Hello SOTGC community,
Many of you may not know this, but I teach Muay Thai kickboxing to women at a local gym. It’s a passion of mine, and I’ve started to train more seriously. Part of my training was video recorded, and as I reviewed it, I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a forgiving angle. I look so much leaner than I am.” When I pointed that out to my little sister, she looked at me like I was crazy.
“What do you mean? That’s what you actually look like,” she replied. I was floored. And then I was disappointed in myself. It’s a universal struggle for women – not truly seeing yourself as you are. It even has a name: body dysmorphia. We feel bigger or wider or heavier than we actually are. It takes seeing ourselves through someone else’s eyes to get a true sense of self.
That got me thinking how this dysmorphic perspective transcends the body and infects the way we feel about ourselves when it comes to our careers and success. The danger here is that we consistently second guess ourselves. We believe we are imposters or frauds. We fear we don’t really belong. We convince ourselves that we shouldn’t be in charge and worry that eventually we will be found out. Here’s how to counteract this defeatist thinking.
- First, listen closely to those little voices inside of ourselves that keep us playing small and out of the spotlight. Do you actively avoid taking on a leadership role for fear that you’re not a true leader? Do you resist suggesting new initiatives or projects for fear others will criticize or reject your ideas? Do you procrastinate making cold calls to land new business because you don’t feel self-assured enough to put yourself out there to strangers? Write down your fears – no need to do anything them with yet. Just list them all.
- Then turn to your trusted friends and colleagues, the people who lift you up, who believe in you, and who have your back when times turn tough. Ask them what they see in you that you don’t see in yourself. You may be surprised at what you hear. They may say your work ethic is unmatched; your attention to detail is impressive. They may point out your ease in interacting and networking.
- Now ask them the ways they feel you self-sabotage or play small. Again, get ready for some surprising answers. Resist the urge to defend yourself. Just listen with an open heart and write it all down.
- Ok, now it’s time to look at your list of fears and the list of ways your loved ones say you hold yourself back from true success. Acknowledge them, then LET THEM GO. They no longer serve you. They existed to hold you back. That’s no longer acceptable.
- Finally, look at the list of qualities your loved ones admire in you. These are the ones you will turn to when you’re feeling anxious or fearful. Keep them in your wallet or print them out and tape them to your desk. Remind yourself that these qualities represent the TRUE YOU, the wonderful, smart, courageous, professional woman you are.
The key here is to replace the old fear-based voices with the ones that are actually based in reality. This is how you build a strong personal brand that capitalizes on your strengths and kicks self-defeating nonsense out of your head. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to get others to believe in you. And it’s easy to believe in yourself when you know the stories you tell yourself are true.
Build a brand you can believe in; start by believing in yourself.
Let us know how this post helped you via Twitter – just remember to tag @AlvearDiana and @SOTCG to keep the conversation going! As always, I welcome your questions at dianaalvear.com.