The Importance of Action

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I had an inspiring conversation this week with another woman who, like me, is dedicated to building the confidence and success of young women everywhere.  She runs an organization called the Girls Leadership Institute (which you should definitely check out here), and as we were discussing our inspiration I told her about two very prominent values I noted from their organization.  The first was their use of the word “authenticity” on their website and in their materials, and the second was their dedication to taking action in teaching and training girls to believe in themselves.

I got to thinking.  It’s “easy” to a certain extent to do what I do – to think, write, and talk about the importance of building confidence and belief in ourselves.  It’s much more difficult to take action to change it.

We’ve spent time in this blog trying to understand a little bit about why we, as women, often struggle to believe in ourselves, chase our dreams, and live as our real, authentic selves.  We’ve tried to understand ourselves better by taking a hard look at our motivations, desires, and needs.  And those are both very important steps in personal growth.  But I think it only can reach so far if we don’t actually take action to better ourselves.  We have to move beyond thinking about wanting to be more confident and actually implement daily tactics to make that become a reality.

How on earth do we do that???

There are several strategies out there, but the one I’d like to focus on first – one that has worked best for me, and is easiest to explain – is that of monitoring our thoughts and actively replacing the words we use to speak to ourselves.  I know what you’re all thinking – daily affirmations, Stewart Smalley (yeah, I know, you don’t know who that is, just click the friggin link!), etc. etc.  This is more than that.  I believe it can be helpful to look in the mirror and repeat daily affirmations to ourselves, but I think it’s even more beneficial to catch ourselves in our daily self-talk and start actively discarding things we’re used to saying to ourselves, and replacing them with more positive, realistic words.

Here’s a quick five-step process for accomplishing that:

1) Acknowledge the unhelpful thought
2) Write it down
3) Discard it
4) Replace it
5) Move on

An example, perhaps?  Let’s do it.

1) Acknowledge it

I’ll continue my efforts to be candid and provide you an example from work this week.  I was going about my daily tasks, when I caught myself in a thought spiral that went something like this:

“My boss is probably tired of seeing me take work breaks.  She probably thinks I never work, and soon she’s going to walk over here and tell me she needs to talk to me about something and then tell me they have to fire me because I’m not being compliant to company expectations.”

2) Write it down

It’s funny, I think these kinds of things fairly often, but now that I’ve written it down, I can see so clearly how ridiculous these thoughts are!  And no less because I only take 2 breaks a day, and I have the most wonderful, supportive boss right now.

For some reason when these thoughts are in your head, they feel so real, and upsetting.  But once you bring them into the real, physical world it’s very easy to to determine that they are not worth dwelling on.  So write it down.

3) Discard it

So now that I’ve identified an unrealistic, upsetting thought, I can get rid of it.  I discard it easily after writing it down because writing it down has enabled me to determine that it’s not realistic and not worth dwelling on.

4) Replace it

Now I need something to replace it with (there may be times when discarding it is enough to alter the habit – use your best judgement).  So I say to myself:

“That’s a funny thing to think – I’m a very good employee and I always work hard.”

5) Move on

At this point in this situation, I typically just go back to work and try to find something else to think about that is not related – often fighting the words you caught yourself saying tooth and nail can actually cause more distress.  Again, use your judgement, but oftentimes it’s simply best to get to Step 5 sooner than later.

So….now it’s your turn!  I’d love to hear some of the thoughts you catch yourself thinking that are unhelpful – you’d be surprised how many other girls are running the exact same scripts through their heads on a daily basis!  It’s okay if you’re not comfortable sharing, but I think it helps us all feel more connected to each other to know how alike we really are on the inside.

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Action

  1. Pingback: Humility and Insecurity Are Not the Same Thing | RealGirls

  2. Pingback: Changing Habits: All It Takes Is An Orange | RealGirls

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