Your words are incredibly powerful. If you’re constantly saying things like “I can’t do it” or “I’ll never get my career to where I want,” you may be sabotaging your future. The way you speak about yourself is what you’re projecting into the world. Your subconscious interprets what it hears very literally; therefore, your mind and body genuinely follow the words you say aloud. Talking down to yourself can completely undermine your authority and confidence.
We all have the power to rewire our brains, but it takes time, effort, and intention. I remember a time mid-career when I was leveling up into a leadership role. On paper, I looked like the perfect person for the job, but I had all kinds of imposter syndrome and negative self-talk, wondering if this would be the time that I fail. There was a quote that stuck with me, “What if I fail? But, oh my darling, what if you fly?”. I realized I needed to talk confidently to myself and believe in achieving a good outcome rather than failing.
Once I began monitoring the way I talked to myself, I became very conscious of how I was approaching my tech career. I stopped saying, “I’ll never be able to accomplish XYZ,” and started confronting issues with, “Okay, how else can I handle this? What am I in control of? What can I do starting today to create a better future tomorrow?”
The way you talk about yourself now directly impacts what your future looks like. It’s time to rewire your brain and change the trajectory of your thought patterns into positive ones.
1: Present Yourself With Confidence
When I was leveling up into my first leadership position and feeling the imposter syndrome, I watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on how an expansive power pose can help give us confidence. The idea is that there is an actual physical response to taking up more space and that assuming a power pose for two minutes leads to hormonal changes that can reconfigure the brain in ways that make you more assertive.
The way you hold yourself physically matters and resonates with the brain. When you enter a room, walk in confidently. Before you attend a meeting that you’re nervous about, try applying an expansive power stance for a few minutes. Stand tall, stick your chest out, and put your hands on your hips. Maybe even smile. It may feel silly at first, but I promise you’ll start to notice a shift in the way you feel. I’ve used this technique often, and over time genuinely noticed a physical and mental boost of confidence.
2: Speak with Intention
Often women in tech tend to downplay their ideas or hedge them in some way. We pepper our sentences with phrases like “I think…” or “this is just an idea…” or we use filler words like “um.” It’s time to start speaking with conviction. When we are intentional with our words, it displays confidence and authority. Assume everyone in the room cares about what you have to say. At your next meeting or during your next interview, remember how much power your words hold.
3: Focus on What You Can Do
Stop focusing on what you can’t do or what’s out of your control. Listen, we all do this – it’s human! It can especially be hard for women because we tend to worry about others around us and things out of our control. But rather than focus on what we can’t control, let’s shift the focus to what we can. We can control how we talk to ourselves; we can control the way we tackle our future. We will face unexpected obstacles – that’s just a part of life – but what matters is how we react to them and decide to persevere.
4: Stop Trying, Start Doing
Commit to your career and yourself. Be conscious of the way you tackle issues, projects, and ideas. Instead of saying, “I’ll try to get it done,” tell yourself, “I will get this done, and it will be great.” It’s easier said than done, of course, but try to catch yourself when you find that you’re falling back into old thought patterns. Instead of letting your mind run with the same old negative thoughts, stop yourself and redirect your brain into positive and assertive thought patterns. It will take some time and might feel weird at first, but the repetition will eventually lead to a shift in the way your mind approaches opportunities.
5: Don’t Limit Yourself
It’s good to set deadlines for yourself and your career. It keeps you motivated. However, it’s essential to make sure these deadlines aren’t limiting you. For example, if you’re setting a deadline and telling yourself, “If I don’t reach my goals by this age, I’ll never be successful.” – you’re holding yourself back. Make sure the goals you set aren’t limiting how you approach your career and future.
This isn’t something you learn once and then have perfected. This kind of practice is something you’re going to have to work on daily – it’s something I myself continue to do to this day! I talk more in-depth on this topic in my best-selling book, The DevelopHer Playbook. We have to continuously be mindful and aware of how we speak to ourselves and about our futures. On the especially challenging days, I like to say, if you wouldn’t talk this way to your best friend, then why say it to yourself?
If you’re looking for a great way to hold yourself accountable to better self-talk, check out DevelopHer’s group coaching sessions. DevelopHer members meet monthly to discuss their progress, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable to our goals and aspirations.
You hold so much power simply from the words that you use. So, how are you going to direct that power?