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How to feel confident when you're told you are not good enough (#88)

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Carol Stewart
November 10, 2023
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For Women’s Month, we wanted to share this blog for women everywhere who may have feared (as we have) that we are not good enough.

“I am really confident at work and am an expert in my field but outside of work I am the total opposite. What can I do about it?”

woman at conerence writing in a notebook on her lap

I once got asked this question on one of my webinars from a woman who is a technical expert and very confident in her job, but outside of work it was a different story.

I see this often with the leaders that I coach. They are very confident in one area of their lives but lack confidence in others. This could be due to childhood experiences where they were constantly told they would not amount to anything and made to feel like they were not good enough. Or they never received the unconditional love and affection that helps to nurture a child into a well-grounded individual. It could also be as a result of adult experiences (such as unhealthy relationships or narcissistic bosses) in which they are constantly put down.

In the case of introverted women, it is often the case that because of the unfavorable bias towards introversion, they have had a negative label placed on them and developed self-limiting beliefs about themselves.

The woman who asked the question at my webinar had spent years with a partner who continually put her down, so much so that it had affected her self-belief. Another client had been continually put down by her mother when she was a child and constantly told she would never amount to anything good.

In rebellion, she ended up having a highly successful career at a very senior level, but despite this, constantly doubted herself and her abilities. This negatively impacted her self-belief. At the age of 52, when her job was made redundant, this became more of an issue for her because it impacted her ability to make the transition to something else.

Are you confident at work but lack confidence in your personal life, or confident in your personal life but lack confidence at work because you had been made to feel that you were no good? With the right support, you can overcome this, and I will show you some ways to do this.

Highlight the things that you are good at

young woman searching for a book in a library

I asked the woman on my webinar how she became an expert at her job. She told me she went to university, studied hard, and honed her skill. But she told me, there is not a university of life.

We learn from our lived experiences. But if those experiences are not nurturing, caring, or supportive, the lessons that we learn may not empower us to be the best we can be.

When you’re the only ‘one’ in the room, because of your difference, it can be easy to look at others and put yourself down in the process. And in the process of doing so, forget about all the skills, talent, and experience that demonstrate that you have earned your seat at the table.

I asked the woman on the webinar mentioned above what she was good at outside of work. At first, she hesitated and couldn’t think of anything. Then after reflecting mentioned two significant things that involved people having confidence in her and her abilities, as well as her taking the lead. This helped her realize she is actually more confident than what she thought.

ACTION: For one month, at the end of each day, list three things that you did well that day, no matter how big or how small they were. This will help you to shift from focusing on your limitations to focusing on the things that you are good at.

Choose how you react

If someone uses words that put you down, remember, they are only words. You CAN choose how you react to them. Learn to recognize the emotions that are evoked as they arise, and deal with them there and then.

lady journaling on her lap

You are more likely to notice the physiological symptoms before you notice the thought behind the emotions. When you notice the physiological symptoms, pause and examine your thoughts about yourself and the situation. Challenge your thoughts and change them to something rational and more helpful.

ACTION: Try carrying a small notebook with you to catch your thoughts and change them to more helpful thoughts when someone puts you down, or makes you feel like you’re not good enough, or when you yourself do this to yourself. The more you do this, the easier it will be for you to manage your emotional response in these situations.

Put things into perspective

We often blow things out of proportion by focusing on the negative. I remember when I delivered my first webinar nine years ago, I received very positive feedback from everyone except one person. But I focused on this one individual’s feedback and could feel the physiological impact it was having on me. I felt my stress levels rise and almost convinced myself that it was a rubbish webinar and that I wasn’t going to do another one.

I quickly realized what was going on and refocused my attention to all the other positive feedback I had received and felt so much better. Thankfully I didn’t listen to my initial thoughts because I have since done hundreds of webinars to thousands of women across the globe.

We often focus on the negative things going on in our lives, magnifying them and blowing them out of proportion. Put your situation into perspective and look at your situation in a more rational way. Rather than over focusing on the things that you are not good at, think of all the things that you do well.

The person who continually puts you down may have had issues and insecurities of their own. It could be that putting you down gave them a feeling of being in control. You don’t have to let them rule your life in this way. Let go and move on. Free your mind to focus on developing and growing to become the best version of you.

ACTION: When someone puts you down or you are made to feel like you’re not good enough, remember ALL the things you are good at, and put their comments into perspective.

Do you compare yourself to others and put yourself down in the process? If so, it is easily done, particularly when you are different from the dominant group. However, you are unique, with your own skills, strengths, and abilities and bring all of that to the table. Find out more about what I have to say on the topic in the latest episode of the Quietly Visible podcast.

If you are an introverted woman and a leader and want to share how you've overcome the challenges and obstacles in your career and life, to help encourage other introverted women (as well as raise your visibility and profile), I would love to have you as a guest on the podcast. Or if you are not introverted, or not a woman and have something to share that will empower, educate, or inform introverted women leaders, or advise employers on how to be more inclusive towards introversion, I would love to have you on the podcast too. Fill out the application here and someone will get back to you.


Published on LinkedIn Nov 12, 2021, How to Feel Confident When You’ve Been Made to Feel Like You are Not Good Enough, for Introverted Women Leaders. Reprinted with permission. Headers added by Leading Consciously

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Carol Stewart MSc, FInstLM

Executive, Career, and Leadership Coach

I am an Executive, Career, and Leadership Coach specializing in introverted women who are senior leaders. I've been the featured expert in Women and Home Magazine, Good Housekeeping Magazine, the Telegraph, on BBC Radio 5 Live, named a LinkedIn Top Voice UK 4 years running, and received awards for my work developing women leaders.

Through my work I have helped thousands of women across the globe to increase their confidence, influence, and impact as leaders, and overcome imposter syndrome, increase their executive presence, improve speaking performance in meetings, get a promotion, and much more.

My vision is that ALL women achieve their full potential and become influencers of positive change in their respective fields.

Connect with Carol:

Website: aboundingsolutions.com


The views and opinions expressed in this or other blog posts at www.leadingconsciously.com are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Leading Consciously. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Do you see yourself as confident? Introverted? Both? How does this play out at work?
  2. Do you deal with imposter syndrome? List some of your self-talk to overcome it.

Leading Consciously concepts and skills
covered in this blog post:

  • Consciously test negative assumptions (test negative assumptions)
  • Adopt a growth mindset (consciously use self)
  • Acknowledge small wins (initiate change)

#ConfidentWomen #SelfConfidence #SmallWins #ImposterSyndrome #Affirmation

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Leading Consciously

We are a leadership development firm that helps people and organizations create resilient, sustainable, multicultural, and inclusive settings. The ability to lead consciously can help you gain true awareness and earn the respect and trust of others.  

It’s the assumptions we have about people’s lives that are the biggest obstacles to growth, awareness, and success. We help you understand how those assumptions are preventing you from becoming the best you can be as an organization, an inclusive leader, and a person.

Let’s start a conversation. Email us at jeanLC@leadingconsciously.com