SELF EMPOWERMENT: HOW TO OVERCOME SELF DOUBT
Self empowerment is the topic of workshops I was giving to female managers in Delhi in India in Fortune 500 companies. In my work as a life coach I get to meet and work with many women who are crippled with self doubt, no matter how much much they have achieved (C-level managers, successful online business owners...), or how well educated they are, or how talented they are...
Self doubt, self criticism, perfectionism, low self worth... are truly killers of self esteem and confidence and they can even lead to having an imposter syndrome, feeling unworthy of good things in life.
In this post I will give some valuable self empowerment tips that can help you in overcoming self doubt and imposter syndrome and believing in yourself. When I was on vacation in Italy I have visited Paestum, a place with ruins of ancient Greek temples of Goddesses Athena and Hera. I was fascinated by Athene since childhood as she was the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, war, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skills. To me, she is the archetype of female courage and strength. She was a very powerful and brave Goddess. She had tremendous courage and she was highly skilled, wise, an intelligent. I will share self empowerment tips referring to this Goddess as I was inspired to write this post while walking on the ground of her temple in Paestum.
scroll down to read 5 self empowerment TIPS TO AWAKEN THE ATHENA IN YOU...
SELF EMPOWERMENT TIP #1: KNOW YOUR WORTH AND STRIVE TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOU!
Before I give any other self empowerment advice I would like to give you a short exercise: write down all the amazing things about yourself! All the small and little things that you have acomplished. All the rewards you have received. All the skills and talents you own. All the things you know very well or you've mastered so far... We can be so much crippled by self doubt and so much focused on where we want to be, our future, the goals we are striving for... that we often forget what we are bringing to the table and what all we have achieved in the past!
Once we look at all the things we know, we've mastered, achieved, we're good at... we can start looking at ourselves differently. With more respect. With more admiration. With more love. With more kindness and compassion.
Knowing our worth can help us to know what we are bringing to the table and to use that as our competitive advantage. Goddess Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war. She was never afraid of being challenged by other gods, goddesses, and mortals when it came to fighting, wisdom, and crafts. She knew she can outsmart anyone as she was aware how intelligent she was. She never lost a battle. She would either fight or outsmart the opponent to win or achieve anything she wanted. That was her core strength, her core genius. She was the Athena - goddess of wisdom and war and that was her greatest weapon! She was not trying to be and copy Aphrodite and to win over other gods by seducing them. She was not trying to be someone she is not. She knew her worth, her strengths, and she was using them as a weapon to win and conquer.
I love this quote by Bruce Lee, whose life and fighting philosophy I very much admire:
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
When we are crippled by self doubt and lack of self worth we can fall into a trap of pretending we are something that we're not in order to impress. We can try to "duplicate" other women whom we look up to. We can imitate. We can compare ourselves with other women (who are totally different than us, coming from a different background, who have different set of skills and talents, have had different life circumstances while growing up...) and feel less than.
Have in mind that if you are being truly yourself you will never have a competition as there is no another you! yes, there may be other women doing what you're doing, but none has your life experiences, your life lessons learned, your story to tell, your unique perspective of looking at things, your personality, your dna, your unique knowledge and set of skills!
Identify what's your core genius, and use that as your competitive advantage. Be yourself, express yourself and who you are. Get naked in shinging your uniqueness and show to the world how special, different, talented, smart, and amazing you are! Instead of trying to duplicate, copy, or compete with other women, coworkers, or business owners who are offering your services by being like them, forget them and work on yourself - your unique set of skills which can help you stand out from the crowd and win over anyone, just like goddess Athena used her core genius: fighting and wisdom!
SELF EMPOWERMENT TIP #2: EVEN ATHENE - THE GODDESS - WAS PRACTICING DAILY!
Athena was a Goddess of war and the myth says that she was born with the shield, helmet and fighting armour: but she was still practicing fighting since childhood! No matter what we do, and how talented we are, experience and mastering the craft comes with practice. Whatever you do, you have to KEEP on doing it, even if you are not yet at the master level, even if you are just a beginner, even if you're not doing it yet perfectly... without beating yourself up because you're still not at the place or level you want to be. You have to have the patience and give it the time and keep on practicing. Know that with the time you will get better, and better, and better. You will know more. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from those mistakes and you will grow wiser, smarter, better. Your skills will develop. But you have to start doing it, and once you do, keep on doing it. Practice will make it perfect - over the time. Practice will pay of and you will master it. But you can never master it if you skip the practicing part (which includes making mistakes, lousy moves while practicing, or being hurt and wounded while sparing).
