You might assume that I’m some kin d of super-confident kick-ass, mumboss every single day of the week and while, yes, thanks to the empowering combination of practising confidence and consistently pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I DO feel confident most of the time, I’m still human and self-doubt and mum-guilt regularly creep in, as they do with all of us.
Heck, even Queen Bey must have her bad days right?!
I was given access to health coach Becky for an hour’s coaching session where I candidly discussed and duly processed my fears, with self-doubt and mum-guilt predominantly revealing themselves during triggering periods such as PMT, times of over-tiredness and recently post-surgery after a big thyroid operation.
Luckily, Becky reminded me of some of my own advice which I share in my book Mumboss along with lots of new tips and tricks which have taught me how to deal with my fears as they arise, as well as showing me how I can use fear to motivate myself rather than let it debilitate me.
Vitally, I was reminded that fear can be positive, that I can harness fear as a force for good as worries clearly show me what I want from life.
Fear affects us all, it protects us and directs us, but on reflection, pinning down fears can help remind us of our goals and ambitions.
Our worries can inform us of what we consciously and unconsciously seek.
Worried about failure? You clearly want to succeed in doing what you love.
Scared a friendship might end? You love your friend.
Concerned what other people think of you? You value your own worth and want others to see and accept you for who you are.
I personally know that one of my biggest fears is the fear of failure and the second on the worry list is that I won’t be liked or understood by others: both are ABSOLUTELY NORMAL concerns and very common too- and which in my case, reflect past painful experiences including being shunned by so-called friends as an 11 year old which took me years to overcome. I’ve learnt over the years, these concerns mustn’t be given too much energy and certainly shouldn’t paralyse or prevent me from doing what I love and pursuing new challenges.
So how do I initially combat the fears as they arise and repeatedly too.
First-up, it’s crucial I acknowledge how universal those fears of mine are so I can fully accept them, and in doing so, am able to naturalise them so they feel less threatening. Once I’m at that point, I can then channel the fear into positive energy to motivate me rather than hinder me.
Even Olympians feel fear before a race and it’s that very fear which drives them forwards. They’re understandably scared because they’re about to embark on something which matters hugely to them.
They want to thrive and shine.
See how necessary fear is? Yes it can protect us but it can also be a catalyst to achieving greatness.
AXA PPP healthcare agrees and are spreading the word that fears are good – that they help us grow and become stronger…Something I’ve learnt tenfold since having a thyroid operation recently, and particularly after my own crippling fear of surgery too…Yet, I overcame the op both mentally and physically and feel all the stronger for it.
These tough times truly test us and show us strength we didn’t know we had.
Another area of fear is failing as a parent, the worry I’m not a good enough/ patient mum. Can you relate?
So how to fix this self-doubt and re-educate those negative voices when they play out?
Becky advised that I should ask my kids, husband and friends to inform me of all of my positive qualities, which I would then write onto small pieces of paper and include in a Compliments Jar.
She advised not to do this activity during a trigger time i.e. PMT week though for two reasons, firstly so I could approach the task with a positive mindset and secondly, so that I could use the jar the next time I suffered from PMT or at any difficult time, opening the notes within the jar and reminding myself of my strengths.
Now, I often ask my children what their favourite qualities are in my husband and I, and what they enjoy doing most with us so this task was right up my street.
The kids wrote lots of messages (which surprised me), with Alexander, 5, scribbling ‘Mum is fun’ and Oliver, 8, sharing, ‘I love it when we bake with Mummy’, two messages which have already picked me up today when I felt low, and will continue to help assuage mum-guilt when I feel I’m failing as a parent.
Confidence oscillates like waves here. I know many fellow parents feel the same because parenting can be as thankless as it is magical and we could all benefit from a boost on the tougher days.
It’s funny though because the times I often deem as failures (a picnic on the carpet rather than a big meal because Mummy’s tired) are always the kids’ favourite memories. We parents frequently immerse ourselves in guilt for no real reason, and must pledge to be kinder to ourselves today and every day.
This special jar is helping me do just that.
