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How to dump the emotional baggage that’s undercutting your confidence

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Clutter isn’t just a build-up of household items yet to find their rightful place. Nor does is belong solely to the unorganised among us.

Unsurprisingly, there are all manners of emotional and mental clutter too, which can cloud our thoughts and, unfortunately, work against us when it comes to the crunch.

The doubts that set in when you consider putting yourself forward for a promotion or pay rise, for example. The niggling concern that we’re not quite measuring up when taking stock of our lives thus far.

It can all be traced back to the emotional baggage we’ve picked up along the way. But as with most intangibles, emotional clutter, the kind that can undermine your confidence no matter how much power posing you do, can be the trickiest to purge.

“We often think we know ourselves, but rarely do we take time to explore what really makes us tick,” notes Jodie Rogers, an empowerment coach and facilitator. “What we stand for, why we feel so strongly about certain situations, the impact we really have on the people in our lives – no-one really teaches us this kind of awareness. We need to learn how to disentangle the thoughts in our head.”

With that in mind, we’ve sought out the best advice from both Rogers and Marisa Peer, a therapist, motivational speaker and author of Ultimate Confidence: The Secrets To Feeling Good Every Day, to help you clear out the baggage that may be holding you back.


Marisa Peer

A therapist and behavioural expert as well as a motivational speaker, Marisa Peer knows more than a thing or two about what can cause a crisis of confidence.

Here, she breaks down the inner demons and behavioural patterns that may be playing against you, and how to shake them off.

1. Don't compare yourself to others

Everyone is unique. Comparing yourself to other people is guaranteed to make you feel inferior. We all have a unique skill set and you need to put your energy into focusing on what you are good at, rather than what other people are good at.

Being a jack of all trades and a master of none doesn't work. The quicker you can recognise and develop your own skill set, the quicker the people you work for and with will recognise it too.

2. Don't try to be perfect

People who try to be perfect are the unhappiest people in the world. They have entered a race that has no finishing line. You're not meant to be perfect. Trying to be perfect is exhausting and disappointing, because it is a full-time job.

3. Change the negative chatter in your head

Your brain only responds to two things: the pictures in your head and the words you say to yourself. Though your mind will let everything in, it can become quite easy to change the negative words and pictures, to help yourself function better and feel better. For instance, change 'I am terrified' to 'I am excited'; swap 'I am going to mess this up' for 'I can do this'; 'I never know what to say' becomes 'The things I say make sense and people are interested'.

Songs can be great for changing the pictures in your head, too. Lines such as 'I’m so excited', 'This girl is on fire', 'I’m having the time of my life' and 'I am titanium' are powerful because the mind can't easily hold conflicting beliefs, and so once you fill it up with positive lyrics there’s less room for negative suggestions.

4. Don't let in destructive criticism

If one thing will change your life and boost your confidence super fast it is this. You can't stop people saying negative things if they are having a bad day, but you can stop yourself absorbing it. Simply by saying 'I am choosing not to let that in' allows you to recognise that even if someone is having a bad day, that does not have to affect you.

5. Don't be defeated by rejection

To have better confidence, try to see rejection as nothing more than a delay. Popstars One Direction for example, were told they wouldn't make it when they came third in X Factor, but as we’ve all seen, that wasn’t the case.

Some of the most successful people in life have suffered huge rejection, and their willingness to see this as temporary, and to bounce back, has propelled them on to success. Chef Delia Smith was told she would never succeed at anything, Damien Hirst got an E at A-Level Art and was told he wouldn't make it. Rejection will often propel you forwards. It could be the best thing that ever happens to you if it makes you determined to keep going.

6. Praise yourself

Nothing boosts your self-esteem like self-praise. Searching for the praise of others can make us needy, but becoming a master of self-praise boosts our self-esteem because your mind absorbs it.

Praise yourself every single day, tell yourself all the things you are good at, and become skilled at switching criticism for praise. Your confidence will take a massive boost.


Jodie Rogers

An empowerment coach and facilitator, Jodie Rogers has spent the past 15 years working extensively with blue chip companies, guiding their teams on the psychology of decision-making, influence and communication. Here, she shares her expert advice on beating the emotional baggage that’s holding you back at work.

Every day we have a choice: to be our worst enemy or our internal cheerleader. We tend to default to the former, and that's not just women. The first step to overcoming it is awareness, followed by the recognition that just because we think something, it doesn't make it true.

We all have unchallenged assumptions or limiting beliefs that hold us back in life and in work. Women, often more so, because of their historical position in society and the reinforcement of the 'fairer' sex idea through life, family, education and society at large.

These gremlins tend to show up as 'I'm not ready', 'I'm not good enough', or ‘If I do X they won't like me'. If we stand out, we risk being judged as brazen rather than brave or go-getting.

Let’s take a promotion, or going for a job that requires a bit of stretch; there is a tendency for women to wait for 'readiness' or a feeling of increased confidence, which of course never comes. You don't get to be confident and ready in advance – that is the reward of bravery, stretch and growth. It’s what you get as a result of stepping up. Capability comes from being in the situation, learning on the job and owning the role.

We need to reverse the formula and think about rewards and positives, rather than consequences.

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