During our quarterlife years, when many twenty and thirty something women are trying desperately to “make it” out there in the real world, self-confidence can be our biggest asset. It can give us the drive and motivation to carry on when times get tough, and help us present ourselves in a way that shows the world we’re ready and capable of making a difference. It’s ironic that during a time in our lives when self-confidence can help us more than ever, many twenty and thirty something women are dealing with just the opposite: a lack of self-confidence.
Negative thinking is our biggest obstacle to self-confidence. It has a snowball effect; once we start, our negative thoughts feed off each other and multiply quickly. When we think negatively we are easily thrown off track when something “bad” happens to us, or when someone says something that hurts our feelings. This happens because our thoughts immediately go to the worst parts of these experiences.
Negative thinking can start with something like, “I’ll never get into my top choice masters program,” and regress into something like, “I’ll never get into any program at all. How did I ever think I could do this? I’m a loser and everyone else my age is smarter and more successful than me. I made so many wrong choices that led me to where I am today. I’m so bad at making decisions. Jeez, I suck,” and on and on, downward and downward.
What’s worse is that we look for things to substantiate our negative, self-degrading thoughts. We cruise Facebook, checking out our old friends from high school. Once we see someone who has achieved aspects of the life we want, we say to ourselves, “See, look at me, I should have my Ph.D. by now. They made the right choices while I spent all that time being indecisive. I’ve been out of school for so long now that I’ll never be able to get a good score on the GRE, which means that I’ll never get accepted to the program I want.”
Then we turn off the computer and walk over to the TV. We turn it on and see a program where an expert in the field that we’re interested in is being interviewed. “They’re young, they’re pretty… and hey they’re kinda like me!” we think. “But by the time I could ever reach that level of success I’d be old and wrinkly. I’ll never be able to be as successful as them. I’ll never be so great at something that I could be interviewed on TV about it. I’m going to spend the rest of my life being a nanny.” We turn off the TV and continue on with our day, allowing our negative thoughts to ramble on and on. Our negative thoughts take every opportunity to put us down and we aren’t even aware of what’s happening!
Before we know it, our self-confidence is completely shot. We stop eating healthy food which only adds to how insecure we feel (because our diet affects how we feel emotionally and physically, right ladies?), we stop working out, and we don’t want to go out with our friends anymore because we don’t want anyone to see us in such a miserable state.
As you can see, our negative thinking feeds off itself and grows into a giant, ugly, confidence devouring monster if we don’t shake ourselves out of it and put on the breaks.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will go over some tools to help you put on those breaks and unearth the confidence you deserve.
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