Learning to love herself wasn’t an easy path for Nicola. She spent years in a chasm of self-doubt, feeling that she was alone in that void. Today, she’s discovered the power of embracing yourself and cherishing your self-worth, and her passion is to spread that message far and wide
‘This is me.’
Three words which have been the most important I have ever communicated. Why? Because they meant I had overcome a disease that paralysed me for years, and manifested in a side-effect called ‘self-doubt’. I believe many of us are either suffering as I did, or are in recovery from ‘I am not enough syndrome’.
In June 2018, I shared my own breakthrough story of self-worth at a conference, and introduced delegates to a tool I use to challenge the perception of the truth we have around self-belief. I was dressed in bright pink, and I depicted my story by using sign language to sign The Greatest Showman’s ‘This Is Me’. It was terrifying, yet liberating at the same time.
I danced with the comparison gremlin for years, lying awake at night feeling like I couldn’t carry on with certain aspects of my life because I didn’t make the grade, and would be judged or criticised. I used to gaze out of the window, wondering how life could be different.
Do you speak to yourself like someone you love? I know I didn’t. I felt I was useless, needed to fade into the background, made choices based on what others wanted, and had no real purpose in life.
May 2014 was the first time I admitted out loud that I had ‘I’m not enough syndrome’. Someone posed the question: “If you could say anything to the universe with no consequences, what would it be?”
It felt like I was ripping open my chest and exposing my heart. I felt incredibly vulnerable, because this was the first time in my life where I felt I could acknowledge it, and say: “I’m not enough.”
What I know now, and wish I knew then, was that so many of us say this phrase – perhaps not out loud or to others, but we all say it.
I was done with dressing all in black, hiding in the background and doing things in life solely because that’s what I felt people wanted me to do. I was done with letting other people’s successes determine what I should strive for, and berating myself when my own life journey offered something different.
My a-ha moment was realising that I had a choice.
Self-doubt is a choice. We can choose to wallow in these feelings, or let them go. And I chose to let it go. I wanted to be proud of my existence, to set myself free from this self-doubt, disconnection and lack of self-love.
Suddenly there was a whole new world to explore.
While out walking with my husband and Marley, my cocker spaniel, I became aware that my dog was teaching me a valuable lesson in the ‘spaniel perspective’. He was looking around, not down, living in the moment and not worrying about how other people viewed him. He was simply energised, mindful and free.
My friends started commenting on how much I had blossomed, even wearing colour – a big thing for me. I had always felt safe in black, blending into the background. Now I found myself starting to connect more with people. I felt confident. It was quite a transition.
I realised that for a long time I was holding back from doing the things I wanted to for fear of them not being enough. When I let go of the comparison gremlin in my head, I started to enjoy and embrace my own journey. It felt so empowering.
I launched Enkindle Life Coaching four years ago. Enkindle means to ‘make luminous and glowing’ and captures the essence of what I believe. It meant I could help others like me, to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values, channel their inner confidence, and feel happy in their own skin.
I also started researching into how a lack of self-worth manifests in us.
Every 60 seconds on Facebook, more than 510,000 comments are posted, and 300,000 statuses are updated. In the chaos of the modern world, social media can play an integral part in our increased vulnerability as we all strive to keep moving the goalposts of what success looks like, and hold up the facade that we are happy in every waking moment.
Now I use social media in a different way, to share positivity. In 2016, I launched the Happy to be ME hub – an online Facebook community where people can share what’s made them smile, and how they can channel self-worth as a lifestyle, not a luxury. It has fostered a culture where everyone supports and champions each other to be their authentic selves. I believe that if we connect with the present and change the perspective of comparison, we can make a difference. We can encourage and inspire our generation and beyond.
Over the past four years, I’ve learnt we shouldn’t let anyone, or social media, define us. You are an individual, with your own journey in life, and your own choices to make. Only you can empower yourself and give yourself permission to embrace compassion, and appreciate your own qualities, letting go of self-doubt and comparison.
I believe one of the best ways to do this is through gratitude. Part of my life purpose is to encourage as many people as possible to channel gratitude, and foster a positive mindset that contributes to mental and physical wellbeing. I engage in regular gratitude practices, and go to bed with a ‘ta-dah’ list, not a to-do list – celebrating what’s made me smile that day, and what I’ve achieved.
Practising mindfulness is also something that helps to settle my mind, and allows me to notice the amazing tapestry of the world that surrounds me.
Ultimately, I now know that I matter. I am only one person, yet my behaviour and interactions can cause a cascade of love and warmth across the people I engage with, and help others to understand that self-worth is a lifestyle, not a luxury.
So will you join me and stand up, shine bright and know your worth?
Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr, Life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation
Nicola’s story highlights something that will resonate with many of us – the unspoken assumption that we aren’t good enough. Nicola realised that the person who was actually telling her that, was herself, and that in reality, she had a choice about how she felt. From there on in, her life changed from doubt and disconnection, to positivity and possibility. There is so much to gain and share when we ditch the negativity, and choose to become our own best friend!