When I started writing in English I was terrified as it is not my native language. I was not being able to express myself as well as I was in my native language and I was making a ton of spelling mistakes. But I knew that if I want to make my dream come true - to work as a life coach internationally via Skype, with coaching clients over the globe, I will have to work in English, and that meant writing in English as well. I started writing even though I was not writing nearly as good as I was in writing in my native language. But, I knew that only by writing consistently I could improve over time, so I started writing and I kept on writing, and my writing skills in English were improving over time. In just six months, my article in English was published by The Huffington Post! Do I still make spelling mistakes? Yes, I do. But, I am still practicing. Just like goddess Athena was practicing fighting skills.
YOU ARE ON THE JOUrNEY TO BE THE BEST YOU CAN POSSIBLE BE! YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD, YOU'RE A FIGHTER MASTERING YOUR FIGHT!
SELF EMPOWERMENT TIP #3: SAY "NO" TO THINGS YOU DO NOT WANT, NEED, OR SUPPORT!
One major part of my life coaching program via Skype is devoted to empowering my clients to say NO to things and people that are not good for them, they don't want, need, or support. My clients are usually very generous, skilled, successful, talented, wise women who love helping other people and they are capable of helping other people, but overextending themselves leaves them drained in the end as they are trying to "save" everyone around them. Many of my clients also end up being very deeply disappointed as they get taken advantage a lot by people that they care about because they have a good heart and cannot say NO to other people's request or needs. Now, as much helping others is a noble and good thing to do we have to realise that we are first and foremost responsible for our own happiness, health, and life path. We have to have our cup full in order to give to others.
If you are a person who is always available or being called for landing the money, vent sesh for your friends and colleagues, doing all kind of favours... but at the same time you find that those same people are not doing for you anything or little in return, they are never there when you need them, or they do not appreciate you enough, you have to look the truth into the eyes: you are being taken advantage of! My 1 on 1 life coaching clients thank me always at the end of the program for empowering them to say more NO-s as they find it to be a life changing practice which gives a lot of freedom and personal power back!
If you are taking care of others so much that you do not have the time for self care, exercise, or pursuing your own dreams... you have lost the balance!
Now, you have to realise that no matter how much you want to help and how noble is that you cannot possibly help to everyone! Even Mother Theresa could not save the entire humanity and she was helping 24/7. So,even if you decide to devote your life to helping people, renounce your earthly life, and go to the convent in India to help people all the time... you still cannot "save" everyone and anyone. You have to realise that you have the limited amount of time, money, and energy and just like with everyithing else you need to set your priorities straight.
Your major DUTY is to take good care of yourself as if you get broke, sick, and burn out you will not be able to help anyone: you will only end up being a burden on others!
Goddess Athena was know for helping many gods, goddesses, and heroes who went into battles or faced difficult or seemingly impossible tests, challenges, and tasks. But those were brave heroes ike Hercules or Odysey who were willing to fight their own battle, face the monsters, who were having the strength of character, who were ready to show up for the task... but they just needed little push and strategic help. Athena did not fight the battle for them! Athen just gave them a push, fighting tool, or advice. They were honourable warriors or gods who were showing respect to her, listening to her advice, and appreciating her help! But she was not helping to those who did not deserve it or who were not paying her respect!
In the comic Greek mythology epic "The Battle of Frogs and Mice", the frogs and mice were in the war battle. Zeus asked his daughter Athene to help the mice but she replied that she would do no such thing because when she was traveling, the mice ate holes in her fine robe and drank the oil from her lamp. She also said that she would not help the frogs because they had made such a racket that she could not sleep and gave her a headache!
Now, the Goddess Athena was very powerful and she could help mice to win the war easily! But she did not do that as she did not want to reward them for the bad behaviour! She wanted to teach them a lesson. If she helped them after they misbehaved with her (and she was the Goddess!) what kind of message she would give to them?! Even when her own father Zeus, who was the supreme lord of the gods, asked her to help the mice she still said NO!
Think for a moment are you rewarding people who are disrespectful to you by "helping" them? Goddess of Wisdom did not do that, even if she was known for being very compassionate, justice driven, and kind. But she was also firm when it comes to her self respect! Do your respect yourself enough? Do you love yourself enough? Are you confident enough to say NO?
