Halfway through January, I’m looking at my diary, silently appraising how I’m doing.
More specifically, what’s happening with my New Year resolutions.
I won’t tell you what the verdict is, but the mere fact that I’m using the word “verdict” goes to show my biggest problem. Probably yours too.
Self-doubt. Criticism. Lack of confidence.
When those voices kick in, eager to pass judgement, the tendency is to notice what doesn’t work, as opposed to what does, dismiss any and all progress made because “it’s just not good enough!” or “plain useless, why even bother?”, before finally deciding: “I can’t do this”.
Lack of belief in our own ability stops us in our tracks.
It’s true, a measure of self-criticism can be very helpful, ensuring that we do not become complacent, striving to grow and develop ourselves instead.
A lot of people, however, especially women, succumb to excessive self-deprecation and defeatist self-talk, and stop short of fulfilling their potential and achieving the level of success they truly deserve.
Practically every woman, including some of the most accomplished women worldwide, admits to feeling insecure, suffering from “impostor syndrome” and her inner critic’s harsh put-downs.
Sheryl Sandberg, technology executive, activist and author, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, one of Fortune magazine’s most Most Powerful Women in Business, and founder of LeanIn.org, a non-profit organization dedicated “to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals”, is one of these women. She shares:
“Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up…This phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt has a name — the impostor syndrome. Both men and women are susceptible to the impostor syndrome, but women tend to experience it more intensely and be more limited by it.” (Lean In, March 2013, cited in 25 Famous Women on Impostor Syndrome and Self-Doubt)
I think it’s safe to say, you’re not alone.
In Playing Big: A practical guide for brilliant women like you, Tara Mohr writes at length about the inequalities and oversights that stop women from thriving. She shows how women have internalized the long-drawn, systematic suppression of the feminine, so that they suffer all the more from an overzealous inner critic and often severe lack of confidence.
Busy putting themselves down, women won’t value their own worth, won’t speak up, won’t seize opportunities, nor create their own.
How to deal with the inner critic?
Activate the inner mentor, the Wise Woman, the part of you that knows what nourishes your soul, and brings you joy and fulfilment.
The inner critic won’t go away, but when we recognize it as just one aspect of our thinking and are not wholly consumed by its negativity, we can get creative.
It’s wise to look at our deepest fears compassionately, so that we may find our way to more self-love and acceptance. Our sense of inner peace grows, and with it our capacity for clear thinking, sound judgement and decisive action.
Put yourself first.
You’ll likely discover you are much more productive and successful at your chosen endeavour, when you start off with self-love and self-care.
Instead of working hard to push through, no matter what, make a priority of maintaining your physical and emotional well-being.
Consider how best to resource yourself, so that you can enhance your level of well-being.
What do you crave, body and soul? More connection with nature? More beauty in your space? More play at work? Even the tiniest, incremental shifts in this direction can add up to a magnificent transformation, so you can really start feeling like the Goddess you truly are.
Your best resource? Sisterhood.
It’s important for everyone — but especially women — to receive affirmation, praise and encouragement.
Supportive circles can offer practical help, and also aid us in building more confidence and self-esteem. They provide a space where we may access our own, untapped inner resources. As women, we can rest in our deep inner knowing, courage, creativity and joy, and start to trust ourselves more.
We empower ourselves to speak up, follow our heart, carve our own, unique way in the world.
Every time a woman finds her voice, makes a breakthrough, shows up more fully, is a giant step towards a universal change.
We’re shaping a world where men and women, masculine and feminine, co-exist and co-create in more balanced and respectful ways. We’re building environments with less bias, more opportunities, greater diversity and synergy. It’s a peaceful (r)evolution — and it starts with You.
Back to those New Year resolutions:
- are you listening to the inner critic or your inner wisdom?
- have you put yourself first?
- are you resourcing yourself? Nourishing your soul?
You don’t have to do it alone.
Join the community, be part of the School of Soul Alchemy. Together, we create a new world.