or rain falling anytime I want.
In a recent article I published on self-care, Joan Vorderbruggen shared some of the benefits of the Japanese practice of Forest Bathing, which has become popular all over the world as a way to bring people back to balance.
Never underestimate the healing power of nature. If you have animal companions I’m sure you also know the calming effect they can have too. Just being around animals can have a calming and balancing effect.
Let nature support you and help you maintain a sense of balance in stressful times.
Move Your Body
Many studies have been carried out that show the health benefits of exercise and this article from Harvard Medical School explains how it helps with anxiety.
I have certainly found this to be true. For me, I enjoy walking, playing tennis and yoga and find them extremely beneficial.
I think that when your body feels healthy and strong, you feel better mentally and emotionally too.
Walking is certainly easy to do - no equipment needed. If you want to do yoga or find some other form of exercise there are many YouTube videos and I’m sure you can find one that you like.The most important thing is that it’s enjoyable and you do it consistently.
Calm Your Mind
I’ve already talked about using affirmations, conscious breathing and changing your thoughts can help to calm your mind, but there are other techniques that are helpful too. Here are a few:
Meditation - many people struggle with the idea of meditation because they find it difficult to switch off their mind. I’m the same way.
The goal of meditation is not to stop you thinking, but rather to notice the thoughts and let them pass through your mind. When your mind is overwhelmed with thoughts this can also be difficult - that’s when guided meditations can be helpful, or you can use music for meditation or simply practice focusing on your breathing.
The other difficulty people have is carving out time to meditate. You don’t have to meditate for hours each day for it to be effective. Even if you did 5 or 10 minutes each day, that would be extremely beneficial.
This article from the Ram Dass organization shares 17 ways you can use meditation to help with anxiety and has some good advice for letting go when you feel overwhelmed.
Emotional Freedom Technique - You’ve probably heard of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and there’s no doubt that it can be very helpful.
I have used EFT in the past and it did help. For some reason I don’t find it’s as effective for me any more, but if you haven’t tried it I think it’s worth a try.
EFT Practitioner, Brad Yates, has a helpful YouTube Video with a 6-minute exercise to help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Journaling - If you’ve never tried journaling or you think that you don’t have time for it, I recommend you give it a try. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and you don’t even have to do it everyday in order to benefit.
I have used journaling in the past to help me process my thoughts or simply get them out of my head. I find it helps to bring clarity and helps to uncover thoughts that were well hidden.
I find it particularly helpful to do first thing in the morning, before starting your day, or last thing at night before you go to sleep - this is particularly helpful if you find it difficult to sleep because of all the thoughts going round in your head.
This article from VeryWellMind (an online resource for mental health) shares some helpful journaling techniques for coping with anxiety.
Music - It is well-known that music can soothe or energize us. Whenever you have the chance, let music calm your anxieties and bring you to a place of peace.
Everyone’s choice of music is different. The important thing is to know what type of music really relaxes and soothes you.
I think music is a resource we often forget about when stressed or overwhelmed. Remember that it has the power to reduce stress and incorporate more music into your life.
Organize Your Environment
When you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, probably the last thing you think of doing is decluttering and organizing at home or work. Yet this is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Isn’t it frustrating to be disorganized? How often do you find yourself wasting time looking for something that you know you have, but you can’t remember where you put it? It wastes time, it creates frustration, it drains your energy.
It’s easy to become disorganized when you’re very busy. It seems as though you cannot take the time to organize things because you have so much to do. But if you do the time to organize, you’ll actually be much more efficient at doing everything else.
The thing to do is to schedule time – actually put it on your calendar – to organize. Whether you do it once each week or once per month doesn’t matter, as long as you do it. If necessary, hire a professional organizer to come in and help you. When everything has a place and you know exactly where to put it when you’re finished with it, life is so much easier and you’ll be much more energized.
Sometimes it may be difficult to get started, but usually people find that once they do start, it feels so good they want to let go of even more.
If you find it difficult to let go of things, ask yourself these simple questions:
If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, then why are you keeping it?
Decluttering frees up your energy and opens up the space for new and more positive energy to come in. Letting go and being organized feels really good you’ll feel a lot less overwhelmed.
Master Your Self-Talk
How you talk to yourself matters. Whether things are going well, do you tell yourself not to become too complacent because something bad might happen? When things are not going well which voice wins - the inner critic or your inner coach?
