Just today I received an email from a woman, with no other requests for information, just one line that said…
I’m camera shy and need to get over it…
I have no idea whether this woman wants to book a photo shoot or have a chat, we’ll see how she responds to my email offering both.
But this is not unique to this individual woman. SO many of my clients, past and future, can relate to the sentiment of that very short email I received.
I can relate to it too!
You see, the problem is…
we’ve been feeding our Self-Criticism for so long, over so many years and in doing so we’ve starved our Self-Confidence.
Self Criticism and Self Confidence – The Two Wolves
There’s that story of an American Indian woman (or perhaps it’s a South American woman) who tells her grandson about the two wolves we all have inside us.
She explains to the little boy that one wolf is angry, scary, jealous, mean and critical. The other wolf is kind, loving, supportive, virtuous and confident. These wolves live side by side all day every day, battling it out. The little boy asks which wolf will win, and the grandmother says “Whichever one you feed.”
So we can understand then that if we experience life from a place of fear and self doubt, we know we’re feeding our self-criticism. And if we’re experiencing life as a wonderful, joyride, we’re feeding our self-confidence.
A Common Theme Among Women
This has been a theme common to most of the women I’ve photographed over the years. It doesn’t matter the age, race, chapter of their lives or where in their journey of business success they are. They are where they are, and they’re experiencing what they’re experiencing because of the wolf they’re feeding most. The wolf they habitually feed.
It took me until my mid-thirties to realise how well I’d been feeding my Self-Criticism wolf and how I’d been starving my Self-Confidence wolf. With that awareness though, I’ve been able to, with practice, regain some balance. Sure I still have days where the Self-Criticism wolf steals the spoils, but my reaction time is much quicker now and I’m able to step in, and redirect my energy. I’ve found this practice is made that much easier because I’m given frequent opportunity to observe this same behaviour in other women, and I truly want to help them re-do their ‘feeding patterns’. It serves as a clear reminder to do it for myself, and that it is in fact possible to do in the first place.
Jacqui’s Personal Branding Shoot
Earlier this year I gave a talk about the importance of Personal Branding. It was a talk aimed at female solopreneur creatives like me, giving them advice and permission to become more visible in the online space. Of course I know MANY female solopreneurs shy away from this because that self-criticism wolf is snarling and foaming at the mouth at the thought of actually sharing photos and videos of themselves. I know this, because it’s what I hear all the time.
After my talk, a gorgeous woman – Jacqui, came up to me and said that she doesn’t know why, but she feels called to book a Personal Branding shoot. She didn’t know what she would use the photos for yet, but she needed to take this step for herself.
A few weeks later once we’d firmed up the details of the shoot, we sat down to chat more deeply about what Jacqui hoped to get out of this photo shoot. As a mother to a young daughter, I knew this shoot would be significant for her and the young lady she’s being an example for. You see, I believe the strength of our inner wolves is carried on from generation to generation. How our mothers fed her wolves will impact how we feed ours. So this shoot was not just for Jacqui, and her business, it was for her daughter too. All the businesses we create as solopreneurs will form part of the legacy we leave behind and given that, as women, we are so personally invested in our businesses, our legacy runs more deeply.
The day of the shoot came and Jacqui was admittedly nervous, but she smiled all the way through the session and had a good time. My ears did note the occasional self-criticism and I did as I always do – sincerely intend for her to know that she’s beautiful (as I’m sure you’ll agree!) and guided her to feed the ‘other wolf’.
Thankfully, Jacqui respected herself enough to embrace the process!
It’s a Journey
We’re all on our own journey and I’ve been doing this long enough to know that the journey to feeding our Self-Confidence more than our Self-Criticism may take longer for some than for others.
But what I do no for sure, like anything in life, it’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
I’ve also been doing this long enough to see the transformation happen as a result of the Personal Branding Shoot experience and the resulting photos. From now on, each time Jacqui looks at her photos, whether it’s while she’s updating her profile, her website or sending a proposal to a client, she’ll be feeding that Self-Confidence wolf a little extra morsel, and over time, that’ll have massive, compounding impact!
So I hope you’ll take some time before the start of the new year to reflect on which wolf you’ve been feeding up until now, and which one you’ll choose to feed in 2020 and beyond.
Which will you be feeding in 2020? Self Criticism or Self Confidence?