Let’s say Geena is your friend of many years. She is a smart, creative, go-getter and beautiful to top it off – a source of admiration for many. Yet still, she confides in you, whenever she lands a major success like getting published in a popular publication or being accepted into a competitive position, she has this creeping sense of being a fraud, as if she does not deserve it, brushing it all off with “oh, it’s really nothing.”
You can hardly believe it when she expresses feelings of insecurity to you despite her many positive qualities. When it comes to her own personal life goals and dreams, you are surprised that she expresses a deep lack of confidence in pursuing them.
Do you know anyone like this?
Even though Geena may seem like an extreme example, the truth is many women come to me for coaching because they notice that despite their past successes and their many amazing qualities, they just don’t have the confidence they need in order to move forward with their soul-centered projects and goals.
Like Geena, these women are very talented, intelligent and sensitive but, for some reason, they still harbor a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. In other words, they lack confidence. Oftentimes they feel like they are frauds at their work and in their personal lives, and are somehow essentially unable to achieve, or undeserving of the type of job or lifestyle they truly desire.
How does this happen?
Women like Geena create “failure stories” about themselves and their abilities based on both external circumstances in their lives and what they perceive other people think of them. These failure stories become strongly activated when they hit challenges or disappointments in their life. For example: if a client happens to leave them, if they don’t land the job they really want, if their partner breaks up with them, if they gain five pounds, or, simply, if they don’t feel they are living up to the standards they have set for themselves.
When you lack confidence, it affects you in many ways. It can affect your decision making skills, the types of jobs you believe you deserve and then apply for, the salary you ask for, your relationships, and even how you treat your body.
When I work with women, we very often find that their lack of confidence stems from early life experiences where they were not given the proper feedback in order to objectively see themselves. Usually influential people like parents, teachers, older siblings and mentors serve as mirrors for us in our early years, they show us what we should think of ourselves.
Confidence issues can arise from having been told by an influential person that you were just not capable of, or allowed to do, certain things. Conversely, confidence issues can be produced by having been constantly fed positive, yet too general statements, like that you were simply “good at everything.”
When you are not given accurate mirrors and reflections to help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, it becomes very difficult for you to assess yourself and thereby have confidence in your actual capabilities and talents. It is essential to have a strong objective sense of self in order for you to be happy and to have confidence in your ability to create a life that is aligned for you….and it is very possible to cultivate this sense of self, no matter what your previous experiences have been!
To help you with this mighty, yet rewarding, task, I would like to present you with an easy process that will help you begin to assess your own strengths and weaknesses.
1) Create a list of your strengths, talents, positive qualities, and “wins”: It is essential for you to get clear on what you are good at and what your gifts are. This list can include anything from “great at book-keeping” to “intuitive” to “great at communicating with others” to “extensive knowledge of X, Y, or Z” to “organizing a major conference with 500 attendees.”
2) Create a list of the areas in your life – inner or outer – that you sense you would like to improve: Getting clear on this is just as important as getting clear on your strengths because it allows you let go of your failure stories and focus on amping up the areas that you sense would really be beneficial to you. This list can include anything from “becoming more organized” to “strengthening my core muscles” to “becoming more informed about X, Y, or Z” to “expressing my anger appropriately.”
3) Create a list of your “weaker” areas that you are willing to accept: This is key. There is no single person that I know that is good and fully developed at EVERYTHING. It’s simply not possible. However, I find that quite often folks beat themselves up for not being good at everything, thus adding more evidence and strength to their failure story. Get clear on the things that you may not have a natural strength for, and that don’t really matter to you anyway. For example, I will most likely never be a super-star athlete, and that is ok with me. My health and care for my body are important to me, but excelling at team sports is not a priority in my life.
Once you create these lists, you will be able to objectively and powerfully assess yourself and your capabilities, providing you with an opportunity to let go of your failure story and create a new and real picture based on the sacred, incredible person that you are.