Last week I wrote about finding it difficult to relax on holiday and shared some top line advice about how to deal with the different stages of holiday stress. This week, I wanted to write in a bit more detail about an area that I really struggled with in particular on this holiday, and that's self doubt. It’s something I help people with every day but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to it myself and when it gets me, it really does it’s worst. I've questioned whether I should even write this post but I see so many women struggling with this every day that I really wanted to share my thoughts.
I tend to manage my self doubt and negative thoughts by plugging away at achieving my goals. As long as I know I’m working towards something, I can generally keep on top of those feelings, especially as I learn by doing, and learning makes me feel nourished and calm. I’ve found on this self-employment journey that I’m always ‘on’, always at work, always thinking about what more I can do, what insights I can gather. At times I find that tough, and it leaves me feeling as though I have one hand tied behind my back if I’m made to stop working! Can you believe I actually feel as though a family holiday with my beautiful son and gorgeous husband is being MADE to stop working!?
I find when I’m struggling with something that it helps to make sense of it with a metaphor and so in the first few days of my holiday while this was really front of mind I found myself ruminating on the 'Volcano of Self Doubt'.
Why a volcano? Because the thoughts are hot and vicious… they’re like molten lava and they rear up in my head unchecked when there’s nothing else to distract me. Largely dormant or under control, the lava is controlled by a protective crust that is maintained day to day by the routines and rituals I create to keep my daily life running smoothly. I strengthen it by writing blogs, working with clients, seeing them grow in confidence and achieve great things, meeting like-minded people, having exciting conversations about collaborations and new ideas… But the lava is always there, just beneath, ready to blow. Put me in a holiday situation and I'm exposed to the triple threat of a change in environment, the inability to KEEP doing, and the added guilt of knowing I need to enjoy this family time. It's very powerful stuff. The plates move around and bam, the volcano blows! Add that to the fact that I have to get into a bikini – I won’t even bother telling you about my post baby Instagram fuelled body hang ups - and I’m done for!
So how did I deal with it? Well first of all, after a day or so of feeling a somewhat out of control I recognised it for what it is and worked through all of the above in my head. Secondly, I worked out the six stages of holiday stress (read it here) and figured this was an extreme example of PANIC.
Secondly, I explained the whole thing to my husband. I often see my clients visibly relax when the tangled mess of thoughts that is spinning round their heads starts to unspool as they talk me through everything. This is exactly how I felt as I started to tell him how I was feeling, especially when I reassured him I didn’t need him to DO anything, just listen and let me get it out of my head.
Thirdly, (here we go again!) I broke it down – I worked out exactly what was fuelling that self doubt and really challenged myself on whether or not each of them was really true or whether I could look at it through a different lens. Guess what? I was blowing most things out of proportion, or giving myself a ridiculously hard time. Oh and lo and behold as soon as I started to create more positive vibrations, a few emails arrived in my inbox that I’d been waiting for – waiting for responses to things is daily self doubt fuel for me!
Lastly, I got my body issues into a little bit more perspective, I stood up straight, I remembered that I’d made a tiny person, I remembered that I am now the weight I wanted to be for my entire 20s and I looked back at all the photos I’d decided were evidence of how awful I was with a slightly softer mental lens.
So there you go, no words of advice from me this week. I often find though that just reading how someone else deals with a similar problem to me gives me enough inspiration to pull my self out of that headspace for long enough to get a different perspective. On that basis alone, I hope I've helped!
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