When I was 7 we got a VHS recorder. My life was forever changed.
By 8 I was setting up a tripod solo (that camera weighed what felt like 50 lbs- it was a beast), and I was directing and co-starring in my own show Wake Up Australia. It was loosely based on Danny Tanner and Aunt Becky’s show Wake up San Francisco on Full House. Classic.
I won’t mention how I was really tall for my age and Em was a little guy so in re-watching the “films” she looks cute and I look like the awkward giant neighbor kid. (This was pre-VHS fame but even still, look at that size difference!)
The point is, we were fearless.
Then along came the lovely teenage years when all sorts of negative feelings I’d never even considered came at me like a tidal wave, tripping me up and turning me upside down.
And that was the end of that…
Suddenly I began to question what I had to say, if it were funny, how people would react. I’m not saying I couldn’t have benefited from a filter but it was more than that. I began questioning everything I had to say, often leading to me not saying anything at all. Or I’d edit my thoughts to an “acceptable” point; by then it wouldn’t sound anything like me.
Even with the encouragement from teachers and family, I held myself back.
The older I got and the more I recognized the judgment around me, the more uncomfortable I became and the more I second guessed myself.
The thing is, no one would have assumed this was happening. No one thinks an extrovert is prone to nervousness or a lack of confidence. But I assure you, it’s there.
Being an extrovert doesn’t exclude you from feeling nervous or uncomfortable. In fact, it’s even more frustrating because the expectation is that you’re skin is thick enough to give anything a try.
What it comes down to for many- extroverts and introverts alike- and definitely for myself is self doubt. An absolute bully.
What I’ve learned as I coach and mentor brilliant women is that we’re all bullied by self doubt. Even if you’re blessed with unshakeable confidence, that doubt is just under the surface.
When we give in to self doubt, it keeps us from being great. (Tweet this!)
So the question is, how long will you let the bully keep you down?
The more we give in to the bully the bigger it gets. Next thing we know we’re doubting everything we think, say and do. Often, it keeps us from making decisions that will benefit us in our jobs, the way we spend our time, what we put up with.
It keeps us from asking for what we want, making a decision that’s never been made, speaking up and owning our voice.
As I get older, that’s fortunately started to change. The ironic thing is that it takes me remembering who I was at 7 to feel more confident in myself as an adult. I loved that girl who didn’t care that her brothers were laughing at her or that she was leading a dance routine in the front yard during rush hour.
As kids we’re too busy figuring things out and having experiences in the moment to worry about anything else. It’s like having a PG version of a “Who gives an F?” mentality only not realizing it. Where we say what’s on our mind and haven’t thought further than that. When we’re young, we haven’t met our bully yet so we don’t know any differently.
It’s liberating and strangely calming to come back to that place before the bully showed up and started feeding me lines.
However, now I know it exists and I have to make a choice in how I let it effect me.
This takes some work. It takes recognizing the signs of the bully and choosing not to let them stop you short. It takes reminding yourself that you can either hold yourself back or let it go.
For me, it’s a work in progress.
The point of all this is that I believe, scratch that, I KNOW you have plenty to say too. Whatever it is, however you feel, whatever you need or the ideas that you have, they’re valid. They’re worthwhile.
And I say this next piece with love: it’s selfish of you to keep your thoughts, opinions and ideas to yourself. They’re not doing anyone any good floating around your mind all day.
You never know, you might say just the thing that turns a mood, sparks a dialogue or changes a situation for the better.
When we step into our own voice and own what we have to say, we can make an impact. (Tweet this!)
Of course this takes time and I’m not suggesting that the self doubt bully will vanish immediately. We can gain confidence by remembering the days when we were free to express ourselves, when we didn’t feel shame or embarrassment or doubt about our ideas (or dance routines).
If we can trust in our instinct and muffle the bully voice, we can make decisions that are right for us without worry of what others will think or how it’ll look. Imagine the possibilities!
It’s time to part ways with your bully because without your voice, your input and your unique perspective, the world is missing out.
What if just one time in the next week, when you heard that self doubt voice telling you to keep your thoughts to yourself, you took a deep breath, gave the bully a swirly for a change and said it anyway. Try it just one time and see how it feels.
Can you relate? How have you moved past the self doubt bully? Let us know in the comments below!
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