Stop faking it, start feeling it!

Stop faking it, start feeling it!

I am of course talking about confidence here – what else?!

When it comes to confidence, there are many books, articles and speakers that will tell you to “fake it till you make it”. And I totally see where they’re coming from, because confidence is something that grows with taking action, and so you have to get started to grow it. The issue I have with this advice is that faking confidence can feel really “icky” because it doesn’t feel authentic when we do it. We know we’re faking it, and that will limit us from being present and enjoying being ourselves in the moment.

Before I learned how to tap into my authentic confidence, I used to fake it in meetings, at networking events, even at parties with friends. I behaved how I thought I was meant to behave and said the things I thought were expected of me, all whilst being acutely aware of how unnatural it all sounded coming out of my mouth. And that was because those actions weren’t aligned in any way with how I felt inside. It was an act, and quite an exhausting one to be honest.

How about you? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel authentically confident being you? Imagine what you could do, achieve and believe was possible from a place of true confidence. How much more fun would you have as yourself, and how many new opportunities would surface if you could show up as the person you really wanted to be each day?

Now you might be thinking “I’ve never been confident in those situations, it’s just what I’m like”. But I don’t believe confidence is an innate personality trait or a fixed characteristic. I believe it is a feeling and state of mind that can be developed by:

  • releasing what’s blocking it
  • tapping into past experiences of confidence as a resource
  • building new experiences of what it means to be confident being you

In my experience as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, low confidence can be a result of all sorts of things, such as your perspective about previous experiences; a concern about being judged; a fear of the unknown and so on. We aren’t born without confidence, we make judgements about experiences we’ve had that manifest themselves in a lack of confident feelings and behaviour later down the line. Our unconscious mind exists to protect us, so if it made a conclusion from a previous experience that talking in front of a large group is a threat it will encourage behaviours that steer us away from similar situations in the future.

Often with my clients there will have been an event in the past which triggered a belief that sits at the root of the lack of confidence. I wasn’t yet a teenager when my confidence was totally knocked by my drama school teacher. I had been lucky as a child actor/singer to have had some brilliant experiences in theatre shows and a few TV ads.

One drama class, my friends asked me to tell them what it was like and so I proudly explained that with ballets and operas there is a TV in the wings that shows the orchestra conductor, which enables singers to take their cues and know when to come in. I excitedly told them what it was like back stage, about the lights around the mirrors in the dressing room, and what it was like going on tour. There was nothing I loved more than the theatre and they’d asked me to tell them, so I saw no harm in what I was doing.

Until my drama teacher overheard, accused me of showing off to the class and sent me out. She called my parents in to tell them about my unacceptable behaviour, how I was making others feel bad about themselves by bragging about my experience. I went home absolutely mortified that I had become a “show off”.

As an adult I can now see that was the catalyst for the many, many times I unconsciously held myself back because I was scared of putting myself out there and being seen as a “show off”. The little voice in my mind would tell me to be careful, that it was bad to make myself centre of attention, that I shouldn’t share my talents because that meant I was putting myself above everyone else.

I don’t blame my drama teacher for this. She was dealing with the situation as she saw it in front of her and would never have intended to create such a ripple effect. It’s so often something said or done that is seemingly minor or harmless to one person that takes on a whole new meaning for the other, especially if it’s a child doing the interpreting.

What’s so interesting is the amount of similar stories I hear in my online therapy sessions. They are often either stories where people have been told off for being seen and so concluded unconsciously that they shouldn’t be in the spotlight again. Or an experience of being made to be in the spotlight, such as standing up to read or say the times tables in class, and being laughed at for doing it wrong. If these events happened in the more formative years, often my clients don’t even consciously recall them as significant until we let the unconscious mind guide us to the event that we need to work on.

The beauty of Cognitive Hypnotherapy is that we have a wealth of techniques in our toolkit that enable us to revisit past events safely and release the intensity, reframe it in some way or pass on learning to our younger selves that means the event no longer has the same meaning it used to. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see the change on a client’s face (and often in their whole body) when they alter their perception of their significant event and suddenly things that never seemed possible before become possible.

That’s when the icky feeling can drop away. It existed because we were forcing ourselves to act in a way that contradicted what we’d learned was important to keep us safe all those years ago. Without that old belief, it is possible to be far more authentic as we lean into experiences. That’s when you can start taking actions to fuel a real feeling of confidence, rather than just forcing it and faking it.

And for those who tell me they’ve never ever felt confident, I tend to stroke my virtual therapist beard and say “really, never?”. Because even if it’s way, way back in a completely different context, or simply being confident that Saturday is the day that follows Friday, that’s an experience of confidence we can use. I share with my clients some amazing techniques founded in Neuro-linguistic programming that enable them to tap into that past confidence, and use it to feed positive feelings and actions in the present.

Now that I know my drama teacher got it wrong, that I wasn’t showing off because my friends had asked me to share my experience….Now that I believe sharing my experiences and talents doesn’t mean I am putting myself above everyone else, I can use the old feeling I used to have of being on stage to help me step into confidence when I need it as an adult. I can physically feel myself grow as I remember being on stage. I feel the warmth on my cheeks as I stand in the spotlight, and I feel the joy rise in my belly as I connect with others and share what I know. Now, giving talks and running workshops is one of my favourite parts of being a therapist and coach.

