Meet and Beat Your Thinking Enemies-Women Behind The Network – Zoe Lewis

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As we enter the New Year, it’s a great time to consider which parts of your self-talk support and empower you and which hold you back.

I thought I’d share a few parts of my own self-talk that have tried to derail me over the years. Just take a look at the pictures that accompany this blog and you’ll see I’ve been on (and still am on) a journey to enable self-talk that empowers me. 

In this blog I aim to inspire you to challenge and derail any limiting self-talk you might have. Here I’ll share 3 of mine.

“I feel guilty”

My guilt has been in many areas of my life from family, to work commitments, to living the life I live. I have thought “I shouldn’t work away, it makes me a bad mum & I feel guilty about not being there for my kids”, or “I should not postpone this coaching session, even though something sad just happened to me, I feel guilty that I’m letting my client down” & “I shouldn’t separate from my husband, as it will make him unhappy”.

So, how do you stop the guilt?

I recognise it and I now challenge my unhelpful thinking.

Take for example, “I shouldn’t work away, it makes me a bad mum.”

There are so many assumptions in there, that when I unpick that thought…there’s no actual evidence to link the two statements – just very limiting self-talk, that I can change – based on facts or alternative thinking.

This thought re-designed now sounds like Ok, they don’t get me home once or twice a week, but what they get instead is almost every school holiday off with me. They get quality time as opposed to my misguided thinking of ‘time=love’. They have their lives and interests and I have mine; some intertwine and others are talking points when we’re together. In many ways they are more independent than many of their peers – and that’s a good thing!

My coaching tip here: The key to success is in managing the inner critic that tells you ‘You’re a rubbish parent’ or ‘You should be doing x, y, z with your kids’ – my go to phrase is ‘I’m doing just fine’.

I’m not good enough

So this, I guess, comes from a conversation I had over 10 years ago with a colleague with whom I shared that I could never run my own business as “I’m not good enough”. Her response was “You can do whatever you like Zoé” – I ran like the wind – she was way more confident than me and she had the audacity to tell me that I could do something, when what I was actually looking for were backers to support my insecurity campaign!

Have you ever been in that mode – you know that place – where it’s safer to believe you’re not good enough rather than run the risk of having a go and then being shame-faced if it doesn’t work out? 

Well, the fabulous Bréné Brown, author of “I thought it was just me”, “Daring Greatly” and many other best sellers, shares that we need “courage in the culture of shame”.

Don’t get me wrong I have had many scary moments; doubts, fears and failures, but like Bréné says in her book “Daring Greatly”…

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

My coaching tip here: Consider what it would take for you to step into the arena and be prepared to learn along the way. We are fallible human beings and that is okay. 

I couldn’t do that!

As you’ll see from my pictures I have battled with my weight and used to be a binge-eater. I’ve been on most diets;slimming world, weight watchers, slim fast, no carbs (lasted a day!) and like many people yo-yo dieted for years. 

At my heaviest I was 16stone 10lbs, needless to say, I was ashamed of my weight, but felt trapped, food was the only comfort – I thought no one knew, as it was all eaten behind closed doors, but clearly what’s eaten in private shows in public! I used to chunnel away the chocolate bars, cakes, batter mix, crisps, chips, etc. I could hide and comfort myself, I didn’t know any other way.

I knew it didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t see a way out. My lowest ebb was when I ordered a size 26 skirt for work – my manager had to sign my uniform request – I can still feel the burn in my cheeks as I recall that moment now – shame.

For me, this is still a work in progress journey. I have made significant progress in the past few years and I’ll share with you how I’ve done that, BUT the reality is that like my Brénéquote above – I’m in the arena – I have setbacks but the shift is in my perception of those setbacks and moving past them.

I gradually lost and gained weight over the following years and then made a decision 5 years ago to start on a non-stop journey, where I would accept the ups and downs but be kinder to myself and do stuff that I liked to help.

Here’s what I did

I went to watch my daughter learn to skate. I thought “I couldn’t do that” and found myself giving excuses of poorly hips as a child and a slipped disc, etc. 

Guess what? I challenged myself and for 3 weeks I fell over almost constantly and then gradually I learnt to roller skate – I now spend 2-3 hours every Saturday bopping my way around our local roller disco and I’m so glad I stepped in to the arena.

I went to the gym – I recall thinking “I can’t do that”  I had pre-conceived ideas that they’d all be fit gym bunnies and Ifound myself mentally comparing me and them. The reality was, no one cared, they were all on their own journey andnow if I see someone who is new in the gym, I always smile – in my eyes they’re already awesome for being in the arena!

I watched a Zumba session and I thought “that looks so much fun” but “I couldn’t do that” and then I Googled to find my local one – I went along and for the whole class (at the back) and felt like I just couldn’t get the moves. I went back week after week and gradually, I got the hang of it. A few weeks ago, the instructor was running late and we needed a volunteer to lead the warm up – I got up on that stage and threw myself into it! Even more awesome, my 15 year old daughter followed in my steps a few weeks later – what would I have role-modelled if I’d listened to my self-talk of “I couldn’t do that”?

I speak to my counsellor and he is helping me think about eating food without shame – that’s a new concept to me, I’m re-learning how to eat as an adult and I’ve stopped labelling myself as a binge-eater, as that’s in the past.

Guess what I learnt from the above?

“I could do that!”

So what’s next for me?

As I mentioned earlier, today sees the launch of my new business The Leadership Coaches – a team of fantastic leadership coaches who work alongside people of all levels in organisations and with individuals to help them achieve their unfulfilled goals.

I will continue to recognise and challenge my unhelpful thinking and turn my negative self-talk into empowering self-talk.

I’ve also discovered my joy of helping others through volunteering and making a difference where I can, so that will continue to feature heavily as I live my values.

So what’s next for you?

I hope that as you’ve read this, you’ve connected with your own self-talk. Your thoughts are so powerful, so as you move into 2020, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of taking back control of those unhelpful thoughts and feel empowered to be the awesome individual you are!

May 2020 be a wonderful year for you all!

Love and best wishes

Zoé x

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