If you want to feel less stressed and anxious and handle overwhelming situations with greater ease, you’ll want to learn to master your self-talk.
Being aware of and changing your thoughts, as we’ve already discussed, is the first step to helping you master your self-talk.
I have a couple of other favorite methods that I like to use that I’ll share with you:
Use powerful questions: When you don’t know what to do, or you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed here are some helpful questions that will make a big difference:
Don’t expect a major aha moment as soon as you ask these questions, instead, let the questions sit in your mind and be willing to be guided towards the answers. The answers will come, whether it’s the same day or the following day or in a week, it doesn’t matter.
The point is that in asking the questions you are taking care of yourself and supporting yourself through a difficult situation, which is much better and more effective than beating yourself up or worrying.
Use my favorite affirmation: This affirmation is so powerful I share it with everyone I know who is experiencing a difficult situation.
It’s from Louise Hay and you’ll find that it has an immediate calming effect on you, and, even more than that, it will result in a positive outcome:
“Out of this situation only good will come, for the highest good of everyone. I am safe.”
I love this affirmation and you will too.
Practice Radical Self-Care
I wrote recently about the meaning of radical self-care and how to practice it. You might be wondering what self-care has to do with anxiety and overwhelm. The answer is everything.
When you take care of yourself, not just externally, but internally, you’ll find that you handle difficult situations with greater ease.
Taking care of yourself in this way means that you bring the best of yourself to everything you do. Your energy will be lighter, you’ll feel better, you’ll attract more people and situations that feel good to you.
Self-care is not selfish, it is exactly the opposite. Learn how to take good care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually and you won’t allow anxiety and overwhelm to take over again.
It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never encounter another situation that is stressful or that causes some anxiety. But when you practice the strategies outlined in this article, you will be able to take control before you start feeling overwhelmed.
The more you do this, the easier it gets and the better it gets. These strategies work and they are simple.
Whether you feel overwhelmed at work, overwhelmed at home, or overwhelmed with life in general, you don’t need to look outside yourself for solutions. Pick one of these strategies and use it. When you’ve mastered that, choose another one, and so on.
You have the power to bounce back quickly from anxiety and overwhelm.
If you’re ready to make a change, but feel too overwhelmed to start, contact me for a complimentary 15-minute Breakthrough Session and together we’ll create a plan for you to bounce back.
There are many things that can cause stress, anxiety or even overwhelm.
Something that feels stressful or overwhelming to you might not affect someone else the same way.
Whatever it is that creates anxiety or overwhelm for you, it’s important to know how to recognize and manage it so you can restore your balance and calm.
It’s helpful to have some tools available to use when you do find yourself in a situation that creates anxiety or becomes overwhelming.
This short video shares a simple but powerful technique that will help you feel better, and help you handle any stressful situation.
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
There are many ways we can (and do) undervalue ourselves. Some of them may seem quite harmless, but little by little, every time you do it, you chip away at your sense of self-worth, value, self-esteem and confidence.
I see and hear people do it every day, in ways they’re not even aware of, and I still catch myself doing it sometimes, even though I know better!
This article looks at some of the ways we undervalue ourselves and, most importantly, how to stop.
What is Undervaluing, and Why Does it Matter?
In an article on the mindshift.money blog, author Dr. Tony Pennells says “when you undervalue your own merit as a person, you tell yourself - and the world - that you’re unworthy or less than everyone else. And that can wreak havoc not just on your money but on all areas of your life.”
It’s not just about how undervaluing affects you financially, it really has an impact on all areas of your life.
There’s no doubt that when you undervalue yourself, others will too. There is a saying that “we teach people how to treat us,” and it’s very true. We teach people by what we allow and tolerate, as well as how we talk to and about ourselves.
Have you ever heard someone say “I’m useless at that”? Or perhaps when somebody gives them a compliment they might say “oh, it was nothing.” Words like these can slip out of our mouths so easily, and often that’s nothing compared to the kinds of undervaluing thoughts we have that we don’t give voice to.
It’s not just about how others see you, it’s about how you see yourself, how you treat yourself and what you allow into your life.
Undervaluing yourself can cost you in many ways and often you may not even know you’re doing it. For example:
You may find that people don’t respect you or your time. You find it difficult to set boundaries and so other people take advantage of you or are rude to you. As a result, your confidence and self-esteem are low. The worse and more insecure you feel, the more difficult you find it to enjoy relationships with others - either romantically or socially.
