If you are above a certain age (as I am), you may well have found all the talk of self love a little bit cringe!
It makes me smile a little writing this, as let's face it, many of us have spent our informative years hearing narratives such as .......
'Don't flatter yourself!'
'Who do you think you are?'
'Don't show off'' and
'Don't draw attention to yourself'
And then suddenly, we are all being told to love ourselves!
Oh the irony is just delicious, isn't it!
Having spent much of our early years 'blending in' and 'doing the right thing'. We are well and truly practised at 'not being too much' and have spent many (wasted) years trying to be 'just right'.
I never quite managed the 'just right' thing - did you? And then the boundaries kept changing on that one too - didn't they. Fools gold!
I remember one of my first interviews back in the 80s and being asked to 'sell myself' to the interviewer. My first response was sheer panic. Followed by shock that someone would even suggest such a thing. Needless to say, I gave them no reason to hire me!
And here we are being told to sing from the rooftops about how we great we are.
What a dilemma. Especially when being modest was a Code of Conduct. Did we dilute ourselves down enough to take the modesty crown?
I think the answer to that is probably yes.
So we now our find ourselves with a bit of a dilemma and some anxiety thrown in for good measure. Because we've been so good at it. Do bear in mind here though, that the mindset was completely different when we were growing up. Although, by now, we have probably all had the good sense to realise that 'hiding our lights' is not a badge of honour in the modern world.
Thank goodness we haven't been so keen to pass it on to the next generation.
But where does that leave the 'midlifers' in this new world, then?
Well some of us have a bit of work to do. Truth! I include myself in that. I've done it, done it again and I shall continue to do it until it bloody well sticks. And I'm going to urge you to do the same.
So where to start?
First of all, let's acknowledge that it's OK to drop a lot of this stuff. If you just remind yourself of some of the one liners that have been cast your way over the years, it's not hard to see where the problem comes from. And why you've been holding yourself back. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves the whole 'modest' movement has probably held many of us back far more than we realise.
It is also true to say, that others within our circles may also have subscribed to the 'don't flatter yourself' way of thinking. So we may have find ourselves in an echo chamber as we have moved through our lives - where the same messages were repeated. 'Look at her, she loves herself' or 'she's full of herself' may have been the lines that were bandied around.
But self love is not the same as what we may describe as 'someone being completely in your face'.
Self love is not self indulgent. Neither is it bragging, nor showing off. At its very basic level, we need to have love for ourselves. Because everything we do starts with us.
In simplistic terms, our self love dictates how we show up in the world and what we do.
It is our own voice of permission that tells us that we can and that we have everything we need within us to do what we want to do. And if we take that a step further, it should also be telling us of our past accomplishments and successes to remind us that we are the right person to do them.
But if we've been encouraged 'not to brag', that level of success may be something that we find hard to recall. It may be that we just cannot acknowledge some of our successes and the things that are great about us. It may even feel 'wrong' to see them as such.
Midlife is often the time when we are ready to step into our own light after caring for others. Or perhaps, we are in a position to start crafting the life we love after years of hard work and heavy financial commitment. It's a time when we have a few choices. And why not? We've been hard at it for years.
And through my coaching work, I often find that it is exactly the time when these old stories start to come into their own. Because as we start to move forward, they start to pull us back.
Purely and simply because they've never been challenged. We've lived with them for too long. I have also experienced this for myself, as have many of my peers.
And this is when our 'too much' and 'be modest' dialogue starts to get in a quandary. And we don't put ourselves forward. Because we actually aren't very good at talking about our ourselves and our strengths. In fact, it may not even occur to us to do so.
This is a good indicator that our thoughts are completely misaligned with the now. And that it's time to challenge them.
Success along with failure was often brushed under the 1970's carpet. Not always spoken about. We may have been told 'don't keep talking about it'. It may also go some way towards explaining why we often fear success and failure in equal measure.
Because when we fear blowing our own trumpet, we get used to quietly whistling and then stopping when someone is in earshot.
But we need to learn to be at ease with sharing the good things about ourselves. Otherwise, we dilute all that is good through fear of what others may think or say. And it will always keep us from stepping into what is meant for us. We are who we are and we've done what we've done. That is not up for debate.
It is, of course, a massive leap out of the midlife comfort zone but it's never too late to start switching to a healthier and more enabling thought process. Never too late at all.
So for all of those things that you don't feel you should share because it feels like you are bragging or showing off, ask yourself 'why?'. And keep on asking yourself 'why?'. Ask yourself why as many times as you need to. Over and over. Because you will start to realise that many of your thoughts come from really old stuff. And that they have no bearing on your life now. You may even realise how out of touch they actually are.
But - guess what? You're a grown up now. And I'm assuming that as you have read this far, you may just be in midlife too. So you get to decide. You have choices. You are in charge.
And if you haven't reached midlife yet but this resonates - it means you get to decide too! You can't wriggle out of this, so don't go thinking she isn't talking to me!!
Because no one can give you permission to start celebrating you. You are the only one that can do that. External validation doesn't last - you have to keep going back for more.
So, it's time to start giving yourself permission to celebrate you. And to celebrate the things that are great about you. Keep on practicising. It may feel icky and uncomfortable at first but the more you do it, the more you will realise that it is OK to do so. And the more you challenge those nagging voices, the quieter they will become.
Until your love for yourself is unconditional.
You are in charge here. It's a perk of life. You've earned it.
If this post has resonated with you and you feel that you are being held back by some of the thoughts, emotions or feelings that I discuss, I invite you to book a call with me to discuss whether coaching could help you to move forward.
If you found this post helpful, you may also find this post useful too - What is a Limiting Belief?
My name is Nicky Kentisbeer and I am a Mindset & Confidence Coach. I support women to work on their mindset and develop the confidence that they need to move beyond the challenges that are keeping them stuck, towards a place that they would much rather be. I do this based on the belief that we have within us the most incredible resources and capabilities to find our own solutions - irrespective of our background or starting point. There is no barrier to entry.
Maybe you have a feeling of being stuck, going round in circles or living the same day over and over? Or, are you finding that the way you approach problems and challenges always gives you the same result? And it’s not the one that you want. The feeling of being stuck is incredibly disempowering because it brings about feelings of indecision, procrastination, overthinking and fear which in turn can affect our self-belief and confidence. And if you stop to think about it, you may find that you fear success as much as you do failure. Sometimes staying stuck may feel like a safer place to be when the alternative means change and stepping outside of your comfort zone? There is nothing unusual here as we do all have a tendency to stand in our own way at times. This may happen because you have lost sight of how resourceful you are. You may also allow old beliefs and stories to inform your response to what is going on for you currently. Yet, much of this narrative is historical and it is no longer relevant to your life now and the choices that you make. As your coach, I can support you to understand and address the things that may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Through 1-to-1 coaching sessions, we will explore what it is that you want and the steps that you need to take to get started. I will ask lots of questions! Questions that you may not have asked of yourself. It is through these questions that I invite you to look at things in different ways, from a different perspective and access your own solutions accordingly. I will invite you to look at old beliefs and the stories that you may be telling yourself about your abilities. I do not teach nor tell you how things should be done. And there is no judgement. If this resonates with you, I invite you to book a free 30-minute call with me to discuss whether coaching would be the right approach for you to start turning your ideas and aspirations into action.