Honest MumYou 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 actually reminded of my own triggers and fears recently when I took part in the Own Your Fears campaign with AXA PPP Healthcare  and found the experience to be a real eye-opener to be honest.

mum boss

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.

mummy blogger

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!

Compliments jar

Alexander writes a positive message for his mum child holds a note which says 'Mummy is perfect'. Child holds a compliments note which reads 'Mummy is an amazing blogger'

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!

child writes a note for his mummy

Check out my hair!

Honest Mum and son

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

She advises:

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:

https://jamesclear.com/identity-based-habits

https://www.samuelthomasdavies.com/identity-based-habits/

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?

Vicki Psarias

This is a sponsored campaign but all views are honest, as always.

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11 Responses

  1. your DIY family

    Love the idea of a compliments jar – what a great idea. Might have to diy one and share with my audience. We can all do with reminders of how awesome we are and how much we do especially on those down days. Love the tips – saving this as I want to come back to it every time I’m feeling down on myself. xx

    Reply
  2. John Adams

    What great tips from Becky. I’m also loving the jar idea. It’s also awesome to see you saying that confidence oscillates. it does, be it as a parent or as a blogger I find mine can come and go and I had mine hit pretty hard recently following an incident I have no wish to repeat. Great campaign by Axa PPP. I often tell my kids there’s nothing wrong with fear and an absence of it is over-confidence. Address those fears, that’s the best thing you can do.

    Reply
  3. Juliet McGrattan

    This post is packed with useful tips and advice. Talking it all out with a life coach must have helped so much. We are our own biggest obstacle! Using the fear as a positive force is a great take home message – thank you.
    Juliet McGrattan recently posted…Game Changers in GermanyMy Profile

    Reply
  4. Lizzie Roles

    Read this post at the right time as have been limiting myself and what I want to achieve especially with my blog. After suffering PND and serious self doubt issues and due to having learning difficulties too, it can be hard to be kind to myself when everyone else seems so far ahead in the same amount of time. The reminder that how we talk to ourselves is crucial, because it effects our mental health so it’s fundamental to exercise, practice gratitude and realise how freaking awesome we are as mums. The juggle and struggle is real and self care, as much as we want to practice it, sometimes just does end up at the bottom of the list because of time constraints. Jon pushed for me to go to Pilates last night after I complained of feeling too tired to go, I came home refreshed and had such a great nights sleep last night. I have my new Fitbit charge on too and we’re walking to school today! Time to get the good habits back on track xx
    Lizzie Roles recently posted…A bespoke blog header design by local Somerset talent ‘Love Lettered by Bekki’ + a FREE printableMy Profile

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  5. Notmyyearoff

    Really interesting post and I think I would love a session with a life coach to point out some of my triggers and what I need to work on. The jar of compliments and good qualities is such a good idea. Isn’t it SO easy to forget our good points? I wonder if this is why a lot of us can’t take a compliment very well?
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Enjoying the Turkish sunshineMy Profile

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  6. Emma Kirby

    I love this Vicki and your honesty. We all have periods of uncertainty and sharing our fears helps us all feel less alone. I’m going to download those apps Becky suggests and will be looking at AXX Healthcare too. Thank you x

    Reply
  7. Katie Baxter

    Self-doubt can be crippling. I love the idea of the Compliments Jar and will be trying it with my kids-I hope they write nice things about me!

    Reply
  8. Alex | mokuska

    Really good to see a healthcare company focusing on mental health, confidence and self-actualisation. Some really valuable tips here!

    Reply
  9. Mandy

    Great post Vicki. PMT is a really tough time for me and it’s taken me years (literally) to realise how much it affects me. Love the idea of the compliments jar and Xander is doing so well with his writing!

    Reply
  10. Katrina Bruni

    What a wonderful idea! I am so going to create a jar for all of us. I think it’ll be really good for the girls to get little messages too (despite me telling them every waking minute how much I love them and how amazing they are). Such a great idea. Some amazing tips in there too. I love headspace and I do the same yoga sessions although, recently, the girls and I have been LOVING Cosmic Kids Yoga which is AMAZING! I will download that Daylio app – sounds awesome. I also love to meditate, I meditate daily – total game changer. I will bookmark this post in my faves so I can come back to it – super advice. Thank you for sharing this Vicki. xxx
    Katrina Bruni recently posted…Healing from Postnatal Depression Through The Power of Self-CareMy Profile

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