When you value yourself you do set boundaries, you won’t allow someone to be rude to you or take advantage of you. You are confident in your ability to let people know you won’t tolerate being treated poorly.
If you want to have a meaningful and fulfilling career and enjoy the highest levels of success, you must learn to value yourself. When you don’t, you may find yourself being overlooked for promotions, or struggling to promote yourself in your company or in your business.
This can cost you financially as you are not paid what you’re really worth.
Undervaluing yourself can take its toll physically. When you value yourself you tend to take better care of yourself. Valuing yourself means you want to take care of your body, you want to eat well, to exercise and to feel good.
When you don’t value yourself your self-esteem is low. Low self-esteem makes you vulnerable to depression. Those who are successful and fulfilled and who truly enjoy life have a healthy mental outlook. When you don’t value yourself, and others don’t value you, it’s hard to notice or focus on anything that’s positive. Your mind finds it difficult to go there and it stays attached to everything that’s wrong in your life.
I think deep down what everyone really wants is to be happy and enjoy life. Nobody wants to be miserable and unhappy. Undervaluing affects your moods and your ability to allow yourself to experience happiness. Often, when people undervalue themselves they have a deep-seated belief that they don’t deserve to be happy. That’s a belief that will negatively impact all areas of your life.
When you begin to really value yourself you will notice a shift and improvement in your relationships and experiences, and very importantly in how you feel.
As with everything, the first step to change is awareness, the second is a willingness to change.
How to Start Valuing Yourself
The first and most important step is to become aware of when, where and how you undervalue yourself.
It can be something that’s so deeply ingrained, and that you’re so used to doing that you’re not at all aware of it.
Here are some of the most common ways we undervalue ourselves. Pay attention to which ones apply to you.
Do you frequently doubt yourself and your abilities? If you grew up with constant criticism and negative messages then chances are you do often doubt yourself.
I also know people who were pushed to succeed when they were younger and who never quite felt they were capable of accomplishing what their parents wanted them to, consequently they doubt themselves as adults.
For those who had narcissistic parents or who were perceived as being “too sensitive” the criticism and being made to feel that who you are is wrong can be too much to bear.
If you grew up with a narcissistic parent self-doubt will most likely be deeply programmed within you. An article in Psychology Today states that “if raised by a narcissistic parent, an adult child will invariably be fearful that they will grow up to be narcissistic themselves. This makes it difficult to give self credit for fear of being arrogant or behaving like a narcissist.”
No matter where it comes from, doubting yourself and your abilities is a sure sign that you’re undervaluing yourself.
I used to be filled with self-doubt, but when I started working I began to receive very different messages from the ones I had heard growing up. People told me what a great job I did. They told me I was conscientious. I received promotions.
I noticed that my colleagues tended to bring me work to do, rather than giving it to someone else because they felt I did a better job! This led me to start questioning everything I thought I knew (and was told) about myself growing up.
To be able to let to go of feelings of self-doubt I recommend two things:
Each time you catch yourself saying “I can’t” do something or doubting your abilities in any way, stop and ask yourself:
Your mind might resist the idea, but keep asking the question. It’s a good way to quieten the inner critic that tells you that ‘you can’t’, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you do actually accomplish.
The second thing is to start a list of all the things you’ve accomplished, and all the things you feel good about achieving throughout your life. No matter how small it may seem, add it to the list if it was meaningful to you at the time.
A business coach I was working with once asked me to do this because she wanted to see what types of things I’d done in the past. Not only was she amazed when I produced my list, so was I. There were so many things I’d achieved that I’d forgotten about or not even considered as particularly special at the time, but when I saw the list and looked back on all the things I’d done it helped me to see that there was no more room for self-doubt in my life.
You’ve already accomplished many great things, I know you have. But I bet you’ve forgotten most of them, or never really appreciated them at all. Make that list - I think you’ll find that you’re capable of so much more than you think and you’ll start to see that you don’t need to doubt yourself any more.
Sensitive to the Opinions of Others
When others have the ability to upset you or diminish you in some way, you are definitely undervaluing yourself.
As a recovering people-pleaser I know how difficult this can be. You want to fit in. You want people to like you. You want to feel like you’re doing a good job. But if someone else has the power to upset you by what they say or do - you’ve given them that power.
