Exploring Confidence and Self-worth

Repeat after me: I am worthy of my dreams. I am worthy of respect. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of <fill in the blank.>

You are. We all are. As writer Max Ehrmann wrote in his 1927 poem Desiderata, "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." 

But feeling worthy, and by extension, experiencing confidence, is often difficult to muster, even for those who seemingly "have it all." Everyone, at some point or another, for one reason or another, has the perception of holding an empty cup that they don't feel they deserve to have filled. As an entrepreneur and a coach who often works around this issue of worthiness and confidence with clients, I find myself in a funny spot, thinking, what the heck do I really know? What am I doing here? Imposter syndrome! What makes it "funny" is that intellectually, I understand I'm qualified and capable, but psychologically and emotionally, it's not uncommon for the anxiety gremlin to rear its head and fill me with self-doubt. You aren't worthy of this professional adventure because...

Getting to the "why" of diminished self-worth and confidence isn't part of what I do as a coach (perhaps a great topic to explore with a therapist, though!). Instead, I work with clients to transform mindset and behavior by exploring the "what" and the "how." While the "why" may initially feel like an appealing path, it has little, if anything, to do with getting rid of your gremlin (think: knowledge vs. action). Examining the "what" and "how," and crafting behavioral responses based on your discoveries are the tools it takes to send your gremlin on vacation. A very, very long vacation.

So as those feelings of unworthiness and low confidence set in, which feed our thoughts which feed our concept of reality which feeds our emotions (and so the cycle goes), give the following steps a go and see what happens to that cup of yours!

  1. Acknowledge where you are. This includes your feelings. For example: I feel like everyone else knows more than I do about starting a business and I've been here for six months and I feel like nothing I do has the grand, sweeping effect that I want it to. I feel small and like a slacker. 
     

  2. Be there. Stick with your feelings. Notice what your body does when you step into these feelings. Where do you feel tension, pressure, pain, sickness? Allow yourself to fully experience the physical and emotional sensations of your feelings.
     

  3. Notice what happens when you give your feelings and experience space to exist with you. What does it feel like? What comes up for you?
     

  4. If you feel ready, ask some "how" and/or "what" questions to begin creating the roots of paths for action. Examples are:

    1. What do my feelings want?

    2. How can I give my feelings what they want?

    3. What is standing in my way of reaching my ideal scenario?

    4. How might I approach this situation if I were so-and-so (think of anyone, real or pretend, and step into those shoes for some inspiration)?

    5. What is possible?

    6. What are the opportunities and challenges?
       

  5. Continue to check in on your feelings and experience of self (body, mind, spirit) when you ask and answer the questions. Feelings of dissonance (e.g., tension, uneasiness, anxiety, etc.) may be a clue that our answers may not be in sync with our core values. Sometimes, we trick ourselves with answers that we think we should say, rather than what our heart or gut wants to say. (That's a whole other little gremlin to be discussed at a different time.)
     

  6. Create some action steps to try. Keep them manageable - bite-sized, even. 
     

  7. Test your action steps. Check in with your feelings. Be one heck of a detective, scanning your body, mind and spirit for clues. 
     

  8. Repeat this entire list until you get where you want to be with confidence and self-worth. Ask for help - professional or otherwise - as needed. You don't have to go at this alone. (Plus, it's helpful to have someone, like a coach, hold you accountable and be real with you.)

Repeat after me: I am worthy. And know that you are - you truly, truly are. You are a child of the universe, after all. 

With gratitude, 

Emily

Originally published in The Spark on 1/10/2018.