Confidence is a strange beast during menopause. Sometimes I can take on the world. Others, I’m lucky to overcome the battle with my jeans (lockdown is not good for the waistline).
A loss of confidence and self-esteem is a common menopause symptom and one I know well. For me, it showed itself most at work, where I turned down a promotion as I felt I couldn’t take the stress. The post involved a lot less responsibility than several other positions I’ve held in the past, but that nagging voice was there, telling me I wasn’t as good as I thought.
It’s not just me, neither. Several women in my menopause group say they’ve experienced the same – worries around driving is commonly spoken about – while some of the country’s top female celebrities have said how menopause hit their self-confidence. Speaking recently, DJ Jo Whiley, for example, said: “You lose your sense of self. You’ve accomplished so much and you start to think: ‘Okay, what’s next?’”
There is the menopause buzz to look forward to, when many women say they feel more confident and better than ever. Until then, here’s how you can boost your confidence in menopause…
Give yourself a pat on the back
When your confidence is low, it’s easy to see little value in what you do – especially in today’s influencer world, when social media is filled with images of alphabetically-arranged crisp packets and colour-coordinated Lego drawers.
But there are lots of small successes that we do each day without realising it and by focusing on them, we can change our thought patterns and help our confidence.
So at the end of the day, list three things that you’ve done that were positive. It can be a good email at work, you made dinner, took time to exercise, made someone smile, thanked someone…
And if you got out of bed when you felt like hiding under your pillows, that’s a major achievement.
Go for it
Whenever I’ve done something major – moved cities, countries, jobs, for example – my mam has always said: “Well, if it all goes wrong, you can always just come home.”
At first glance, it looks quite negative, but actually, it’s given me the strength I’ve needed because what’s the worst that could happen? I’d have to go home. No big deal.
A lack of confidence can stop us taking action for fear of what might go wrong, which can then turn into a vicious cycle as you feel angry or disappointed with yourself and take that as a sign of how useless you are.
I’ve found, however, that even when things go wrong, the end results are never as catastrophic as my imagination wanted to make them, certainly never bad enough to go back to my mam’s. Most times, it’s worked out okay – usually really good, in fact – and that’s given me the confidence to try something else.
The things I regret are the things I’ve never done, not the things that have gone wrong.
Next time you’re worried or doubtful about doing something, think about previous things you’ve done something that made you worried or doubtful and how they turned out. I bet they were okay in the end and if they weren’t, you have the knowledge now to make it better.
It’s not about you
When you go out, what are you thinking? Me, it’s usually: “Is my knicker line showing? God, they look gorgeous – wish I looked like that. My hair is far too short. Oooh, that was such a good point they made. Why did I say that? They must think I’m so thick.”
My thoughts are usually on me, feeling uncomfortable and very aware of how cool everyone else is. But I’m not alone – for the vast majority of us, our thoughts are on ourselves and our own concerns. Research has even shown that most people are talking about themselves (or you’re both talking about someone else)!
The main person judging me when I’m out – is me! And no one is harsher.
We will never know the thoughts going through another person’s mind unless they tell us. However, they’re probably not thinking about us as much as we’re thinking about us so be confident that whatever you do, it probably won’t figure that much in their lives.
So head up, gorgeous, and hold your head high.
Don’t take it personally
Now of course, that’s not to say people won’t judge at times. People are people, after all, and most have an opinion about something.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re right.
A good friend told me recently: “Only care about what your friends and family think about you and don’t give a damn about anyone else.”
It is your family and friends who know you best and know how you truly are.
That research above also showed that people tend to judge based on their own thoughts and experiences so if they say something hurtful, it is quite often a reflection on their own lives and expectations rather than you.
But if what they say is true, then think how you can make it better if needed. It’s okay to make mistakes, it is how we deal with it that counts.
Say thank you to compliments
“Oh, this old thing? I’ve had it for ages…”
How many of us have answered a compliment by putting ourselves down? Why do we do this? It’s so disrepectful to the person giving us the compliment, for a start. We’re telling them they’re wrong to have praised us.
Not only that, but by downplaying our achievements or our appearance or whatever, we tell the world – and our subconscious – that we’re not worthy of praise even when we are. Eventually, your brain will think that’s true.
Accepting a compliment is a message to ourselves that we are good enough as we are. It’s a reminder that what we’ve done matters to someone and that they care enough to mention it.
So next time someone compliments you, simply say: “Thank you” and smile.
Set small goals
When I was younger, I became obsessed with Michael Crawford’s Barnum and one song in particular comes back to me a lot: One Brick at a Time.
Barnum has set himself the goal of building the biggest and best circus in the world, but is feeling overwhelmed. So his plainspeaking wife Chairy – trust a woman to have the answer! – sits him down and tells him to break the problem up.
“To build a tower up so high to a cloud you’ll anchor
Build it one tiny brick at a time.”
Menopause can turn even the smallest task into a major event, but if we follow Chairy and break it down into small goals then we can overcome it.
Each goal that is achieved will boost your self-esteem, helping you move onto the next one with confidence. And little by little, you’ve overcome the biggest task you’re facing.
And you can add it to your Three Things to be proud of!
What do you do to feel confident? I’d love to know. Leave me a message below