3 Wrong Ways to Break Free from Self-Doubt at Work

Why your attempts to break from self-doubt at work never feel like enough…

Why is it that sometimes even when on the surface it looks as if we have everything that we need to feel confident at work, we still often don’t feel this way?

There’s always something nagging us in the background.

For example:

As a leader, you think you need to put on a brave front because you’re in charge… but there are days when you don’t feel cut out for everything your role entails. You may even find yourself taking on extra work to try and keep your head above water… while at the same time wondering what your boss and staff are saying about your performance when you’re not around.

Or as a professional, you may feel calm and confident one day… but spiral into constantly second-guessing yourself the next day. Should you have said that in the meeting? Did you make the right call on that tough file? What are other people thinking about you after you stumbled around in that presentation?

Or maybe you’re looking to go for a big promotion or career change, but you keep talking yourself out of it, telling yourself that you’re too inexperienced, that you can’t possibly make that type of professional leap, or worst of all… that even if you do get the job, everyone will soon find out that you’re a total fraud.

Why can’t you just feel good enough at work?

You’re looking to fill an emptiness inside and you might think that the answer to feeling more confident at work lies outside of you – more respect from your boss, having your staff support your decisions, the perfect new job (a promotion) falling into your lap…

But I’m here to tell you that in order to fill that void, the very first step is to change how you feel about yourself. And this involves working on an emotional intelligence competency called self-regard.

Self-regard is defined as respecting oneself while understanding and accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses. It is often associated with feelings of inner strength and self-confidence.

When you have a healthy level of self-regard, you’re able to celebrate your internal sense of self-satisfaction and confidence WITH the outside world… not THROUGH it.

You can enjoy things like the respect you receive from others, support for your tough decisions, validation of your capabilities and work experience… without needing it to feel good about yourself.

And best of all, you’re unapologetic about being your true self because you don’t feel compelled to prove anything to anyone.

Developing your self-regard is powerful and it’s actually easier than you might think. Here’s how to do it…

What Stops Most People From Doing the Very Thing that Can Improve Their Self-Regard

When most people hear the advice, “You have to work on yourself first,” they usually either tune out or reject it outright. They think it’s too “intangible” or “elusive.”

This is unfortunate, because working on your own self-regard is actually the very thing that can help you break free from self-doubt at work.

In my experience, there are 3 misguided approaches that people take in order to increase their level of self-regard. These approaches don’t work because they involve seeking approval from external sources, instead of from within, where it really matters.

Have you ever done any of these things?

(1) You breach your own boundaries to please other people.

You do the work yourself instead of delegating it to your staff, you take the projects that no one wants, you constantly stay late… you basically sacrifice your health and well-being for work.

When you have a healthy level of self-regard, you don’t overextend yourself consistently to convince others that you’re competent at your job.

In fact, I see people constantly pleasing others at their own expense to provide a momentary “fix” to their feelings of self-doubt. These temporary fixes never last long because underneath all that people-pleasing, you still don’t appreciate yourself for who you really are.

(2) You hold back your true opinion or you only partially share it because you don’t want to upset others.

You don’t fully say what’s on your mind to your boss, your staff, or your coworkers because you’re afraid this will damage relationships.

You often wonder why you feel so unsatisfied after difficult conversations, such as tough performance reviews, disagreements about how to handle a file or project, or when you have to defend a decision you’ve made.

If your true full perspective doesn’t make it to the table on a regular basis, you’ll forever feel unhappy at the office. This is because you’re holding back a core part of yourself that desperately wants to be seen and heard.

(3) You keep reading books and articles about how YOU can improve because you’re afraid to hold other people accountable for their actions.

Whenever you encounter a disagreement at work, you’re overly-focussed on how you could listen more, be more caring, do more… and you shy away from considering how effective you are at asserting your own needs and getting them met.

Focussing exclusively on one side of this equation is a losing strategy because when you don’t communicate what’s important to you effectively, others will inevitably assume that you’re doing just fine… even when you’re not.

If you’ve tried using these 3 strategies to break free from self-doubt at work, you’ve most likely been spinning your wheels.

No One Can Make You Feel Good Enough No Matter How Much They Validate You

The truth is that if you don’t have a healthy level of self-regard, you won’t be able to feel confident within yourself at work.

You’ll constantly vacillate between blaming others for your feelings of inadequacy and shaming yourself for not doing good enough because deep down you can’t accept anyone for who they are… because you haven’t yet accepted you for who YOU are.

The great news is that developing self-regard doesn’t require nearly as much effort as you’re spending on trying to make other people appreciate and agree with you. And it certainly doesn’t involve breaching your own boundaries, over-extending yourself, or people-pleasing.

Developing your self-regard is a much simpler process than you think. And it’s much more powerful than receiving external praise or validation.

When you have a healthy level of self-regard, everything changes.

Your relationships improve because you’re no longer hiding your true self from others. You are accepting of your own strengths and weaknesses and this allows you to face challenges at work from a more balanced and grounded place.

Your career transforms because you become crystal clear about which people, workplaces, and projects are for you and which ones you need to move on from – unapologetically.

Your energy levels improve because you’re no longer wasting your time on strategies like the ones mentioned above that don’t actually help you achieve your professional goals.

Curious to learn more?

The EQ-I 2.0 is a scientifically validated leadership development inventory that measures you on 15 emotional intelligence competencies, including self-regard. In my EQ-I 2.0 coaching package, you’ll receive your own personalized report which includes step-by-step strategies on how to improve in your weaker areas.

Some of the related competencies covered in the EQ-I 2.0 are:

Assertiveness: communicating feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner.

Emotional Expression: openly expressing one’s feelings verbally and non-verbally.

Independence: the ability to be self directed and free from emotional dependency on others. Decision-making, planning, and daily tasks are completed autonomously.

The EQ-I 2.0 Leadership Report includes handouts on:

  • Leadership, Conflict Management, and Emotional Intelligence
  • A Leadership Guide to Striking the Optimal Balance
  • Leading a Multigenerational Workforce

In addition to your personalized EQ-I 2.0 report, this package includes a short series of coaching sessions with me where we’ll do a deeper dive into the thoughts, beliefs, and patterns that are holding you back at work. You’ll leave each coaching session with customized concrete action steps for you to take so that you can reach your professional goals more quickly and easily.

But it’s a process that has to start from within you, not from outside of you.

As long as you keep relying on external sources to feel good about yourself, self-doubt will keep stopping you from becoming the high performing leader or professional that you can be.

It’s only through working on yourself that you can gain the sense of inner-peace you’ve been wanting during those challenging moments at work.

If you’re ready to do this, contact me to find out more about my EQ-I 2.0 coaching package.

It would be my honour to assist you.

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