In my online therapy sessions we do amazing breakthrough work, and there’s nothing I love more than hearing from a client further down the line when they tell me what life is like for them now living with their new authentic confidence.

If you’d like to stop faking it and start feeling it, send me a message with what excites you the most about this and we’ll get your “Freedom from faking it” call booked in.

Free hypnosis track to release negative feelings

Free hypnosis track to release negative feelings

I don’t think any of us expected to be living in the reality we find ourselves in now. It’s an unfamiliar and uncertain time and I know for many people the combination of the health situation, being inside more with our own thoughts and not being able to be with loved ones is a cocktail for negative emotions.

In times of uncertainty, worries and fears can feel like they’re really strong and close, almost like they’re pressing down on us. If you’ve been feeling like that recently, please know this is completely normal. I’ve been feeling this way too and have been using self-hypnosis to help me shift my mind to a more positive place.

I have created a guided hypnosis track for you, which you can play free of charge from this page, below. It includes a metaphor for releasing negative feelings, absorbing positive ones and for creating a special protective layer around you that will help to keep your positive mindset going through the weeks ahead.

Health and safety notice: Guided trance recordings are not recommended for those with epilepsy, as in rare cases trance work can bring on seizures. Do not listen to this whilst driving or operating machinery. Thank you.

Press play to begin your guided hypnosis

You are welcome to share this page far and wide. We could all do with a little less negativity and a little more positivity right now!

Take care of you and stay well.

Gemma x

Every day I was told that I wasn’t good enough

Every day I was told that I wasn’t good enough

The true story of my imposter syndrome – more honest than ever before

It was December 2013 and I was aged 28. I had been working as a PR Manager for an international and highly-regarded organisation for almost three years and had a lovely content marketing team of three. I knew what I was doing and though there were the usual corporate challenges I was generally a happy worker bee. But then an opportunity came up in the organisation to interview for my manager’s role and become the head of the marketing department (a team of about 14 in total looking after everything from the TV ad campaigns to the call centre).

I had been brought up to apply myself and be grateful for good opportunities, so it didn’t even occur to me not to apply. I interviewed, got the job, and then it was Christmas so I had an unhelpful amount of time to think… and stew… and listen to the increasingly loud voice inside my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to do it. I went to Next and bought a suit, because I thought that would make me feel the part. It didn’t. I spent the week between Christmas and New Year trying to work out what computational error must have been made for me to be given the role. Despite getting very positive feedback about my interview I settled on the conclusion that they must have been desperate. Even though I had been told that they were confident in my abilities based on what I’d demonstrated on the job, and that they were happy to train me up on anything else, I decided I had to be perfect from day one or they’d realise they’d made a mistake.

Inevitably that meant I entered the office the first day back in January (wearing my new ill-fitted suit) filled from head to toe with anxiety. I called the first team meeting and sat there assuming everyone was thinking to themselves “Why on earth have they made her manager? I can’t wait to see her mess this up.” I projected doubt on their faces and cynicism in their voices (I know now that neither was true). I worked every hour there was to prove to myself and others that I was worthy of my title. I lost who I was as Gemma outside of work and became obsessed with over delivering on what was expected of me, to create a little good will for when they eventually worked out I was a total fraud. My imposter syndrome was absolutely wild – every day I told myself I wasn’t good enough and too many nights I cried from the pressure I’d put on myself.

Despite great appraisals, positive feedback from regional offices around the world and stacks of evidence that I was doing a good job, I just couldn’t get past the voice in my head that said I was going to get caught out. 11 months later I left the role and the organisation, as the internal battle with myself had worn me out. My imposter syndrome had won. It was nothing to do with the company, it was all me.

Over the six years since, the thoughts inside my head have made quite the transformation. Thanks to cognitive hypnotherapy I now understand the positive intention behind my unconscious thoughts. I now know that just because I have a thought that I’m not good enough that doesn’t make it true. I understand that I was strengthening the power of my inner critic by letting the same negative thought-signals run back and forth in my mind. I learned some amazing NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques to transform those thoughts and feelings and I learned about the power of embodiment and how being hunched over my desk in an ill-fitting suit was doing me no good whatsoever!

Not only do I now feel confident in my Head of Marketing role, but I also enjoy the person I am outside of work far more too. I feel free of the fear that I’m going to be caught out and know I have earned the position I now find myself in. I believe in myself and know that uncertainty and mistakes are learning opportunities and not directly connected to my self worth. And, best of all, I get to be a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Mindset Coach that helps my peers to make similar transformations.

That’s why I created the special online masterclass that I’m running on 28th January on Transforming Imposter Syndrome, because I don’t want you to have to waste all the years I did listening to an inner critic that isn’t serving you well. I want you to have unstoppable self-worth, and the pathway to that is to transform your imposter syndrome once and for all. If you can relate to my story, is it time to take action now so you can feel free too?

I’d love to have you there. Visit the website for all the details and to book one of the few available spaces.