This month we are honoured to have the wonderful Claire Brown guest blogging for us. Claire is a professional coach who is a specialist in supporting women through times of transition. Many times Claire and I have had conversations about confidence - how to find confidence from within ourselves, and also what role our clothes can play in helping us feel more confident. We asked Claire to share with us some of her tips on how to feel more confident and authentic.
Here she shares her story:
I’m a married mum of two young children, in my thirties, most often seen wearing some form of denim! I’m also a qualified Life Coach passionate about supporting women through times of transition, challenge and stretch; helping them to find healthier, happier, more balanced ways of living and working. Life shouldn't be about constant striving, hustle and grind, it should be about more joy-filled, fun, life-giving moments! Being kinder to ourselves and doing the things that we find deeply fulfilling.
As a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser, I’ve spent years filling the gaps in both my personal and professional life, doing jobs that needed to be done, but not necessarily because it was me-shaped or fulfilling in the way I had hoped. I am deeply passionate about helping others, but I placed too much of my sense of self-worth and confidence in my ability to get things done rather than just being authentically me.This turned into developing unhealthy patterns of behaviour resulting in sustained stress and overwhelm.
Back in the Spring of 2015, I was pregnant with our youngest, holding down a very full part-time role and not knowing how, in the coming months, I would be able to go on maternity leave. I was working for a small charity fulfilling a role that was “ambiguous” at best during a season that involved a huge amount of change. At that time, I was so emotionally connected to the job that the very thought of leaving would require someone to physically wrench it from my hands. Although I really did not want to leave, I really needed to. I was totally burnt out, exhausted, overwhelmed trying to balance home and work life whilst heavily pregnant and leaving to have a baby gave me the permission I should have offered myself months before to hit the pause button.
I knew I needed some extra help to navigate all of this complexity, someone objective, trustworthy, skilled, deeply kind, supportive and who really “got me”. Along came Joanne. We initially met when she came to deliver some team building workshops and soon after she became my coach.
My first session involved me talking in great detail for an entire hour without pausing for breath. Mortifying, yet pretty impressive for an introvert! By the end of our sessions, I had formulated a clear plan of action that encouraged me to let go, take a break, and focus on me and my growing family for a while.
Coaching enabled me to gain greater clarity and perspective, and helped me to start living according to my values in a more authentic way. It also allowed me to better manage the stress and overwhelm I was experiencing, helped me to create a calmer mindset and supported me in thinking around the situation to come up with practical strategies and solutions.
Something about this process really clicked for me. It brought together beautifully in one role so much of my learning, experience and passion and was the catalyst that led me to train and become a qualified Coach myself. Finding something that I’m truly passionate about, that feels “me-shaped” and that also fits around my commitments I’m convinced has made me a better Mum. Many of the Coaching techniques I’ve learned along the way I apply to my own life and they make such a difference in both the big life decisions as well as in the day-to-day.
I really believe in the value of Coaching and have spent the past year intentionally working on my goals. Some of the things I’ve achieved in that time include receiving a Distinction in my Coaching Diploma, setting up my own business, losing more weight and committing to a regular exercise programme. Coaching has also grown my confidence hugely. I’m consistently doing things outside of my comfort zone that I previously felt intimidated by such as Networking, Public Speaking, Vlogging and Writing articles like this!
These past few weeks, I've been having some great conversations with my clients where we've been talking all things confidence; having the confidence to be clear about your values & priorities, having the confidence to step out of your comfort zone to take action when it feels scary, having the confidence to be your most authentic and vulnerable self. I wanted to share a few of my tips with you on how to further develop your confidence, which I hope you find helpful:
1. Know what confidence looks like for you & when and where you experience feeling at your most and least confident.
What does confidence mean to you? - This quote sums it up for me, "Confidence is having the power to be yourself".
What situations cause you to feel lacking in self-confidence?
In what areas of your life, would you like to feel more confident?
When do you experience feeling your most confident?
Who/what helps you to feel most enabled to be yourself?
2. Acknowledge the negative thoughts or limiting beliefs that hold you back and start to work on replacing or re-framing them.
What story are you telling about yourself?
What's the internal dialogue or noise inside your head saying?
What language do you use when you describe your skills, abilities, characteristics or traits?
What story would you like to be telling? What are the beliefs you would like to hold about yourself? How might your close friends or family describe you to others?
3. Stop the compare and despair game
Constantly comparing yourself to others and identifying the ways that you feel you fall short doesn't bring joy. It breeds negativity, self-criticism and diminishes your sense of self-confidence.
Stop focusing on who you aren't and start embracing who you are.
We are so well practised at identifying the many ways we could do or be more. What if today, you shifted your focus towards more positive thoughts?
What are your greatest strengths? What makes you uniquely you? What do you like most about yourself? What's in your gift?
4. Practise kindness and celebrate your successes
Choose to think of yourself in more positive terms. Practice gratitude and kindness. Celebrate your successes.
If you were to compare the way you speak of yourself to the way you would speak to a close friend or family member, what might this teach you? Are you critical or kind to yourself?
To what extent do you acknowledge your successes or wins?
It's really easy to recognise when things haven't gone well and what we should or could have done differently, but what about when you did something really well? How could this bring you encouragement and inform a healthier, more balanced perspective?
5. Take consistent action
When you step from your comfort zone into stretch and do things you're scared of that you previously thought weren't possible, this is hugely empowering.
When my daughter attempts the monkey bars at the park and she gets so far and falls numerous times, you'd forgive her for giving up. (Especially when it results in blisters and fractures!) But the delight on her face and sense of achievement when she finally reaches the other side makes it all worth it.
Consider where the line between your comfort zone and stretch zone is. Get really specific about an area of your life in which you would like to see a shift. Identify consistent steps you could take to move yourself forward.
In what area(s) of your life do you need to grow your confidence? Where do you feel you are being held back?
What could you do to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you'd like to be? What could you today to move one step closer? What might look like progress for you?
Do you find yourself navigating a challenging situation, managing a transition or considering a change? Perhaps you’re wondering about returning to work or wanting to find a better balance that enables you to be a better version of yourself? If so, I would be delighted to work with you. Whether you are entirely new to coaching or more familiar, my personalised 121 coaching will equip you with the tools you need in order to feel more resourced and empowered, to help you gain greater confidence, clarity, calm, connection, and ultimately to leave frantic behind.
If any of this sounds like you, I’d love to chat. Book in for a Completely FREE 30 Minute No-Obligation Consultation: https://www.clairebrown.co/schedule-appointment-1or follow me on my Facebook page where you can view an introductory video to find out more about me and the services I offer: facebook.com/clairebrown.co
Claire Brown, Life Coach & Wellbeing Consultant at Claire Brown Coaching & Consulting