One of the things that helped me overcome this is the following affirmation/statement from Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements:
The thing I learned which is so powerful, is that when other people are feeling insecure or in pain themselves, they will often lash out at someone else in an attempt to either help themselves feel better, or to make someone else feel as bad as they do. So it really doesn’t have anything to do with you.
Of course, it’s not nice when you’re the person they are lashing out at, but if you remind yourself that what they are doing/saying/feeling has nothing to do with you, then you don’t have to take it on. You don’t have to let yourself be affected by them.
This is not something that changes overnight, but if you start to be aware of when and how this happens, you can start to change it in small ways. Print out this statement by Don Miguel Ruiz and keep it somewhere where you can see it. Read it whenever you feel someone is making you feel bad. Start taking your power back in small ways and it will get easier with time.
This has been a life-changer for me, because I used to be deeply affected by other people’s negative comments and criticism, and it can be life changing for you too.
Fear of Failure or Success
Do you hold yourself back because you’re afraid you might fail? Do you say no to things you’d really like to say yes to?
Nobody likes to fail, and that’s doubly true for you if you happen to be a perfectionist. Any time you attempt something new there’s a possibility that there will be a learning curve and that it may take some time for you to get it right. That’s true for anyone, but if you don’t even try because you’re afraid of failing, that goes back to the self-doubt that we talked about earlier.
Along with fear of failure, there is also fear of success. At first you may wonder why anyone would have a fear of succeeding. Doesn’t everybody want to succeed?
I think that fear of success can be more devastating than fear of failure, because it’s more likely to go undetected. If you find yourself unable to go beyond a certain level without something happening to stop you - almost as if you’re sabotaging yourself - then you may be experiencing fear of success.
It could be that there’s a fear of what will happen once you do achieve the goals you set for yourself. Perhaps you’re really afraid that:
How do you know that you have one or both of these fears and what do you do about it?
One helpful way I’ve found is to sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine yourself doing what it is you want to be doing. Imagine yourself reaching the goal you’ve set. Visualize it in as much detail as you can. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?
Next, pay attention to how you feel as you visualize this. Do you feel relaxed and happy? Do you feel energized? That’s great.
Or, do you find it difficult to visualize? Is it hard to imagine yourself accomplishing what you want? If so, it may be that you don’t believe you can do it. You feel it’s not possible, that you’ll fail. It’s possible that you have a fear of failure.
Or, do you notice some stress in your body, some tightness or pain. Do you notice some anxiety as you see yourself reaching your goal? It’s possible that you’re experiencing a fear of success.
I’ve always enjoyed coaching people. I enjoy doing individual coaching and group coaching. A few years ago I had just completed a program to help me establish a full-time coaching practice, but even though I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, things weren’t happening in the way that I wanted or expected. My coaching practice was not growing and I felt frustrated.
So one day I sat down and did this exercise. I visualized myself with a full coaching practice, talking with several clients each day.
As I did this I noticed that there was a tightness in my chest. It was hard for me to breathe. I was experiencing anxiety.
When I took the time to examine what I was feeling and what was behind it, I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted. The idea of being on the phone all day, everyday, with one client after another felt too restrictive to me.
From this exercise I realized that, although I love coaching, I also want to be doing other things - like creating courses, and online programs, writing and doing other creative projects. This was very enlightening for me because I realized the goal I was striving for was not right for me. No wonder I was afraid of succeeding!
So now I have structured my business very differently. I do have coaching clients, but not all day, every day. It’s a much better fit for me and I have the freedom I really wanted.
Another helpful way to identify if fear of failure or success is holding you back is to write about it. Take a notebook and complete the following statements - allow yourself to write without thinking, and write whatever comes to you:
This activity may bring up some key insights for you.
Shame and Feeling Not Good Enough
Renowned shame researcher, Brene Brown, defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
The belief that you’re not good enough affects the way you think and feel and everything you do. When you feel there’s something wrong with you then you do experience shame, which certainly links to undervaluing yourself.
This is a deep-seated belief and I’m not going to pretend that there’s a simple way to move beyond it. This article in Psychology Today that explains how a therapist would help someone deal with this. The important thing is to recognize that you feel this way, that you have this belief and that you carry a sense of shame.
Many people who are highly sensitive are all too familiar with these feelings, particularly if they grew up in a family that did not understand them, and where they were made to feel there was something wrong with them.