SELF EMPOWERMENT TIP #4: YOU CAN BE KIND BUT FIRM (AT THE SAME TIME)!
Goddess Athena was know for her kindness, compassion, and how driven by justice she was. She has never lost a battle, she was firce, brave, strong, firm... but also very compassionate and kind at the same time. I have seen many of my life coaching clients on senior manager positions struggling to be kind and firm at the same time, when it comes to leadership. Either they are kind, "soft", feminine, compassionate, but at the same time perceived to be weak and not shown respect they deserve and people do not take them seriously, or they are strong, fierce, and "bossy" but deep within they are feeling guilty for being "rude" and not being able to show their true nature and be kind to others. They are afraid to lose their "cool" fearing they will be seen as weak and not taken seriously as a leader.
I believe Goddess Athena is the perfect example of strong feminine leadership. We can learn a lot from her! She was known for her kindness and compassion (the Goddess of was kind and compassionate!?!). It was being reflected in all of her actions and decisions. But at the same time, she was known to be just and everybody knew that if they do any harm to her, or disobeyed her orders they WOULD be punished without an exception!
She was not rude. She was not even entering into a fight or a battle until that was the last option. She was fighting in a strategic way, winning mostly by her wisdom and intelligence, making smart moves, without causing too much of blood shed. But, when her orders were disobeyed, when there was injustice done...she would act as a strong leader and she would give the just (but not cruel) punishment - to teach the lesson and to show by the example that she is the leader who is to be obeyed and respected.
I always teach in my self empowerment workshops and my 1 on 1 life and confidence coaching programs that even your own kids will not respect you if you are flaky and do not follow on your words and show by the example that you are respectable figure. If you told your kids that they will not be allowed to watch TV if they do not do your homework and you still allow them even if they did not do the homework, they will lose the respect for your words (a.k.a. threat) and they will not be listening to you, obeying your orders, or taking you seriously again in the future. Same way if any of your subordinates, juniors, students, assistants... have disobeyed your order or did something wrong it is your responsibility as a leader to sanction them to teach by example that wrong, disrespectful, and unjust behaviour is not acceptable!
In one of the myths it is told that when a man called Teiresias accidentally walked in upon the goddess Athena's room while she was bathing (an act that was punishable by death) Athena, not wishing his death instead covered his eyes with her hands blinding him and giving him the "inner sight" (gift of prophecy). He became one of the most revered oracles in ancient Greece.
The Greek goddess Athena is usually portrayed as fierce, brave, strong, fearless, with fighting skills only matching to her male counterpart God of War (Ares), but at the same time as one of the most benevolent goddesses who was strong, fair, and merciful at the same time! We women can learn from her to embrace all these masculine and feminine leadership qualities and achieve the very needed balance we are longing for.
If you make a threat - make sure you follow trough with it and if you made a promise keep your word! That is the way of building true respect and powerful leadership. You can be kind, show compassion, give the least painful punishment, like goddess athena... but do not get weak and walk over your commitments, words, promises, threats, and values. the key is in the balance of kindness and firmness.
SELF EMPOWERMENT TIP #5: GOOD STRATEGY CAN OUTWIN THE STRONGEST COMPETITION!
Goddess Athena was very brave and she never lost a battle, she was the goddess of war, but she would avoid the battle and declaring the war until it was truly necessary. She was a master (as Sun Tzu, the writer of "The Art Of War" and Bruce Lee would call it) the art of fighting without fighting. She would avoid blood shed by any means possible and try to resolve the conflict by her wisdom and intelligence. She was a good strategist and she was winning mostly by using her wisdom and having a good strategy. She was challenged and even attacked many times by different gods and goddesses and every time she would win, no matter how powerful the opponent was. She is known for never losing any battle. She was helping as well many gods, goddesses and mortals in fight by giving them a weapon or an advice that would help them outsmart the super strong and powerful opponent and win them over.
So often we get crippled by self doubt thinking that there are so many people out there doing the same thing, there is so much of a competition, there are people who we think are better than us offering he same services, fighting for the same clients or position...
What we can learn from goddess Athena is that there is no war we cannot win and no goal we cannot achieve if we have a good strategy - no matter how much we perceive other people to be stronger or better than us.
When I was just starting out with life coaching many people were saying to me that how I was a fool, I'd never going to make it, there were so many life coaches out there already... I did not have a lot of money to invest that time in fancy website, marketing, adds, branding... I was not English native speaker and with all that I was also coming from a post war country (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and living in a country (India) where people did not even know what a life coach is or could afford to pay the prices I was charging for life coaching, but I believed in myself and in the power of a good strategy.
