It can be hard to look confident, put on your best face, when inside you just don’t feel that way. There’s a knot in your stomach, tension running across your shoulders pulling them tight, a twitch in your hand you’re trying to hide. It might be your customers, your stakeholders, your team, your organisation who are watching and assessing you, and you’re determined to demonstrate that you’re capable even when the voice inside is telling you you’re a fraud, you have no idea what you’re doing.
And when you think it, you feel it, you act on it. And your actions reinforce your thoughts.
This think-feel-act cycle means it’s easy to be caught in a cycle that reinforces feels of trepidation and nervousness, making it worse each time.
So what can you do? How do you hack into it? Change it?
The first step is to recognise it’s happening and when it happens.
To hack ‘think’
- Turn your negative self-talk into positive self-talk. Rather than “I can’t do this” change it to “I’m going to do the best I can”
- Question your inner critic. Ask yourself “what is it that you’re trying to draw my attention to?”
- Remind yourself of your strengths. Say them out loud. Look yourself in the mirror and say them to yourself.
- Create boundaries. Know what you’re going to say no to. Don’t deviate from that.
- Think long term. What’s your purpose? How will what you’re about to do fit in with that?
To hack ‘feel’
- Visualise yourself as the person you want to be. How do they feel? What do they do?
- Use power poses. Think of your favourite super hero, sports person, someone confident. Mimic them, how they stand and hold themselves.
- Feel good about yourself. What you eat, what you wear, taking time to exercise, sleep well.
To hack ‘Act’
- Break something you’re trying to accomplish into small achievable goals. Then mark your progress and achievement. Have an ‘I did it’ list.
- Do something you’re fearful of. Then celebrate that you’ve done it.
- Fake it. Fake it and fake it again. Until it no longer feels like you’re faking it.
- Mistakes are good, as long as you learn from them.
- Most importantly keep trying. It’s going to feel like a huge effort at first. But slowly it’ll start to become more natural to the point where you’re no longer thinking about it.
Siân obtained her PhD and spent one year in post-doctoral research before she joined AstraZeneca working on late stage drug discovery projects. She returned to academia managing a range of translational research projects and recently oversaw a >£6m National Institute for Health Research Patient Safety Translational Research Centre focused on primary care. Siân obtained her qualification as an executive level coach and now focuses on supporting scientists who have just taken on greater leadership responsibility, so that they become self-assured leaders.
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