Your career and your role as a parent have lots in common. Both are important to you, you want to be successful at both, and they each cause plenty of stress and anxiety. And unfortunately, that often causes self-doubt.
There’s something about adding a human being to the mix that’s needy (yet pushes you away) while trying to juggle a career (that, if you’re being honest is like another child to you) that causes guilt, doubt, and worry. And that’s new territory – that you’d rather not be in.
Here are 3 steps to becoming more self-confident as a working mom or dad while letting go of the guilt, self-doubt, and worry:
Table of Contents
First Step to Becoming More Self-Confident: Keep Promises You Make to Yourself
Most high-achievers have trouble breaking promises… to everyone except themselves. This is especially the case for high-achieving parents. They don’t want to let their kids, colleagues, or clients down (so they regularly let themselves down). The problem with this is that it creates self-doubt.
There’s no bigger killer of self-confidence than not being able to trust yourself. And when you don’t keep the promises you make to yourself, you won’t trust yourself or your decisions.
Here’s the thing: every time you break a promise to yourself, you’re telling yourself that you’re not important. And you’re also setting yourself up for an internal narrative that reduces your self-confidence.
What Happens When You Break Promises to Yourself
If you’re like most people, breaking promises to yourself goes something like this:
- You start by making excuses;
- You have a nagging feeling that you’ve once again let yourself down;
- You push these feelings aside and promise yourself that it won’t happen again;
- Sometime later you’re reminded of your original promise to yourself, triggering a narrative within your subconscious about how flaky and unreliable you are; and
- Deep down you’ve created an internal belief that you’re unworthy and unimportant.
This process repeats itself again and again until you do something to stop it. And the only way to stop it is to begin keeping those promises you’ve made to yourself. Once you get good at telling yourself that you’re not worthy, it’s a difficult pattern to stop.
Your thoughts create neural pathways within the brain. The more you tell yourself something, the more you’ll believe it (regardless of evidence that says otherwise). That’s why it’s so hard to change negative thought patterns – and why breaking the promises you make to yourself are so harmful.
What Happens When You Keep the Promises You Make to Yourself
Whenever you keep your promises (especially to yourself), how do you feel?
By keeping your own promises, you establish a success cycle. Not only do you feel good about yourself, but it enhances your self-confidence levels and makes you feel like you can do even more. That’s because you’ve told yourself that you’re valuable – you’re worthy of keeping that promise.
The simple act of keeping your own promises to yourself builds internal credibility. You’re building self-respect, which enhances self-confidence.
[Recommended Reading: Do you feel like you can’t achieve success in your career without sacrificing at least some of your personal life? Do you fear that creating balance will require you to settle in your career? Read How to Achieve Work Life Balance (When You Don’t Want to Settle & It Feels Impossible)]
Second Step to Becoming More Self-Confident: Take Care of Yourself
Stress and anxiety are confidence killers. They create and exacerbate negative thoughts, self-doubt, and worry. Proper self-care is necessary to reduce and prevent stress and anxiety, which means that it’s a necessary component to being self-confident too.
Your Confidence on Stress
In the early days of my legal career, I didn’t have a lot of time for myself and my self-care habits suffered. I ate sporadically, didn’t exercise, didn’t get much sleep, and had very little time with family or friends.
Not only did my stress levels greatly increase as a result, but my self-confidence plummeted. Although self-care isn’t often discussed in respect of confidence levels, it’s no surprise that my self-confidence levels took a hit.
When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to feel good about yourself. This makes you more likely to question yourself and your decisions.
And it’s even worse when you’re a parent. After all, your kids are watching you and will learn how to treat themselves based on what they see you do. Yet you’re not exactly modeling good behavior by not taking care of yourself. Worse yet: you’re on edge, irritable and snap at your kids often. It’s difficult not to when you feel so depleted.
All of this leads to guilt and a hit to your self-confidence levels (both as a person and as a parent).
How Self-Care Increases Self-Confidence
When I finally got to the breaking point and started mandating time for self-care, I didn’t just feel better physically. I also felt more mentally and emotionally secure and self-confident.
Self-care isn’t limited to the physical. It’s also about being emotionally and spiritually well. And that feeds directly into your self-confidence levels. Moreover, as a parent you’ll feel good about modeling healthy behaviors to your kids.
Besides, think about how you feel about yourself when you’ve been eating well and working out. The words that come to my mind are fierce and unstoppable.
If feeling fierce and unstoppable isn’t a confidence-booster, than I don’t know what is.
[Recommended Reading: Feel guilty about taking time for self-care? Read 5 Reasons You Feel Guilty About Taking Care of Yourself (and What to Do About It).]
Third Step to Becoming More Self-Confident: Take Control of Your Life
Taking control of your life means doing two things:
- Letting go of the things you can’t control; and
- Taking control of your mentality.