In order for strategy to really work we need the powerful mindset as well, as they go hand by hand together. Goddess Athena never doubted herself even when she was challenged by the most powerful opponents. She knew how wise and intelligent she was and believed deep within that there is no one who can outsmart her! The heroes she was helping to were fierce and very brave: yes, she would give them the advice, shield, flying sandals, strategy to fight in a way to use their opponent's weaknesses... but they were brave enough to go out there and face the monster! They had rock solid self belief and confidence that they CAN win over the monster no one ever manage to kill before in history. The power of self belief is the crucial ingredient of any win and any success.
In last one year I have visited two destinations from my vision board: Himalaya mountains and Positano - Amalfi Coast, I was giving Emotional Intelligence workshops in Fortune 500 companies in Delhi in India, I started earning in one month the amount of money I used to earn in a year not so long ago, launched online courses (and by doing so created a passive income stream) … If I look back these 12 months I have also invested the biggest amount of money so far in coaching programs by coaches I admire in order to build the right mindset to strive and achieve bigger and greater things. I have done a lot of inner work and it was so worth it. BIG goals which seem “impossible” CAN be achieved and dreams DO come true. But not by chanting some affirmations five minutes a day, and not ONLY by talent or hard work alone.
Good strategy and internal work on limiting beliefs, self worth, mindset… matter a LOT. Once we do the work within we can see the changes reflecting in the outside - our life starts changing and ur dreams start unfolding in front of our eyes.
Let's recap self empowerment action steps to overcome self doubt and AWAKEN THE ATHENA IN YOU:
#1 - KNOW YOUR WORTH! YOU ARE SPECIAL AND ONE OF A KIND - REMIND YOURSELF CONSTANTLY OF THAT BY REFLECTING BACK ON ALL THE THINGS YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR. AT THE SAME TIME, WORK EVERY DAY TO BECOME THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF. LEARN, EVOLVE, TRHIVE, INVEST IN YOURSELF, YOUR SELF DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATION, AND COACHING PROGRAMS. BE HAPPY AND PROUD OF YOURSELF FOR HOW FAR YOU'VE COME SO FAR AND AT THE SAME TIME SET BIG, EXCITING GOALS FOR YOURSELF AND STRIVE FOR BIGGER AND GREATER ACHIEVEMENTS.
#2 - DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP BECAUSE YOU ARE (YET) NOT AT THE PLACE YOU WANT TO BE, OR GOOD AT SOMETHING AS MUCH AS YOU WOULD WANT TO BE AND FEEL LIKE A FREUD BECAUSE OF IT. KEEP ON PRACTICING UNTIL YOU REACH TO THE LEVEL YOU WANT TO BE (MASTER IT). WHILE PRACITING REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD, YOU'RE A FIGHTER, MASTERING YOUR CRAFT (" FIGHTING SKILLS").
#3 - SAY "NO"TO THIGNS YOU DO NOT WANT, NEED, OR SUPPORT. SAY "NO" TO PEOPLE WHO ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU. SAY "NO" TO HELPING PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT APPRECIATING YOU ENOUGH, OR THOSE WHO DON'T WANT TO GET UP OR THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO HELP THEM BUT WANT YOU TO FIGHT THEIR BATTLE INSTEAD OF THEM!
#4 - YOU CAN BE KIND, BUT FIRM LEADER, WOMAN, BOSS LADY, MOTHER...AT THE SAME TIME!
#5 - JUST LIKE THE BRAVE HEROES OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY HERCULES AND ODYSSEY, WE MAY NEED AT CHALLENGING TIMES IN OUR LIFE A MENTOR, LIFE COACH, ADVISER, SOMEONE TO HELP US WITH GOOD STRATEGY AND ADVICE (GODDESS ATHENA IN OUR LIFE) - TO GIVE US TOOLS TO SUCCEED AND CONQUER OUR BIGGEST GOALS AND DREAMS.
Self empowerment is all about us empowering ourselves: it is about picking ourselves up when we fall. It's about encouraging ourselves, working on becoming more powerful and strong internally by building the right mindset. It's about believing in ourselves that we can make the impossible possible.
Telling ourselves every ay that we CAN, we are amazing, and reflecting back on why is that so (achievements list). It's about celebrating who we are every single day, but at the same time working on becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be!