It’s no secret that the road to self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-love is a tricky and tumultuous journey. There will be potholes, speedbumps and all kinds of crazy cargo along the way. Sure, things might not always go to plan and you might find yourself needing to re-fuel and pull over a few times along the way, though one thing can always be assured;
With a little determination, the final destination is always within your reach.
For as long as time has allowed, women have doubted themselves. They have doubted their abilities, their worth, their potential and, most crushingly, women have doubted their purpose in life and their reason for being. Too often, women are their own worst enemies and by far their harshest critic.
But can we blame them?
Despite the rising talk of equality these days, it is still a common occurrence for women to be negatively stereotyped, particularly in male-dominated sectors and industries. This is not because women are any less capable than men in those domains, it is because they are simply influenced to believe so; and, in many cases, are denied the opportunity to prove their worth to others.
While close to 53 percent of professional careers are held by women, females remain substantially unrepresented when it comes to leadership roles and management opportunities. Less than 15% of the world’s CEO’s are women, as are only 8% of the global top earners. Current statistics estimate that women will not achieve global leadership equality until the year 2085. Scary, right?
With that in mind, there are certainly more barriers that women are facing than the traditional workplace dilemmas. Sadly, many women tend to hold themselves back from advancement and opportunities for success due to self-imposed barriers such as doubt and fear. All too often, women tend to wallow in their weaknesses so much that they do not allow “weak things” to “become strong.”
That’s just the thing though, strong women are not born.
Strong women are made.
It is the resilience, passion and tenacity demonstrated by an individual that makes for a strong woman. It is the failures, heartbreaks, losses and mistakes that help a woman to grow, learn and succeed. The most successful women to grace our history books had all overcome adversity in one way or another to celebrate their strength - It’s the classic hero storyline.
While a foreign and entirely uncomfortable concept to some, it IS possible to be your own hero. There’s an old saying that goes “The fear of doubt will kill more dreams than failure ever will”, and it is 100% correct. You are the driver of your success and, regardless of the hardship you may be facing, you are entirely capable of creating a happier life for yourself.
Once you realize that you have all of that power within you, you can start to take responsibility for your life and tackle all of those scary things that you would once reject in a swift instance. At the end of the day, self-confidence all comes down to your mindset and whether you believe that you are worthy of the things in life that you would like to have and see for yourself.
The next time you notice that niggling inner-critic creeping in, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Acknowledge what is happening for you, but also acknowledge that this is not permanent. Rather than beating yourself up and acting as your own worst enemy, allow yourself the opportunity to try a new approach instead. Countless studies have proven that Positive Thinking is the most simple and effective method when it comes to improving self-efficacy and self-confidence. There are a few different components that come into play when developing a positive mindset, and here is a rundown of each to give you the best head start on your journey to self-love.
1. Understanding Thought Awareness
Generally speaking, the way we view a situation stems from our perception of that situation. However, more often than not, that perception is actually far removed from reality. When we aren’t thinking rationally, it’s easy for us to jump to conclusions and judge ourselves harshly. Negative thinking not only damages your confidence and self-esteem, but can also significantly impact your interpersonal relationships and overall mental wellbeing.
Thought awareness is the process of observing your thoughts and acknowledging what you are feeling, thinking and experiencing within a particular moment. One way to increase your thought awareness is to gently observe what is running through your mind during a stressful situation. As tough as it may feel, do not suppress these thoughts. Let them run their course and accept them for what they are. You may find it helpful to write these thoughts down, too.
As you develop the habit of logging or noticing your thoughts for a reasonable period of time, you will quickly pick up on the patterns and triggers of your negative thinking. Allow yourself the time to analyse these observations to distinguish the most common and destructive thoughts that you struggle with. Make these your priority.
2. Developing Rational Thinking
Once you have identified the leading patterns and perpetrators of your negative thinking, it’s time to challenge them. Ask yourself whether these thoughts are reasonable, accurate and helpful. You will likely find that your answer is a big ol’ no, no, no.
Some people find it difficult to look at thoughts objectively, which is perfectly okay. If you struggle with this, imagine that your best friend or another loved one was coming to you with these negative thoughts. Imagine that you were giving advice to them as to how they may be able to overcome these thoughts and challenge this mindset.
When you learn to challenge negative thoughts in a rational manner, you will quickly see just how incorrect these thoughts are and how they generally have little to no substance to them. In the case that there is some substance behind these thoughts, take appropriate action, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself in the process. View this as a blessing in disguise as an early warning sign to take action towards living a healthier, happier life.
3. Practicing Positive Thinking
Now that you have taken those ever-important steps towards improving your mindset and challenging your negative thought patterns, it’s time to give yourself a break to practice a little bit of self-kindness. Yep, let’s talk about affirmations.
On the simplest level, affirmations are statements that are designed to create positive self-change. Affirmations help you to build self-confidence and allow you to view each opportunity in life as something that you can grow and learn from. Affirmations serve as both simple reminders and sustainable inspiration.
So, what exactly is an affirmation?
An affirmation is a strong, positive statement to remind ourselves that “all is well”, despite the negativity that may be roaming around in our minds. As we practice these affirmations and repeat those uplifting and positive statements, that inner voice of doom and gloom will soon be overrun by power, peace and confidence.
Affirmations are strongest when they are specific, expressed in the present tense using first person language, and have a strong and emotional meaning.
If you have been struggling with feelings of inadequacy, a positive affirmation might go along the lines of “I have all the relevant skills, experience and resources needed to achieve my goals. I am well-prepared and capable of achieving success.”
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with self-doubt, try telling yourself “I forgive myself for not being perfect because I am human. I learn from my mistakes and have confidence in myself to do what is best for me.”
As mentioned, affirmations are most effective when they are specific and tailor-made for each individual. Have fun with your ideas! Play around with your affirmations until you come up with something that feels just right for you, and remember that it is perfectly acceptable to be your biggest fan. After all, if we aren’t going to advocate for ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?
At the end of the day, the journey to self-love is just that - A journey.
There will always be more that we can improve on, more that we can learn and more kindness that we can show to both ourselves and others. Bearing that in mind, there is one thing that is more important than anything to remember, regardless of where you may be within your journey;
“No one is you, and that is your power.”
Embrace the beautiful skills that you have to offer this world. Speak up, reach out and remember that you are never alone. You’ve got this, girl.
PS – If you haven’t already, please feel free to join The Real Her Project Community Facebook group here. This space was designed for like-minded young women to connect, ask questions, make friends and support one another. You are more than welcome to use this group to your advantage to start creating the life of your dreams!
Cassie is The Real Her Project’s resident Counsellor and each month will be providing you all a personalised blog dedicated to you overcoming some deeper mindset struggles. Cassie is passionate about helping the next generation reach their potential and has all the skills to assist you in overcoming some of the tougher situations in life that hold us back from chasing our dreams.