I’ve lost my confidence: ask the expert

I have been at home looking after my children for the past 10 years. In the last year, I discovered my husband was having an affair and we have separated. I now find myself with no up-to-date skills and two children to support. My confidence is very low. How do I begin to rebuild it both personally and professionally?

I am so sorry to hear that you have obviously been going through a very tough time. To start with, it will greatly help you if you can put going back to work in a positive light. At the moment, it must feel quite daunting, but try to focus on the positive things going to work will bring to your life, for example, meeting new people, something for you, learning new skills.

It will also help if you can identify doing something that you will enjoy and matches your natural abilities as well as the skills you undoubtedly still have, albeit that you haven’t consciously been employing for some years.

I highly recommend that you think very deeply about what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. Many of us find this very difficult at first, so think about asking someone you know well to help you as they will probably be a lot more generous that you will be on yourself at first! When I say ‘what you’re good at’ and ‘what you enjoy doing’ I don’t just mean IT skills, book-keeping, marketing etc, I mean empathy, organisation, prioritising, keeping calm under pressure, working in a team.

And this brings me on to the copious skills that you are amazing at already simply by having been a mum for 10 years. And believe me, these are multiple and very transferable! For example, organisational skills, diplomacy, prioritising, deep empathy, caring, nurturing other people, negotiating, motivating (think of those days when they just don’t want to go to school!), teamwork (think of those play dates and days out, or school events you’ve organised with other mums), and resilience. All these things are relevant and are examples of you using natural skills that are extremely important in the work place.

So, to help with confidence, make sure you aim for a job that you will enjoy and that you will be good at. Secondly, write down and keep remembering all the things you are already brilliant at. Aim high and don’t sell yourself short.

And lastly, listen out for that negative voice in your head that tries to sabotage all good, positive feelings by telling you you can’t do it, or that you’re no good. We all have one! Remember, what it says is not true, and you must listen more attentively to that other voice that is so often drowned out, that you are great, and you CAN do it.



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