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by Mandy Plumb

Self-confidence…bringing your brave

 

  • What stops us from being the person we want to be and having the impact we desire?
  • What stops us from living the life we want, having that difficult conversation, getting on top of a problem, changing career or saying yes to change?
  • What is it that so often holds us back and stops us moving forward?

I’m frequently asked questions such as ‘How do I improve my self-confidence’, ‘How can I cope with difficult situations and drive myself forward?’ Well, the truth of the matter is, it takes hard work and all our inner strength to let go of the fear, bring our brave and be more courageous.

Stepping out of our comfort zone is something we can all relate to – I too have to work hard at it.  I know that if I’m to achieve the vision I have for myself and for my future, then I have to take a deep breath and push myself forward.

Is it rational fear or our own inner saboteur? It’s that voice which questions what we are doing and is often the reason we put off taking the next step, pushing it to the bottom of our list of things to do, instead of making a decision.

What’s the worst thing that can happen, right?  ‘Well,’ says that voice, ‘I could fail and people would know I’ve failed and then there’s the shame that follows….’ It’s all too overwhelming, so it’s best I just don’t do it. Ah, ok, I feel better now, not so panicked, I’ll think about it tomorrow and then decide what to do.

When this happens we may feel a little calmer, but the reality is, at what point does tomorrow actually come? If we don’t take a leap of faith and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can never take the risks needed to move forward towards our goals. We all have a choice to stay stuck and keep dreaming, or believe in ourselves and go towards the vision.

We all have the ability to find our inner resourcefulness to make change and push ourselves forward.  As a Co-Active coach, my belief is that we are all naturally creative, resourceful and whole, capable of finding answers and recovering when things don’t go to plan.

The inner saboteur will almost certainly always be present, and the reality is that when we take risks, sometimes things can go wrong.  Instead of giving in to the saboteur’s seductive voice, we need to find ways to recognise when it is present; pull on our inner strength to reduce its level and impact and take steps to move past it.

I’m all too familiar with the effect the saboteur can have and how paralysing it can be, but by working with a coach and understanding when your own saboteur is showing up, you will be able to master the tools needed to learn how to live in spite of it.

It’s not that we aren’t capable of taking risks and it’s not about whether, if things don’t go to plan, we can’t recover. It’s about taming your saboteur – believing in yourself, opening the door to vulnerability and taking that next brave step forward – towards your goals and fulfilment.

Tips on taming your saboteur

Acknowledge your saboteur – explore it, spend some time with it and really get to know it.

Visualise what it looks like – you may even decide to give it a name.  Does it remind you of someone or something? Mine is called The Shadow – it can stand over me and threaten to totally overwhelm me at times; but recognising it and its presence means that I am able to take steps to move past it and not allow the fear to take hold.

Notice when it presents itself. What’s triggering it and when does it speak loudest? Often it will come into the foreground when you are about to make a decision, take a risk or do something new and unfamiliar.

What does this inner critic say most of the time? Its arguments and opinions can sound completely logical and rational – what are its favourite sayings? Write these down and become familiar with them. You’ll be able to recognise its patterns.  Understanding when it is present and what it typically says can reduce the impact it has and shift the power back to you.

Have compassion – be kind to yourself, it takes a lot of hard work to tame this inner critic.  Also, understand that the saboteur can come from a place of wanting to protect you – albeit in a strange and distorted way.  It wants to hold you in your comfort zone so you don’t take risks and won’t get hurt.

The good news is that even though this inner critic’s voice is likely to always be around, with practice you can learn how to tame its impact and influence, making it less dominant in your mind.  If we feed our fear, then we allow it to take over and control us, but understanding the impact it can have, whilst living life with purpose and honouring our own values, means we are able to quieten the voice and move towards achieving the impact we desire.

“If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there ‘doing it’ despite the fear, then we must conclude that Fear is not the problem.” – Susan Jeffers (Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway)

Life has risks and it is constantly changing.  As life changes so do we – are the risks so high that we are prepared to stand still and do nothing?  When you bring your brave, you make things happen.

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