The Key to Building Self-Confidence

Apr 28, 2020 | CPA Blogs |

CPA MOMS Podcast with Dawn Goldberg
Ep. 73 The Key to Building Self-Confidence

On the surface it would appear that self-confidence shouldn’t be an issue for accountants; the inherent combination of intelligence, respect and professionalism, should make self-confidence a non-issue.  As a CPA and a mom, you should have even more to be confident and proud of, and should be strutting around like a proud peacock.

So, since on the surface it would appear that self-confidence wouldn’t be an issue for you as a hard-working accountant and mom, then what’s the problem?  From the outside looking in, you’ve got what it takes to have a successful career as well as be the best mom you can be.

Interestingly all of these assumptions are exactly the reason why self-confidence can be an issue for accountant moms.  That’s because your intelligence, outward achievements, accolades and successes aren’t responsible for your self-confidence, or lack of.

The key to building self-confidence isn’t found in the number of professional designations after your last name, the school you attended, or your technical acumen; it’s found in learning how to manage and master your mind.  If you haven’t learned how to manage your mind, then it’s no wonder you may have issues with self-confidence.

Learning how to build self-confidence is some of the most life-changing and career-changing work you can do as a working mom.  Unlocking the secret to building self-confidence means there’s nothing standing in the way of creating and having the life you want.

This week I’m going to discuss how self-confidence works, and the key to building it.

How self-confidence works

One of the most difficult questions most working moms (and women in general) have an issue answering is “What do you want?”  The reason this question is so challenging is because of your female brain.

Your female brain has a lot of complicated stories that it likes to tell you; about what you can do, about what’s possible and how you probably shouldn’t try to change the status quo. If these stories started at a young age, they are firmly embedded and often difficult to become aware of.

I just went to see the Broadway show “Mean Girls” with my 27 year-old daughter and during the intermission I overheard some mothers of teenage girls talking about when they were in high school.  The memories of “who said what” to them, which at the time had damaged their self-confidence, was still very fresh in their minds.

The main antagonist in the play, Regina George, represents all the “mean girl” things that your female brain tells you, without your conscious awareness.  This unconscious dialogue can be challenging because just when you think you’ve gotten past a lack of confidence in one area of your life, a new situation often dredges up all your old limiting beliefs.

The reason this happens is because your female brain is so powerful that it will look for proof of whatever you believe, matching your beliefs with evidence of those beliefs.  Just like a twisted version of Match.com for your brain, if you lack self-confidence, your brain will confirm all the ways that that’s true for you.

For example, if you don’t believe you can train for that 5k, your brain will show you all the reasons why you’re right.  It will offer you thoughts like “Remember how you hated running in gym class” or “Do you really have the time to take on something like this?”

Your female brain is amazing, but it’s also negatively biased and has a job it takes very seriously – keeping you safe.  It interprets change as danger, so even though you may want to do things like push yourself out of your comfort zone by training for a 5k, advancing in your career or going back into the dating world after a divorce, your female brain wants you safe and warm under the covers.

What often happens for accountant moms is that you believe that your accomplishments will finally give you self-confidence, so you try things like working longer and harder, dieting or exercising more radically, or trying to please everyone.  The issue is that when you try to fix self-confidence by creating something external, it doesn’t last.

Unfortunately, if you think that something like getting a promotion will build your self-confidence, most likely you will wind up still feeling insecure in the new position, often faced with imposter syndrome.  The reason this happens is because your outer circumstances don’t create confidence.

Finding a mate, losing the weight or hearing the praises, are the effects, and not the cause, of your self-confidence.  If you didn’t have self-confidence before going after these achievements, you’ll quickly fall back into your old belief system because beliefs don’t change without some work.

That’s why achieving the professional status of CPA, while also managing being a working mom, won’t build self-confidence if you haven’t changed your underlying beliefs about yourself.  If you struggle with self-confidence, it’s because you haven’t addressed the cause.

The key to building self-confidence

Since self-confidence doesn’t come from the things that you’ve achieved, then where does it come from?  Self-confidence is created by your thoughts and beliefs, specifically the thoughts about yourself and your ability to trust yourself.

You don’t need accomplishments and validation from other people to produce confidence.  In fact, it’s actually the complete opposite – you need to believe in your ability first, before you can accomplish something with confidence.

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to know how to do something, you only need to trust in yourself and your ability to figure it out.  That’s when change and growth become possible; by overriding your female brain’s default “mean girl” setting, you can rewire your brain to create self-confidence.

