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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.

My best friend Emily and I not only had what I’m sure were dead-on Australian accents but we also had guests, commercials and fullme&em wardrobe changes. This was serious business.

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.

design (11)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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  • Larsies September 10, 2014, 4:58 pm

    Oh, man I would pay a pretty penny to catch some Wake Up, Australia!
    It would pair nicely with my “Like a Prayer” video in my front yard in my ‘kini and keds.
    Man- that fearlessness is so awesomeness.
    Let’s find those girls.
    Great article!
    xoxo

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:20 pm

      O.M.Gee! I would love nothing more than to see this video..the outfit alone is the tops.

      Those girls would definitely be friends together…obviously!

      xoxo

      Reply
  • Stacey September 10, 2014, 5:10 pm

    Oh yes, Anne, I can very much relate! I call the “bully” my “gremlins”…the demons that haunt me from my past that make me question if I’m good enough, smart enough…just ENOUGH…but I love your take on thinking about the fearlessness that comes along with living like a child! This is a great reminder for me today – thank you!!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:19 pm

      Your gremlins- I love that…not the gremlin itself but the phrase :) Thank you as always for your support! x

      Reply
  • Lily September 10, 2014, 5:10 pm

    This post is great because you acknowledge that our biggest bullies often come from within. I think recognizing that without judgement and accepting that it’s a normal response to new and different things makes it easier to move past those negative thoughts and just GO!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:18 pm

      You’re right, Lily. While I don’t wish bullies on anyone, it is comforting to know we’re not alone in that doubt. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks so much for your support!

      Reply
  • liane September 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

    Wow. Just sitting, quietly “remembering the days when we were free to express ourselves…”. What a great exercise! The contrast with how we can feel when self doubt creeps in is huge – and when you can see the contrast, it helps to make the shift. I will be using this often!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:17 pm

      Thanks so much Liane!

      Reply
  • Sabrina Bolin September 10, 2014, 11:06 pm

    Oh Anne, I LOVE this story!

    I know the bully in my brain all too well, but like most bullies, he’s overly sensitive and really is just a big loof who needs a hug.

    So what I do (and what I encourage my clients to do) is to take just a moment to recognize and honor him or her (I admit, my ego voice/bully is a she!), defuse the “charge,” then thank him/her for showing me another beautiful area of my life where I can grow!

    Thank you for sharing your journey today, and for sparking this conversation!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:16 pm

      Haha- I love this, Sabrina! You’re right, she just needs a hug :)

      I love your advice as well. I’ll be sure to try it myself.

      Reply
  • Leanne Chesser September 11, 2014, 12:16 am

    Oh, I so totally agree!! I’ve thought about kids a lot, just like you mentioned. When I watch my grand kids play, they know who they are. They know what they want. And there’s nothing in the way of it. They’re purely who they are. They know they rock. It’s so awesome. It’s a good strategy to look to kids, or back to yourself as a kid (unless you had a really difficult childhood) in order to get your confidence and self worth back.

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:15 pm

      Thanks Leanne. I know what you mean- they don’t yet know the meaning of shame. It’s so pure it’s lovely!

      Reply
  • Mike Goncalves September 11, 2014, 3:49 am

    Excellent post Anne. I know that bully very well. I’ve confronted my bully many times in the past and I’m confident saying I’ve won the battle. I’ve won by taking action despite what the bully may have said. I love what you said in your post…. “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.” That’s powerful and so very true. Thanks for an awesome post Anne. You’re awesome…. cheers!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:14 pm

      The theme here is definitely: take action. You’re motivating me to remember to do the same. Thanks so much Mike!

      Reply
  • Lisa Van Ahn September 11, 2014, 5:53 am

    SO true. What changes from the age of 5 to the age of 11 is that awareness of what others around you are thinking about you and your actions. It continues into adulthood and unless we become willing to set aside the anxiety of other people’s judgement we can’t truly live as our genuine self.

    This lovely post resonated so much with me. When I was in middle school I was fighting off bullies outside myself but as an adult I fight off my own inner bully EVERY DAY. She tells me I can’t, I’m a mistake, I’m unworthy, and if I try I’ll most definitely fail.

    My best weapon against her is always ‘living my spirit’ and that’s my inner child who always knew I could become anything I wanted to be and do great things in the world. And every morning I must choose to listen to her first.

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:13 pm

      This response gave me chills. I’m so happy we’ve connected on this topic- thanks for being honest and vulnerable and reminding me that I’m not the only one dealing with this bully. x

      Reply
  • Debashish September 11, 2014, 3:47 pm

    Great post, Anne. I absolutely loved the personal story that you’ve woven into the post. And I actually smiled when I read this, It’s like having a PG version of “Who gives an F”.

    I used to get constantly pushed around by the bully, without even realizing that there is another way to live! What helped me deal with the bully was when the cracks started to show in the so-called successful life I was living. Once I decided to take conscious action, inspite of self doubt, I felt it’s power shrinking.

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 11, 2014, 8:07 pm

      Thanks so much Deb! Make conscious action…love it.

      Reply
  • April September 14, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Fantastic post as always Anne! I can absolutely relate, and you’re so right, that inner critic is really just such a bully! I am going to take your advice this week, because I too am a work in progress, and let my voice be heard!! Thanks for the great post!!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 15, 2014, 8:26 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment April!

      Reply
  • Silvia September 15, 2014, 3:17 am

    I recently went on a spiritual retreat and there was a young woman guest speaker there who embodied that 7 year old fearless self. She said the darndest things without a lick of self-consciousness and complete presence. It was so powerful regardless of the content of what she said. Profound or nonsense. It didn’t matter! Truly amazing to see.

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 15, 2014, 8:26 pm

      That sounds amazing- I’m inspired and I don’t even know who she is!

      Reply
  • sam morrisey September 15, 2014, 6:41 am

    Anne this is a wonderful post. It really resonates with me. I blogged about the ‘fear of being seen’ not long ago and this feels like a deeper look in to ‘why’ that occurs. It is so true we hit our teenage years and we question everything we have to contribute to the world. Only now, at 33, am I taking my voice back and being FEARLESS. Thanks for an inspiring post.

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 15, 2014, 8:25 pm

      I’d love to read your post, Sam. It sounds like we’re on the same page. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  • Beth September 16, 2014, 4:54 pm

    I could have written this post, minus Good Morning Australia (I did do the dance routines though). Like you, I censored my true self for a while but it’s coming back with age. My oldest son is 8 and he still lacks self-consciousness … I will be so sad when he starts to care what others think!

    Reply
    • Anne Omland September 17, 2014, 9:24 pm

      The dance routines! We would’ve been great friends :) It’s nice to be around those that still have that innocent outlook- maybe it’s contagious?!

      Reply
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