A recent study conducted by VitalSmarts found that women who are assertive are seen as less competent than men, as much as 35 percent less competent. It’s something that will lower self-esteem and create doubts. Many of them turn that doubt inward by questioning everything they do and every choice they make at home and work.
Chances are they beat themselves up for nothing, and, ultimately, things like body language and mood reflect that inner discord. How can powerful women stop this self doubt?
Be strategic in how you approach the decision-making process. It’s a quality all successful leaders should have whether they are men or women. Instead of questioning your decisions, consider how you make them. Learn how to command the narrative of every situation, so colleagues and family are part of making logical choices.
It starts with clear communication. A good leader reminds others of her expectations for them. It helps them stay on point and make decisions that are in line with her own.
If you feel self doubt about a decision, start evaluating the situation using a list of thoughtful questions:
Analyzing your decision builds confidence and puts the focus back where it belongs.
Sometimes the self doubt has to do with personal performance. Maybe you felt you didn’t come off well in a meeting or a report didn’t have the desired effect. Again, just blindly blaming yourself doesn’t solve problems. Look at your performance and find ways to make small changes that improve it. It is the little things that count most like:
If you start every sentence with “I was hoping” or “I just thought,” you come off as less confident. Crossing your arms during a meeting makes you look defensive. Write down some of the things that make you feel like you didn’t do your best and find ways to improve upon them.
You can stop looking for perfection now. It’s not going to happen. Instead, appreciate those little imperfections that help define you. After all, they got you this far, right?
The perfection mindset is a sure path to failure. If you think you have all the answers, you will be apologizing when it turns out that you don’t have them every time. If you go into every situation with the understanding that perfection is out of your reach, the successes will be much sweeter.
It’s already been established that you are not perfect, so be accountable to others if you do make a mistake. If you walk away from a blunder without owning it, it becomes the elephant in your head. Talk it out whether it is with your family or at work. You’ll garner more respect if you can recognize your mistakes openly.
Turning an apology that you owe someone else inward isn’t going to make you feel good about yourself. If you feel bad when you walked away from someone at home or work that deserved a heartfelt apology, then go back and give it to them.
Make this your motto both in your personal and professional life. Learn to practice what you preach because “by example” is the only way to lead. It’s guaranteed the people around you will be watching to make sure you do, so be consistent.
Procrastination triggers guilt and guilt leads to regret. Don’t be that person. Learn to tackle tasks head-on and show others what proficiency looks like. The minute your mind says, “Do it later,” answer it back with “Go ahead and do it now.”
Instead of picking apart every problem at home, each missed opportunity at work or that one office snafu, find something positive to say about yourself:
Thank yourself for working so hard and meeting your professional goals.
The problem with self doubt is that it tends to get stuck on a loop in your head. Start a journal and write your feelings down. Journaling is about reflection and expanding self-awareness, so you don’t have to ruminate over everything endlessly.
When creating a journal entry, focus on:
There are other benefits to journaling, too, like:
There are even studies that indicate journaling improves the I.Q.
You are already a strong woman. Now, turn some of that power inward and learn to stop that self doubt. When you do have doubts about your role at home or in the office, talk it out with yourself instead of letting insecurities take over.