It sits on my dressing table (we used glittery card and a ribbon to make it pretty) and it brings me joy and reassurance whenever I read its contents back. The most moving of messages include, ‘Mummy is perfect’ and ‘Mummy is an amazing blogger’ by Xander-all his own words, I just wrote the sentences down for him. What a cutie!
Xander even had a go at writing a few lines himself, and he also kindly drew a picture of an imaginary cat he’d like me to buy and a portrait of me where I looked like a character from Fraggle Rock!
Check out my hair!
It was such a fun but also useful activity and something I’d like to create for the kids too, with messages from Daddy and I to them to help give them a boost when they need it.
Becky also advised I download apps Daylio which re-frames your negative thoughts and the Stress and Anxiety Companion too. I also find Headspace useful and rely on yoga which I try and do daily, even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time, even from my desk if I’m stuck for time, to help relax both the body and mind.
Google ‘Yoga with Adrienne’ for my favourite videos.
Here are some more brilliant tips from Becky to help turn my fear into confidence I know that you’ll find useful:
- Recognise your achievements and how others see you, as well noting down what you do for others. Write a list of your achievements as a visual reminder to reflect back on whenever you feel down. Some of these achievements can be reviewing your own written work on your blog, or writing a list of things you do for your kids day-to-day from the school-run to homework, bath-time and beyond. Congratulate yourself more! Looking at the list will help ease the mum-guilt too and will remind you of all that you do for your kids. Don’t forget yourself either and taking time out for you.
- Reflect on key decisions that have improved your life from amending your work schedule to working with new people and projects, or distancing yourself from those who don’t make you happy.
- Remind yourself of your triggers be it PMT, something that might have happened which upsets you on or offline, a lack of sleep, an issue you’re ruminating over and work out ways to help yourself. Do you need a break from work, a walk to clear your head, a chat with a friend etc.
Becky also set me some goals I’ve found hugely beneficial over the last few weeks.
- Become proactive about mental health, putting self-care to the forefront as often as possible, taking guilt-free time out when you need it to benefit all.
- Review your sleep pattern. Sleep with your FitBit on and reflect on the quality and duration of sleep, and work to improve it. Go to bed earlier, use sleep apps and become strict about no screen time before bed for a more restful sleep.
- Do more yoga around PMT time. Be kinder to yourself around that time too and don’t expect the same productivity levels then, as the rest of the month. Listen to your body and make healthy food choices. Get honest about you are actually eating especially around low mood days.
- Look at the positivity/compliments jar on your bad days. Take in the words written there and believe what others think about you. The more you remind yourself of your good qualities, the happier and more confident you will feel on the days self-doubt consumes you.
- Write a list on the things which make you happy and tap into those when you need them be it a jog in the park to dancing around your living room with your kids or baking a vegan cake.
- Stop over-committing to everyone and practise saying ‘no’ more and feeling comfortable with that.
Becky also touched on identity based habits.
These are all about creating behaviours that reflect our identity and self-belief by proving we can do something. We have to believe in new things about ourselves in order to change a behaviour for good.
1. Decide what type of person you want to be – for example – write a list of ‘I am’s. Eg – I am a Mum, I am a writer, I am a loyal friend and then a list of who you would like to be? Eg. I would like to do more TV Presenting..
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins – don’t forget to keep track of these to look back on too. Eg. – you were worried about the operation but did it regardless. You worry about your image on TV as the camera adds 10 pounds but it doesn’t stop you – this is a reflection of your identity. You don’t give up. It is all about building the habits now and the results will come later!
Here are some useful links Becky also suggested for further reading:
Such useful advice, some I preach myself to others but often struggle with myself and other things such as the Compliments Jar concept I would never have thought of, that has made a huge difference to my mood, and life.
I’ve been reminded to look after myself more thanks to this task and to look to those I love to remind me of my strengths, particularly at the times I beat myself up most. Relearning and reminding myself of my qualities can help combat the self-doubt and guilt when it arises. It’s time to practise what I preach.
Thank you Becky and AXA PPA Healthcare for the poignant reminder and crucial support.
It’s time to live my best life right now.
Who’s with me?
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