The Art of Letting Go
From a (mostly) reformed control freak to another: I understand how hard it is to let go.
But the simple fact is: you can’t control much of what happens in life. The world is an uncertain place and the things that you’re trying to control aren’t controllable. Things such as:
- What other people think about you and your choices;
- How others behave; and
- Your circumstances.
When you try to control these uncontrollables, you’re inserting yourself into a never-ending circular pattern that results in frustration, stress, and anxiety. As discussed above, that’s not a recipe for self-confidence (it’s the opposite).
The truth is, you don’t need to control these things. Because having control over your life isn’t the same thing as having control over what others think, do, or even your circumstances.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Controlling your life is about feeling at peace with who you are and the decisions you’re making for yourself. And that’s done through your mindset.” quote=”Controlling your life is about feeling at peace with who you are and the decisions you’re making for yourself. And that’s done through your mindset.”]
Take Control by Developing the Right Mindset
There’s one thing that you (and only you) can control: your mentality. Mindset is about how you perceive yourself, the world around you, and your natural way of responding to unexpected circumstances.
Remember that your thoughts create pathways in the brain. I know that I said above that it’s difficult to turn negative thoughts around. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
You can re-train your mind to be more positive, mentally strong, and growth-oriented by consistently utilizing exercises designed to:
- increase your self-esteem and self-confidence levels;
- increase gratitude; and
- be more responsive (as opposed to reactive).
Taking control of your life in this way will drastically increase your self-confidence levels while decreasing both guilt and overwhelm.
For how to effectively re-train your mind for resilience and growth, review Strategies #1 and #4 in my article on How to Relax Without Guilt (Even if You’re an Overachiever).
How to Take Your Next Steps to Becoming More Self-Confident
You may be thinking that all of this sounds great, but…. How on earth do you get started?
Here are some tips on how to start keeping your own promises, prioritize self-care, and take control of your mentality.
Tips for Keeping Your Promises
When you’ve had trouble keeping promises you’ve made to yourself in the past, it can be difficult to get started. Here are 4 tips to help you out:
- Start Small + Be Realistic. Don’t make pie-in-the-sky promises (to yourself or anyone). Be realistic and start with something that’s relatively easy. As you start keeping small promises, you’ll be able to go bigger.
- Be Specific. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re promising by being specific about it. Overly vague promises are like overly vague goals (they’re built for failure).
- Plan. Think about what’s entailed when making the promise to yourself, what might get in your way, and plan for it.
- Celebrate. When you’ve fulfilled your promise, take time to celebrate the fact that you fulfilled your promise. This will help counteract the negative thoughts you previously had about yourself and create new positive pathways (that will eventually take over).
How to Start Prioritizing Self-Care
When it comes to self-care, you’re already busy in your career and at home. So, how on earth do you find the time for it?
First, self-care doesn’t have to be very time-consuming or complicated (it’s a myth to think you need long + complicated self-care routines). Self-care is really about learning to be more purposeful in your habits.
Second, you must create time for self-care. Although it need not take a ton of time, it does require some of your time. But please note that taking good care of yourself will:
- Increase your energy levels;
- Increase your ability to focus; and
- Make you more productive.
These three things will help you reclaim more time for whatever you want.
Get started with something small and build from there. I recommend starting by:
- Putting together a morning ritual designed to help you get energized and focused for the day. This can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes.
- Creating a nighttime routine that helps you relax so that you’ll sleep well at night.
- Taking short breaks throughout the day (these will increase your effectiveness and productivity levels).
To help you get started with simple, guilt-free self-care download the Essential Self-Care Toolkit. It will help you (1) assess where you are (and need most help), (2) identify what self-care habits work best for you, and (3) put together the perfect morning and evening routines. Download it here:
How to Take Control
Taking control is a mindset issue. It’s time to start working on your mentality so that you can stop worrying about what others might think, no longer fear failure, and get over comparing yourself to others.
To get started, set aside 10 minutes per day for quiet reflection (and consider using a journal). It’s difficult to take control if you’re not clear about what you want or how to get it and your busy lifestyle doesn’t give you enough time to be clear on this. Setting aside time for quiet reflection will create some mental space to think that will help lead to clarity.
For more help on how to shift your mindset (and why it’s so important) so that you can feel in control read:
- How to Be More Self-Confident at Work By Changing Your Mindset; and
- 5 Strategies for Reducing Stress and Anxiety at Work.
It’s time to get started. Follow these steps to becoming more self-confident and watch your self-confidence levels grow (both at home and in your career). And there’s an added bonus: they’ll make you a more relaxed and better parent too!
Until next time…
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your copy of the Essential Self-Care Toolkit so that you can start keeping your promises to your self immediately (and give yourself the self-respect you deserve).