Fixing the underestimation factor

women career DXC Blogs

So ladies and gents, this blog is going to be a bit more serious.

After my last blog, I received feedback about how we ladies keep putting ourselves down and are missing out because of it. I understand our busy jobs may not allow time to work with a mentor — or some of you may not have access to one — so I wanted to share some tips to give yourself a confidence boost.

First, identify if you’re underestimating yourself. Have a real word with yourself. Do you:

  • Constantly compare yourself to others.
  • Over-prioritize the opinions of others
  • Stick around with the wrong crowd.
  • Not believe in yourself.

(This list offers 7 signs you’re underestimating yourself. I didn’t agree with some of them, so I left them out.)

Guilty? Yeah me too.

I do three out of the four I’ve bulleted — and you know what? It makes me miserable.

Two in particular put me in a demonic spiral. While I actively hunt out people who will support me and make me better, I then compare myself to people much more experienced and “successful” than me — back to feeling rubbish.

While most people who know me would describe me as “confident” and “outspoken,” I’ll be honest with you, readers: It’s a front. I am confident in my knowledge and facts, but I severely underestimate myself in terms of my ability. Still, I don’t let this stop me because I am constantly on a quest of proving things (people who’ve doubted me, even myself) wrong.

So how do I deal with underestimation, and stop falling victim to my own brain? I seriously have a word with myself — out loud. (I know, bring in the nice guys in white lab coats; I talk to myself.) But while it might sound silly, I find it’s important to catch yourself putting yourself down and put a stop to it.

I will look at myself in the mirror and ask what evidence I have to support my feelings of “can’t do this, can’t do that.”  Honestly, can’t is usually “wont.” Then I try to remember, all the good stuff I’ve done, all the times I was proud, the times someone told me I’ve done well (especially if it’s someone I look up to!). I tell myself, “You’ve got this.”

As I mentioned in my previous blog, women do amazing things. We negotiate with contrary children, we take control in potential disasters (“Don’t touch the stove!”), we run companies, we write laws, we argue cases, we conduct groundbreaking research — and many of us walk around for 8 hours a day in high heels (flats for me, all the way!). We can do anything!

At a particularly low point in my life — I almost dropped out of university because I felt useless and kind of low — my dad gave me a task. “Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and identify 3 things you did well yesterday, and three things you will do well today,” he said. Well, give it a go!

Ready for more some more tips:

This one is obvious: Stop comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, right? I’ve found that the easiest way to stop comparing yourself to others is to compare you to you … yesterday’s, last week’s or last year’s version. I know, anticlimactic, but we need to stop looking at how far we have to go for our “perfect” life and look at how far we’ve come and what we’ve earned.

The grass is always greener, as they say. That person you aspire to be with all the money, expensive car, mansion, husband, two angel children who are never out of line probably has her own problems and is looking at someone else in the exact same – remember that. To someone else, you’re probably that perfect person who has it all.

Another one we all know – look after yourself. Eat well and exercise. I eat a pretty clean diet and find that when my diet changes, I feel sluggish, grumpy, short-tempered and tired. This whole “you are what you eat” thing definitely has something behind it. Don’t worry if you’re busy; there are plenty of  healthy slow cooker and freezable meals you can whip up.

As for the other “e” word, remember exercise doesn’t have to be a grueling jog to the shop to buy a bitter kale smoothie followed by a sprint home. Exercise is: walking the dog (or kids!), pushing a pram up a hill, going dancing in town (without drinking too many empty carbs!). I have a smartwatch that tracks my steps – I do 10 000 a day and it really helps me clear my head. Try practising mindfulness. Meditate (kids do sleep sometimes right?). Do yoga or breathing exercises. Whatever works for you.

Then, look at your successes and take as much credit for them as you do your failures. Remember, you only truly fail when you give up. So look at a mistake or a setback, not as a failure, but as success in finding a way that didn’t work. Chalk it up to experience (+10 points)!

Building up confidence takes time, and if you’re like me it only takes one mistake or one negative comment to put a huge damp sponge on your newfound confidence, but don’t give up. We’re worth it!

Feel free to comment advise/suggestions below on how you stop underestimating yourself/keep your confidence sky high! I’d love to hear them!

RELATED LINKS

Women (not) in leadership: The underestimation factor

Are women leaders the mothers of transformation?

What women in IT can learn from Shakespeare

Comments

  1. alberttrotter says:

    i have two problems that i underestimate my self and second is that i believe people too early..and yet your advises are for women but i guess it will do something productive for me too

    Like

    • Cathartic says:

      Hi,
      Underestimation is tough I’m glad this article found some use to you as well. Advice is gender neutral and I fully appreciate support from male readers as well! I think you guys have a different problem; because in general men don’t like to talk about if they underestimate themselves or feel they need help whereas women (usually) do.
      As for believing people too early – I am a skeptic and sometimes it upsets people. I wish I could believe people easier and have more faith in others. I guess both sides have their pro’s and cons 🙂 Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more about what I found while researching this article 🙂

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. […] Overton, a data scientist here at DXC Technology, reached out to me after my last blog to talk about when we women underestimate ourselves. He felt there were a lot of external factors […]

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  2. […] Fixing the underestimation factor […]

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  3. […] Fixing the underestimation factor […]

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