In the beginning, if your self-confidence is pretty low, then it can be helpful to acknowledge your previous accomplishments by listing them and reminding yourself of what you’ve already been able to do.  It will give you a temporary boost, and lessen the grip your brain has on some old limiting beliefs about what’s possible.

For example, don’t overlook the fact that, in reality, you probably had to work very hard to become an accountant.  Or, if you are a mom, that you brought a child (or more) into this world and are supporting your family financially, doing your best to balance it all.

But in order to take this to the next level, you need to create self-confidence where there is no evidence.  This happens when you learn to create a new belief and trust in your ability to create something in the future, that you have no evidence for from your past.

For example, you may be a CPA employee who has a dream to own your own practice or be a solo mompreneur, but lack the confidence to leave your familiar job. It’s completely natural for your female brain to come up with all the reasons why this idea is impossible.

Remember, your brain sees change as threatening. But in order to create confidence where there is no evidence, you have to override the default beliefs that keep you stuck where you are, and begin to gradually believe in a new future that’s different than the past.

Self-confidence comes from believing that you already have the qualities you will need.  You may not have the knowledge, skills or experience, but you can choose to believe that you have the ability to figure it out, to get the support you need and get the results you want.

In order to create this level of self-confidence, it’s more helpful to think of things that you’ve found challenging, where you persevered.  Think about those times that were difficult, where you didn’t give up; those moments that took character, strength and tenacity.

Try to recall the times you struggled, suffered setbacks or got knocked down but got back up.  It could be a time when you had to roll some change to pay the electric bill, or broke up with someone and felt depressed for weeks but eventually got past it, or maybe you failed a test but didn’t let that stop or define you.

When I’m struggling with self-confidence, I always remind myself about the period of my life where my ex-husband was struggling with an addiction.  I had never dealt with anything like it before; I had to manage my accounting career, my children’s needs and get us all the support that we needed.

There were moments where I just wanted to give up but I pushed through; I took it one day at a time and showed a perseverance and strength of character that I didn’t realize I was capable of.  It was extremely challenging and scary, but I decided that falling apart wasn’t an option.

Fast forward to now, and whenever I need a boost of self-confidence because I’m exploring new career options or considering doing something I’ve never done before, I remind myself of the time I was faced with the challenge of dealing with someone else’s addiction.  I didn’t give up then, despite having never done anything like it, and there’s no reason to doubt my abilities to figure things out now.

I want to point out that I struggled with self-confidence for most of my life and that I could have told the story of dealing with my ex-husband’s addiction in a completely different way.  I could have focused on the fact that I had no idea he was an alcoholic, how other people knew but I didn’t, and how I couldn’t trust my instincts anymore because of that.

The big question is – how would that serve me?  What’s the upside to telling my story that way? There is no upside which is why my self-confidence now comes from focusing on how I handled the situation once I found out the truth, how I made sure my children had consistency in the midst of chaos, and how I stayed strong under the weight of all the challenges I was facing.

Even though past challenging situations may be completely unrelated to what you are dealing with now, the strength, perseverance and qualities that you used then are still relevant now. Self-confidence is much less about what you did, and much more about your thoughts and beliefs about yourself.

Today I have confidence in my intelligence, in my ability to figure things out, in my strength in the midst of chaos, in my ability to create balance, and in my ability to manage my mind no matter what.  This confidence has opened more doors to opportunities and growth than I’ve ever experienced in my life.

My confidence doesn’t come from the things I did, it comes from what I choose to think about the things I did.  I can choose to think in a way that makes me feel worried and doubtful, or I can choose to think in a way that makes me feel courageous and determined.

Now it’s your turn – think about the times in your life where you feared you couldn’t do something and you did it; where you kept going or did something that you hadn’t done before.  Instead of looking to outer accomplishments to create confidence, look to those moments where your inner character shined.

You will always be challenged with something new, and your female brain will naturally resist it every time, but you have the power to override any doubt.  By building a mental resume of all the character traits you possess that have gotten you where you are, your brain will show you evidence of those traits.

A word of caution – as women we are often taught at a young age to be humble, to not shine too brightly and to be in a supportive role.  I’m here to give you permission to own your intelligence, your strength of character and any other quality that makes you a badass working mom. .

By consistently practicing thinking about how you have overcome challenges, no matter how big or small, you will begin managing your mind.  When you change the way you think about yourself, you create the feeling of self-confidence on purpose.

The key to building self-confidence is overriding any limiting, “mean girl” thoughts and instead managing your mind and deliberate choosing the beliefs you want to have about yourself.  The best part is that nothing outside of you can give you confidence; it’s all within your power to create it for yourself.

You’ve got this!  Now stop playing small momma, and strut those peacock feathers!

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