One of the greatest challenges women struggle with both as employees and as leaders is the need to please, and fear of not being liked. Women are often culturally trained from a young age to make everyone happy, keep peace, and to put other’s needs before our own.
Outdated beliefs of women that hold us back and how to shift them:
1. Serve others at the cost of ourselves.
When we serve others from a place of losing ourselves in the mix, we are being “selfless”, which has been applauded for women our whole lives. This type of service to others creates a burnt out, resentful, powerless woman. We need to reframe this idea that we should be giving to others regardless of what our own needs and desires. Instead include yourselves in the serving and giving. We need to also know what we feel inspired to offer, so that we don’t simply give to others for the sole purpose of being liked. Serving effectively requires a strong foundation. Protect your own core needs, and give beyond that.
In our service to others, we must include ourselves. We can then serve others from a place of fullness rather than depletion.
2. Making people happy is my number one priority.
When we focus on other people’s happiness as our main goal, we make decisions from a place of inferiority and inauthenticity. Unfortunately because we cannot make other people happy all the time, we constantly fail in this mission causing us to lose our own desires and confidence along the way.
Happiness in an inside job. It is not my job to make others happy, it is only my job to create my own happiness.
3. It is important that everyone likes me.
This can be a difficult perspective to shift. Recognizing that not everyone will like us is a hard truth for many women. We all naturally want to be validated, admired, and well liked. Once we can let go of this need for approval from others, we are free to become ourselves and stand in our power. When we make choices based on our own beliefs, desires, and opinions, some people will disagree or dislike us. Strong women stand in their positions regardless of what others think.
We need to do what is right for us and the organization, not make choices based on being liked. It is important that I like me.
4. If I set a boundary, say no, or disagree, I will upset people.
Boundaries are hard. Saying no is hard. Going against the crowd is hard. Doing what is hard, regardless of other’s reactions, often prevents a more difficult situation later. Setting a boundary, saying no, or disagreeing with someone is much easier when we have a clear idea about what matters to us, and what we believe. What are the non-negotiables that we stick to? What truths do we find convincing and consistent? What beliefs do we have that are unwavering? Knowing who you are and what you believe makes setting boundaries a lot easier.
The short term pain of holding our power in difficult situations is far easier than living a life of regret or out of alignment with ourselves. Some people will be upset, but the right people will still respect and like us.
5. I need to be perfect.
Many of us struggle with the need for perfection. We can get so caught up in the need for everything to be perfect that we are paralyzed in place, and stop generating any forward movement. Consistency and steady progress is going to always propel us further than holding ourselves back as we wait to perform perfectly. Perfectionism is really just fear wrapped in a different cover and the only way to conquer fear is action.
When we acknowledge perfectionism as a fear-based protection, we can act and move through it and create less-than- perfect though still really effective results.
6. It is my job to prevent conflict and keep peace.
Many women end up in the role of peacekeeper, making sure that we don’t do anything that creates conflict. We need to get comfortable with healthy disagreement, working through conflict, and recognizing that sometimes keeping peace is a quiet way that we silences ourselves. When we avoid conflict to keep peace we start a war within ourselves.
Our job as women is not to bite our tongues in order to keep peace. We can learn to embrace healthy conflict.
7. If I am too successful other women will be jealous and not like me.
Yep, this can happen, and has nothing to do with us when someone else is jealous of our success. One of the ways we hold all women back is by holding ourselves back. We need to get comfortable shining brightly, stepping up into the greatest version of ourselves, and stop comparing ourselves to other women. Success is not a zero sum game. Celebrate other women’s success and keep looking forward as we ourselves grow and accomplish great things. Recognize jealousy as an internal conflict contained within an individual who feels that they want what you have achieved. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Keep shining yourself, and support others as they succeed. If you are feeling jealous of someone else’s success this may be a glaring indication that you have untapped, unrecognized potential. Start working to realize your own success, by examining why someone else was promoted and learn from their achievement. Every woman’s success can be a positive catalyst to help other women fully stepping into their power. There is room for all of us at the top!
We cannot allow jealousy to stop us from shining brightly!
8. I can do it all myself.
As women it is easy to want to prove we can do it all, and do it all by ourselves, but the truth is, the more we ask for support from others, the more we can become. We can’t do life alone, and we cannot step up into the best version of ourselves without other people. So while there is a place for self-sufficiency, it is also a good habit to learn how to delegate, and ask for support, mentorship or guidance along the way. Support other women, and don’t let a big ego suppress your ability to ask for support from others.
When women support each other we go a lot further than if we did it alone.
It is important to recognize that these outdated behaviors hold us back, and keep us feeling powerless, fearful, invisible, and weak. It’s time we let these go, take hold of our power, and learn new skills that put us in the driver’s seat of our career and lives. As we begin to shift these beliefs, and start shifting into more empowered ones, we not only make space for ourselves, but we begin opening that space for all women.
About the Author — Brandi McGoldrick has been in leadership for two decades, with a focus primarily on women as they build their careers and grow into leaders. She started her career in sales and then expanded into training, sales management, sales support, new product development, and developed several multi-million dollar sales and customer fulfillment teams. She’s hired, trained, managed and mentored countless women into award winning leaders throughout her career. She is currently a freelance consultant, writer, and mentor to women in leadership. She lives in Kane County, IL with her husband and two children.