As a highly sensitive person myself, and as many of my clients are also highly sensitive, I understand first-hand how difficult it is to value yourself when you feel the shame of not being good enough.
When you feel this way, it is very important that you find people who are supportive and understand exactly what you’re experiencing. Building a community of encouraging and supportive people is crucial, as is distancing yourself from those who continue to make you feel that you’re not good enough.
A study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology shows there is a correlation between self-esteem and how much money people make.
When you don’t recognize your true value and worth, it’s likely you’ll find you’re being paid less than others that perhaps have less ability and experience than you.
If you work for an organization you may not feel confident enough to ask for a raise or a reasonable starting salary. If you work for yourself, you may experience difficulty charging what you’re worth or finding customers who are willing to pay what you’re worth.
If you are struggling financially in any way, it’s likely that you have some unhelpful beliefs about money and what you feel you deserve, which lead you to not value yourself enough.
Here are some common beliefs about money that will cause you to undervalue yourself:
Casey Brown is a Pricing Consultant. In her TED Talk she shares helpful stories and learnings that can help you know your worth, better communicate your value and get paid for your excellence.
I also think it’s helpful to become aware of the beliefs you have about money that may be causing you to undervalue yourself, your skills, talents and abilities and stopping you from asking for (and receiving) what you’re worth.
Here’s a helpful exercise that can uncover those unconscious beliefs about money that cause you to undervalue yourself:
You may receive some insights right away, or it may take time for them to come. Writing about your experience can help you uncover what’s going on more quickly.
Most importantly, going forward, become aware of any thoughts and feelings you have when it comes to money and receiving what you’re worth - and what you feel you’re worth.
Awareness is the key to change. Once you become aware of the beliefs you have around money and how they contribute to you undervaluing yourself, you will start the process of change.
When did you last compare yourself to someone and then had the thought that the person you were comparing yourself to was somehow better than you?
We do it all the time: “That person’s fitter, smarter, taller, thinner, younger, faster, wealthier, more accomplished, etc., than me.”
Whenever you measure yourself against other people, you lose sight of your own value. Instead, it’s much more important to focus on who YOU are, what YOUR skills, gifts and talents are and what YOU want out of life.
It really doesn't matter what someone else does or what they want. We are all different. We all have different abilities and desires. Comparing yourself to others is not helpful and is really a waste of time and energy.
You might compare yourself to someone else and find yourself thinking that you’re somehow better than them and you might think that’s a sign that you do value yourself highly. But I think if you really valued yourself then you wouldn’t feel the need to compare in the first place.
When you compare yourself to others, you’re more likely to feel insecure, envious, and discontented.
Again, comparing is something you probably are not even aware you’re doing most of the time. So the key is to bring it into your awareness. For example:
When you experience feelings of envy, discontent or dissatisfaction in this way, then you are comparing (and undervaluing) yourself.
Here’s an affirmation you will find useful. Any time you become aware that you’re comparing yourself to someone else, repeat this to yourself:
I release the need to compare myself to others. I am good enough just as I am.
I hope you can see that undervaluing yourself is not helpful, it’s not productive and it serves no-one. I hope you are also beginning to see how you may be doing it without even knowing.
You might be thinking that it’s too difficult to change. I’m living proof that it’s not. I grew up thinking I had no value, that I had nothing to offer and I have turned that around completely. I wouldn’t even recognize the person I was back then.
If I can do it I know you can too. It’s one of the greatest joys for me when I work with clients who undervalue themselves and feel they’re not good enough - to see them learn how to fully embrace who they are, become more confident, and own their value and worth.
The first step is always awareness, and a willingness and desire to stop the behavior that is not serving you. Once you know where, when and how you undervalue yourself, you can stop doing it, little by little, until you eventually break free completely.
Once you experience the benefits, you will never want to go back! Commit to taking the first step today.
Are you ready to stop undervaluing yourself but don't know where and how to start? Contact me for a complimentary15-minute clarity session and I’ll point you in the right direction.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
How do you undervalue yourself?
Sometimes you might be aware that you’re doing it, sometimes you might not be aware.
As I’ve looked into this more deeply over the years, I’ve found that there are many ways this undervaluing can happen.
This video shares what’s probably the most common way we undervalue ourselves. I think it’s something we all do at some time or another, and you might be doing it more often than you think!
I hope you enjoy the video and that it encourages you to learn how to stop undervaluing and start valuing yourself a little more each day.
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