Even if you’ve been told you are amazing, remarkable, talented, and valued, you may still feel like your professional success is more about luck than talent. You may even worry that you’re not as clever, powerful, or confident as you appear. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for women to sabotage their success by allowing their negative self-talk to tarnish their confidence.

In fact, research conducted by psychotherapists over the years has found that successful women surprisingly suffer from high levels of self-doubt, thereby affecting their level of self-esteem. Whether it’s because we over analyze situations or question our innate talents, the results impact on our decision to ask for what we want and deserve.

I myself have personally witnessed successful female professionals held back by traps, both of their own making and placed on them by society.  These are the most common of them, and if you fall into any of these traps, it’s time to reframe negative self-talk and/or implement strategies for preventing these traps from interfering with your success.

The Superwoman Trap
Belief: You can be all things to everyone, in work and personal life.
Hallmarks: You’re proud of being a multitasker; you continually set new goals and standards, raising the bar daily for yourself. There’s no such word as “no” because you believe that you can do the impossible.
Price: Discontent, burn-out, irritability, and impatience.


The Good Girl Trap
Belief: If you are likable, you will avoid creating enemies and it makes you a more appealing person so others will help you.
Hallmarks: You apologize profusely, sometimes without even realizing you’re doing it, and you say “no problem” when you actually see things as a problem. You avoid or resist confrontation because you are concerned with not being liked or fitting in.
Price: Not being recognized for your leadership and strength. You don’t ask for what you want, don’t feel fulfilled and hold yourself back.


The Opinion Trap
Belief: If you voice your ideas as opinions, you are less likely to be criticized or confronted.
Hallmarks: You put yourself into a safe mode by stating information with less assertiveness, such as “It’s just my opinion.” “I’m not the expert, but…” You may even appear tentative or insecure about your own viewpoint.
Price: Others do not buy into your ideas because they don’t see you as confident nor do they seek you out for your advice. Consider using “I recommend” or “I believe,” or just be direct without vocabulary fillers.


The Perfectionist Trap
Belief: If you do everything with perfection, you will be recognized and valued.
Hallmarks: You have a hard time finishing a project because it’s never good enough. People find you difficult to please because perfectionists are very demanding.
Price: You hold yourself back from answering a question, applying for a new job, or asking for a raise until you are absolutely 100% sure you can predict the outcome.


The Imposter Trap
Belief: If you don’t take risks, be too visible or sign on for big challenges, you will never be criticized for not being as good as others first thought.
Hallmarks: You attribute your success to others, timing or just plain luck. You don’t want to be seen as a phony so you accept the status quo.
Price: Your resistance to owning your successes cause you to be anxious, frustrated, and insecure.


If any of these sound all too familiar to you, here’s advice to turn it around.

1. Learn to nurture and listen to your voice, not all of the “other” voices. Be aware of that negative voice talking to you and what it is saying.

2. Recognize that your inner critic is just a habit of your mind. Reframe your self-talk and you’ll feel energized and proud of your accomplishments.

3. Use positive affirmations. When you hear yourself saying “I can’t do anything right,” instantly change that into a positive affirmation to say “I’m doing the best I can, and it will turn out all right.”

4. Take risks. Be bold enough to overcome your fear of failure. Sitting on the sidelines is no way to spend your life.

5. Forgive yourself for not being perfect or not being able to be all things to all people.

6. Self promote. Use third-party testimonials if you have to (ie. “My boss has said that in the area of leadership, I ….”)

The old adage “fake it till you make it” might not feel comfortable. However, once you identify the traps you are now ready to dismiss, you can choose behaviors that allow others to see you as confident. Whether it’s choosing to project confident body language or using powerful language even at times of self-doubt, you will project the kind of strength that inspires others to see the best of who you are. So “faking it” is just about choosing to ignore those little voices that prevent you from owning your power. Last, the positive and uplifting messages you send to the brain will absolutely determine the output of your thoughts and success.

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