Despite the freedom that’s come with claiming our rightful place in society, we women have become enslaved by a different form of captivity. We’ve become slaves of our own minds.

And here’s the reason why. As we fought for all the roles that men had harbored, we got used to comparing ourselves to our male counterparts. This comparison denies the multiple strengths that we possess as women – strengths that are now being touted as highly effective for inspiring leadership. But more than that, it disconnects us from who we are and how we can show up authentically in the world.

Returning to an era when we stayed at home and tended to the family is definitely not the answer – and especially not one coming from a women’s leadership coach whose work is grounded in positive psychology – the science of optimal flourishing! Not only does it murder our potential, it also defeats the purpose for a mind as relational as ours. We women are naturally wired to compare ourselves to others. In a society that worships perfection, our heroes are often imaginary concepts of an ideal that is impossible to reach. No wonder, we end up with feelings of  jealousy, beat down on ourselves for our apparent inadequacies and reconfirm our beliefs of failure over and over again.

There is a better way. We can capitalize on our relational qualities to gain strength from meaningful relationships. Instead of going down the negative path of comparison, we can would do well to surround ourselves with positive cheerleaders, who remind ourselves of our strengths so that we have the tools to face our weaknesses.

Here’s where knowing the difference (Neff) between self-esteem and self-worth is handy. Self-esteem is our internal score of how we measure up against others while self-worth is our unflinching belief in our goodness along with our recognition of our faults and failings. For it is then that we can take all that is bright and beautiful within us and shine its light on the parts of ourselves that we reject, even though they hold our truth.

Relying on self-worth to grow lasting levels of self-confidence is a far more effective route. This is because recognizing and accepting our flaws with self-compassion provides us the courage to do the right thing. Nothing can be as powerful – for it is through action that we grow in self-confidence. Research shows that men too experience self-doubt. But they rarely allow the nagging voice of the inner critic to stop them in their tracks.

How we use this relational capacity to gain self-confidence is what’ll free us from the chatter mill of the inner critic. Instead of comparing ourselves to real and imagined figures, plunging into jealousy and beating down on our inadequacies, we would do well to surround ourselves with positive cheerleaders, who remind ourselves of our strengths so that we have the tools to face our weaknesses.

The moral of the story is to

  • Surround yourself with people who radiate positive energy
  • Embrace your wholeness, goodness and flaws
  • Act – despite the inner critic telling you you’ll fail AGAIN

Do you have an inner critic sprawled in your mind? How do you push it aside and contain it in a corner? What’s worked for you and what’s not? I’d love to hear back from you!

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