Have you ever felt you were your own worst enemy? Do you ever feel that you are holding yourself back? Are there times that you look back on a meeting and wish you had said what you wanted to or had the impact you know you are capable of?


As a psychologist, I am fascinated about our minds. Whilst they are wonderful things, the thoughts that we have and the stories we tell ourselves can be either hugely constructive to us fulfilling our potential or can become inhibiting to our growth. This negative narrative is not helpful, but it is entirely natural; it is our mind’s way of keeping us safe, holding us back from experiencing failure.


Do you ever find yourself thinking: “I’m not good enough to do that”, “I’ll get found out”, “who do I think I am?”, “people will wonder why I’m doing it” or similar thoughts?

We fall into habitual thinking and our brains get used to always looking out for risks and finding the negative, but it means that we hold ourselves back and decrease our confidence. There is a way to reverse this and harness our inner strength, make decisions with more clarity and seize opportunities.


I like to describe it as strengthening muscles in your brain. We all know if we go to the gym and work a muscle in the body it gets stronger and easier to use.

In the same way, if we think in a different way about ourselves, over time this becomes the muscle that we activate with ease in our brains. We can move from thoughts such as “I can’t do this” to “what are the strengths I have here and how can I best use them?”.


From “people will question what value I add” to “people will see me as someone who has something valuable to add here”.


From “I’ll fall on my face” to “I’ll give it a go and am bound to learn something”.


This is about seeing the opportunity rather than the risk; thinking of what you have to offer rather than what you might do wrong. In doing so regularly, over time it will become natural and you will move towards confidence and fulfilment.


Ask yourself one of these questions whenever you notice self-doubt or criticism:


  • What are my strengths and how can I use them in this situation?
  • What positive impact can I have here?
  • What are the opportunities here for me?
  • What is the 10% positive in this situation?
  • What learning is there here for me?


This article was written by career coach, Katrina Howells.