Sunday night I had a huge first . . . I performed in an actual concert hall, with an orchestra, with a new conductor! How was I? So nervous! But my nervousness didn’t go in the direction of doubting myself, being critical of my appearance, wishing I had lost weight, or telling myself I shouldn’t have agreed to do it.
Those would all have been what I call girly thoughts—the way we learn as women to tear ourselves down, deplete our energy and focus, and in general sabotage ourselves in achieving our goals.
Now this wasn’t a solo performance; I was part of a seventy-person choir. But that fact wouldn’t have stopped me from doubting all aspects of my being as I tried something new, something out of my comfort zone. Professionally, I am a psychologist and a speaker; I have spoken solo to hundreds. But I’m not a singer. For me, singing was something more private, something I did to center myself, to soothe myself. Joining a choir with some professional singers and musicians was outside of my comfort zone, and that left an opening for those nasty girly thoughts. But I refused to listen to that toxic inner voice!
Yes, We All Doubt Ourselves, but It’s Different for Men than for Women
Of course it’s normal when we try something new to have doubts about how well we are going to do. But what I have realized is that nervousness about pushing yourself to a new limit doesn’t have to translate into doubting yourself for trying something new. Often, men are exhilarated by a new challenge, while women focus instead on how they will be judged for taking a new challenge as those girly thoughts creep in—but that doesn’t have to be true for you.
Want to Stretch Outside Your Comfort Zone?
- Use your women mentors. My choir director, a woman, believed in all of us. She worked us hard, helped us understand we could do this. I believed her.
- Focus on your skills, not your girly thoughts. I knew I knew the music. I focused on this, not on my hair, weight, clothes . . . all of which would have diverted my energy.
- Surrender to your passion. I asked myself how I got into this situation and then reminded myself I love to sing. It’s my passion, and my passion is worth an investment of my time and energy.
- Enjoy your daring. I am tickled that I actually did this! Today I’m saying: Yes, I can!
You are more than your doubts and your girly thoughts. You are your dreams; you are the product of your hard work. Push out those girly thoughts so you can enjoy your successes.
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.