This post is part of our blog series, The A to Z of Being Babyproof, a celebration of the attitudes and behaviours it takes to balance career and family – because “babyproof” is not a destination, it’s a blueprint for having it all and making it work.
Mid-way through our series of blog posts investigating the importance of self-belief, it has become abundantly clear that harnessing a positive belief system and challenging negative assumptions is key for getting the most out of life and achieving our dreams. Understanding this theory of positivity is fairly straightforward; scientific research has proven that positive thinking expands the mind, and engenders more positive experiences and emotions. When we achieve a small goal, the brain feels rewarded and releases endorphins, which in turn makes us feel more positive and dynamic. The more positive we feel, the more we achieve, and the more we achieve, the more positive we feel. It’s a simple upward spiral, so surely we should all be up there on cloud 9, reaching for the stars and living our dreams? It’s certainly the ideal. If, however, you are finding that it all seems easier said than done, or that your practice of positive self-belief doesn’t quite match the straightforward theory – you might be making one of these common mistakes in your approach.
5 common mistakes in harnessing self-belief.
1 – Thinking that your negative ‘beliefs’ are ‘facts’.
If you are struggling to overcome a negative internal narrative, understand that your beliefs have been shaped by your background, culture and people around you. Perhaps having had a happy childhood with a stay-at-home mum makes you believe that it’s somehow wrong to maintain a top-flight career whilst bringing up children? Or that being ambitious in your working life is vulgar or unladylike? Analyse where your limiting beliefs stem from and seek out evidence to challenge them. This will help you differentiate negative assumptions from real facts.
2 – Believing others ahead of yourself.
If you suffer from any self-doubt, it is sometimes easier to take a back seat and let others have opinions and make decisions for you. But you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take control of your own beliefs and your own destiny. Be aware that others’ opinions, media reports and cultural norms come with their own agendas and biases. You owe it yourself to do your own research and make up your own mind. Is it beneficial for kids to have a stay-at-home mum? Your best friend and that recent newspaper survey might say so, but plenty of other research points to the contrary. If you arm yourself with the facts, it is much easier to have positive belief in your chosen course of action.
3 – Thinking someone else’s experience will be your experience.
This is a tough one. No one is pretending it’s a walk in the park balancing a top-flight career with having children – and there are many careers that have crashed and burned in attempting it. Perhaps you have a seen a capable senior female colleague resigning when the going gets tough or have friends who haven’t been able to make it work. But this doesn’t have to be YOUR experience. If you prepare yourself for the challenges ahead (and reading this blog shows you have already taken the first steps towards doing so!) you will be in a much stronger position when the time comes. Find other role models whose values you admire and who have made it work (read my blog on the importance of role models here ) – study their experiences or find a mentor. Concentrate on positive examples of working mothers that you can identify with and your self-belief will be bolstered.
4 – Not understanding how beliefs shape your reality.
There is no magic genie in a bottle of course and wishing something doesn’t necessarily make it happen. There will always be unforeseen events and circumstances that no-one can plan for. However – there is plenty of evidence that adopting positive beliefs impacts positively on your behaviours and emotions, which in turn impacts on your life outcomes. Not fully appreciating the important role your belief systems play in determining what you do with your life is missing a trick. If you believe that you can have the career and family you want, you’re more likely to notice and seek out opportunities and people that will help you get there. If you believe you can make it work, you will be more engaged, prepare yourself better, perform well, achieve goals and thus become more positive. If you don’t have self-belief, you won’t have the motivation to engage or prepare well, your performance suffers, you don’t reach your goals and so become more negative. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. By working on your positive self-belief you are giving yourself every opportunity to live up to your potential and be your best self. Life doesn’t just happen to you – you have the biggest role in shaping it.
5 – Not understanding that you have the power to change negative beliefs into positive ones.
Belief is a powerful concept – it goes to the very heart of what makes us human. It’s not a cognitive process – it’s the collection of deeply held feelings that seem to have always existed within us. And if that’s the case – how can you change them? If you are encumbered by limiting beliefs because of your background, culture or former experiences, it can be tempting to give in to them. How can it be possible to change such integral values into positive beliefs that will propel you forward in life? Well, it certainly IS possible as I know from my own experience, but it takes effort, practice and perseverance. Check out my blog post which gives tips on how to access and change your inner belief system – for the better!
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Caroline Flanagan is a Keynote Speaker, Babyproof Coach and Author of Babyproof Your Career, The Secret to Balancing Work and Family so you can Enjoy It All. Caroline believes passionately in the dream of having it all, and founded Babyproof Your Life to train and prepare ambitious career women for the marathon of working parenthood so they can find their own way to #enjoyitall and #makeitwork. You can reach Caroline at email@example.com