I sat across from his desk, sulking in the demeaning comment he’d just said to me. The only reason why you have gotten as far as you have in your career is because of your looks. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but it’s true.
No, not just devastated. Flat out broken wide open! The confidence I had mustered from the time I was twelve years old growing up in poverty where it was assumed that I wouldn’t amount to much vanished into thin air.
And to think I had walked into his office expecting to be promoted for the 80+ hours a week I was committing to work my a** off to prove my worth felt suddenly worthless.
Turning back the clock…
As a young mother (I was seventeen when I had my daughter), I’d gone to school for sixteen years at night (before online learning was even a thing) to earn not one, nor two, but three degrees, including an MBA so that I could compete in a career that was dominated by men. As a woman of color, with a history of poverty, domestic violence, and the first in my family to go to college, it was no easy feat.
I’d not only worked my hiney off to defy the odds but I’d go on to excel at one of the largest technology companies in the world, leading some of their most prominent initiatives.
So when Jim (we won’t say his last name) practically gutted my confidence, I walked out of his office debilitated, holding back the tears that threatened my resolve from the sexism that reinforced so many stereotypes that I’d tried my darndest to navigate.
My experience is one that many women face.
The demeaning comments, having to prove my worth, being subtly told that I am not good enough are just a few of the ice picks that chip away at my self-confidence. Then Fear, Worry, Doubt (those little demons that I fondly refer to as monsters) creep up, forcing you to question your own greatness.
The physical and emotional stress I underwent after walking out of Jim’s office still haunts me to this day. Not because I stayed stuck in that experience (oh, I was NOT going to let him rob me of all my power!).
The hard truth is that Jim’s misogynistic thinking reverberates throughout our society.
That’s why I want to share 10 practical tidbits on how to silence self-doubt and keep it from robbing you of your self-worth.
1. Stop allowing the judgment of others to define you
It took me some time to not allow someone else to determine my worth. In fact, I’d say I learned the hard way. People’s judgment will make you feel completely dejected. While your situation might be different from mine, anytime someone despite gender, race, class, or anything that fuels division insults you, you have to use it to strengthen your resolve and be resilient. Never let anyone take your power. To silence the echoing voice of self-doubt, you must be able to ignore what others think (of you) and ignite the voice of your own muse to push forward even harder.
2. Surround yourself with positive-minded people
I have always had an inner circle of mentors, accountability buddies, and influencers I admire that gives me the positive reinforcements that propel me towards success. I wouldn’t have probably succeeded in my career if I hadn’t surrounded myself with positive-minded people. The reassurance you also get from self-love and LOTs of positive minds feed such as reading inspirational books, watching empowering videos, TED Talks, attending seminars or summits, or listening to podcasts makes all the difference. (Sign up for a FREE strategy session with me to help you accomplish your goals FAST. Go here to sign up now: https://bootcamp.lymarlow.com/)
3. Don’t let fear fuel self-doubt
Fear is a natural part of life. But the moment fear fuels self-doubt, it prevents you from attaining your goals or dreams, and ultimately, the impact you can make in the world. However, the most effective way to stop fear in its tracks is to get clear on your “why.” Your why is the fuel behind your goal or dream, irrespective of the hurdles you face. It help you to defy rejection and ignore the naysayers? By tapping into your “why,” you will be able to muster the courage to push forward, despite any internal or external barriers.
4. Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap
It is an indubitable fact that we’re in a world where we look up to others, either out of sheer covetousness or to know where we are lagging behind. Most times, the people whom you ‘covet’ do not talk about their real stories. They only give you the edited reel of their life, trying to paint a “not entirely true” picture. To disarm self-doubt, don’t even go there. Meaning, instead of self-comparison, try self-appreciation and just do you!
5. Speak words of encouragement and positive self-talk
Let me get right to the point: negative thoughts will fuel self-doubt, confining you to a wall of stagnancy and retrogression. Even amidst setbacks, you should always speak words of encouragement to yourself. Remind yourself how feasible the goal or journey ahead is for you. Positive self-talk activates the action button that draws you closer to your goals. Almost everyone has a fair share of one setback or another. One popular maxim I hold on to is this: failure gives you a chance to try something different. Just roll with it.
6. Be open to learning from your experiences
Here’s an unorthodox idea. What if you were to turn every doubt into a debate on how you can use your experiences as an opportunity for growth or improvement? Remember when you were probably scared to make a presentation and ended up a success? Run through your reel of experiences to identify moments where you had an initial uncertainty that led to achievement. Reflecting on such experiences is a positive way to remind yourself of your successes.
7. See every negative situation as temporary
When you experience a challenging situation, setback, or unwanted shift in your life, your level of self-confidence dwindles and you begin to doubt your choices, your decisions, and even yourself. Thoughts of what you’ll have to endure or cope with propel you into a state of delirium. You feel trapped, stuck, giving up on your dreams, and even yourself. But know this: life happens! Situations, setbacks, and shifts are a normal part of life. Don’t allow it to cast shadows over your resolve to rise above it. You are resilient!
8. Disconnect from distractions
If there’s one thing you take away from this message, it’s this: take a break and unplug from your online lifestyle – email, social and digital media, mobile phone, and even your laptop and focus on what’s most important in the offline world! Even though we’re living in a digital age where we often feel like we can’t survive without technology, know that there’s something even more important that we absolutely can not live without the time we need to refresh and rejuvenate our overall health, wellness, and sanity.
9. Take some time for yourself
When was the last time you took some time for yourself to revitalize your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health? I’ll take your pause as a sign that it’s been a minute. Say no more! Here’s what you need to do. Get a journal, a piece of paper, hell, even a napkin will do, and write down three things you love and miss doing and go do them. Don’t overthink it. Just do it! (thanks Nike!). If nothing more, it will give you the time you need to clear your head and breathe.
10. Be gentle to yourself
One thing that I do every week takes what I call a sabbatical day on Wednesdays. Boy, I can’t tell you how refreshing and cleansing it is to unplug in the middle of the week and do nothing. By nothing, I mean, anything having to do with me thinking 🙂 If self-doubt is creating stress in your life, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, take the bold step of giving yourself permission to take a sabbatical day so that you can use it to do some positive mind-feed and rejuvenate. Trust me when I say it will be a life-changing, self-confidence-boosting experience.
Being reminded that we are in a patriarchal society, I draw inspiration from knowing that I have a choice: either I could allow patriarchal people and attitudes (like Jim) to set the course for my life and infuse me with self-doubt or I could be my own compass.
I choose to navigate my own path.
It has proven to be my greatest asset that has led me to be the woman I am today and as a bonus, I get to do nada thinking on Wednesdays : )
I think I’m ahead of the game, wouldn’t you say?