Two confidence zapping words you should never use!

Have you ever planned an exciting party for your child (or yourself) and despite the fact that planning is going well, doubts start to creep in?  

What if no-one comes? What if it rains? What if people don’t have fun?

Then on the day of the party, people turn up, fun is had, guests were undeterred by the light rain showers and you all finish up with big smiles. “See?” you say to your child, “it all worked out, no need to have worried”.

confidence even in hard times.jpg

When my kids start with the “what if’s”, I say to them “what if your moustache was made of spinach?” This is so completely ridiculous it helps remind them of the futility of worrying about something that may never happen.

As adults, we’re guilty of the “what if’s” regularly in life and at work.

When we finally get our dream jobs, doubt can kick in. What if they realise I’m actually not that good? What if I stuff up? What if I don’t like the job as much as I thought I would? What if I don’t belong here?

These thoughts are normal and we all have them. But when we let them take hold, they zap our confidence and make us anxious. They get in the way of bravely exploring the possibilities in our new roles, and impede our chances of success. “What if’s” are just not useful.

The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne once summarised this truth when he quipped:

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened”

If you find the “what if’s?” undermining your confidence at work or in life, here’s what to do:

  1. Be your own cheerleader. Back yourself. Imagine things will go well. Allow enough time at work to do things well.

    At the end of the day take a minute to reflect on what went well and give yourself a high five.
  2. Bring your best self to each day. Get enough sleep, look after your health.

    Know your strengths and make sure you get the opportunity to use them every day. Make sure you can use your strengths in your job (Hint: if you don’t know what your strengths are, see a strengths-based coach!)
  3. Reflect on the worst-case scenario. If the “what if?” actually came to pass, what would you do? Write your answer down in this format: “If (insert the worst-case scenario), then I would (what you would do?)”.

    If you get derailed, knowing what your intentions are gives you the confidence that if need be - you’re capable of rising to the challenge and coping with the event. This diminishes the power the “what if” has over you.
  4. Change your perspective. Reframe your difficulties or even failures as an opportunity to learn something worthwhile. What you learn will help you set the right direction next time, and improve your performance in the future.

    In the end, you can only grow by moving towards challenges, not away from them.

We recommend you banish the confidence zapping, party pooping words that are“what if?” from your vocabulary! Those two words only rain on your parade, and chances are, they’ll never actually happen.

In the unlikely event they do happen, don’t let them undo you. Rather, be confident you’ll be able to cope and even grow from the challenge. And then you’ll succeed in at work or in life.

We’re in your corner

Debra and Kate


2 reasons why your New Year's resolutions flopped; and what to do instead

By now you may have an inkling as to whether your New Year’s resolutions are progressing well, or if they’ve fallen flat on their face. If you’ve disappointed yourself yet again, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

goals habits stick resolutions

We know from science it’s essential to have “resolutions”, or goals, to make the changes you wish for.  So, setting your goals at New Year is a good practice!

The trick is to set the right goals.

There are two reasons why most people don’t reach their goals:

1. They set goals they think they “should do”. The goal becomes more of a gaol!

The classic one for the New Year’s resolution: “I should diet as I put on 2kg over Xmas”.  The “should” makes it a chore and chores notoriously don’t get done.

What to do instead: Convert your “should” goals into “want to” goals.

Convert your “should” goals into “want to” goals

This means connecting to your WHY. If you connect to a value or a bigger picture desire, it fuels your motivation to make the goal super-attractive. You will feel good about doing the work required.  What if instead, you said “I want to lose 2kg over 3 months, to get in shape for the hike I’ve planned” or “I want to lose 2kg by Easter to feel great in my dress I bought for my friend’s wedding”.

Then, on days when you are challenged in sticking to your nutrition or exercise plan, you can reconnect with WHY this is important. This helps you re-engage with the HOW – the things you need to do to get it done. And you are more likely to achieve your goal.  

2. They don’t turn the actions that lead to their goal into habits.

It’s all very well to understand your WHY and feel motivated by your goal. But your motivation will only get you part of the way. Willpower alone is a limited resource that gets depleted. The rubber always hits the road in the doing. We only change if we act.

What to do instead: Entrench your actions in a way that builds a habit.

Entrench your actions in a way that builds a habit

So, for example, if you want to lose 2kg over 3 months, then you could decide to drink a glass of water and eat an apple every day at 3pm, a time when you normally hit your energy slump and reach for the sugar. Or, you could decide to take the stairs to your 6th floor office on the way in and out of work, rather than the lift. Eventually these behaviours become part of “how you do things” and become easier to do with less effort or willpower.  And then all these small steps build your confidence and boost your motivation, helping entrench the actions even more. Making it much more likely to achieve your goal.

To reach your goals you need to take a step back and develop a deep understanding of your values - what’s important for you in your life. Then you need to work out how to make your changes “stick”. If you don’t know how to do this, reach out to us and we’ll guide you to success.

With love from Flourishing Mothers

“Cause we’re all searching for the Holy Grail.....!”

Soon after I started studying Positive Psychology I had the opportunity to hear Martin Seligman (considered the founding father of Positive Psychology) speak.  He started by asking the room of about 300 to think about what we most hoped for our children or other loved ones.  He then asked us to raise our hands if “happiness” was at the top of the list.  A sea of hands went up!  This seems to be the holy grail......

But what does that look like, what’s involved?  How can we help our kids find lasting happiness?

I don’t think there’s a foolproof plan, but I’m excited about the new study of Strengths based parenting which focuses on looking first for what’s going well rather than following our natural human tendency to rush to fix weaknesses. 

We all tend to notice problems faster than we spot what’s going well

When we were cavemen this was extremely useful as a survival tool, but it doesn’t serve us as well in today’s world.  For example, I confess that in the past I’ve read my child’s school report and honed in quickly on the 20% that could be improved rather than celebrating the good comments and grades.  This term I’ll try to focus first on the great stuff to highlight to my daughters what they’re capable of and to build optimism that effort is worth it. 

So, why give Strengths based parenting a go?

Recent studies show that children and adolescents who have strength based parents:

  • Have higher levels of life satisfaction
  • Have a better understanding of their own strengths
  • Cope with conflict in more pro-active ways
  • Use their strengths to help them meet homework deadlines
  • Have lower levels of stress

These are practical outcomes which help create flourishing, high functioning families.

Strengths based parenting involves deliberately identifying and cultivating strengths in our children

It’s about connecting our kids with their inborn strengths such as strengths of character (eg. humour, kindness) as well as their talents such as writing or sporting ability.

flourishing mothers strengths based parenting

To do this we can start with simply keeping our eyes open for the strengths in our kids.  We can train our minds to look out for the moments when our kids are awesome and work out what strengths are being used.  For example, imagine your child asks to take a piece of cake home for their sister from a party; you might be seeing their strength of kindness or fairness in action. 

As we become familiar with strengths we can start talking to our kids about them and let them know that we recognise and appreciate their best qualities.  This is what helps our children flourish.  If you’d like to learn more about character strengths the VIA Institute on Character is a terrific place to start.

But wait there’s more!

Making an effort to focus on the strengths of our children can also improve our own life satisfaction and confidence in our parenting skills!  The research also shows that parents who completed a course in strengths based parenting reported they were finding parenting more interesting and felt more confident in their role as a parent. They also experienced more positive emotions towards their children.  It all makes a pretty compelling case!

We’ve been inspired by the work of Dr Lea Waters and the stories of parents who are trying to be strengths based.  You can watch some parent stories here: 

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss how to get started with strengths based parenting and as this is a new and evolving field of study we’ll definitely tell you more about it in the future!

Best wishes

Flourishing Mothers