Write 100 things you’re proud of yourself for — This requires some deep thought and stretching yourself outside your comfort zone. You’ll realize that you’ve got MUCH more than you thought to be proud of yourself for, and you’re so much more badass than you thought! And if you’re struggling to get there, remind yourself that there ARE 100 amazing things about you that you can be proud of, you just have to rediscover them which may take some time, especially if you’re accustomed to playing small or not wanting to appear arrogant. Don’t be afraid to brag on yourself, and be patient — you’ll get that pride list finished!
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Calley Hewes.
Calley Hewes is a nurse practitioner and self-care coach for female entrepreneurs and side hustlers. She is passionate about helping women discover and leverage their unique gifts and talents and create the ideal work-life blend so they can live a life that lights them up and run a profitable business without burning out. She serves women through the coaching business she co-founded, Brazen Coaching, and as co-host of The Brazen Podcast.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a very rural area of Vermont with my younger sister and parents, and I was a very introverted kid (and still am as an adult, although I’ve grown to accept it as part of who I am). I was always an overachiever both academically and athletically, but I still struggled quite a bit with confidence through my formative years as a perfectionist and people-pleaser. This is something that’s taken a lot of time to unlearn, and I’ve come to realize that perfectionism and people-pleasing are socially acceptable crutches for those of us who aren’t confident in who we are or what we are bringing to the table, and it’s so prevalent in my generation as a Millennial. That’s part of why I’m so passionate about what I do.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My grandmother was an ER nurse, and I grew up hearing her stories and seeing her passion for her work and community. She exhibited such skill, compassion, humor, and strong boundaries and that really appealed to me and really stuck with me through the years. Once I had continued my education and training and got my nurse practitioner credentials, I was heavily influenced by an amazing doctor who trained me, Dr. Milt Dupuy. He practiced with a heavy functional medicine and holistic influence which he instilled in me as well. I learned right from the beginning of my career as an NP how to work lifestyle and behavior change into all of my conversations with patients, and quickly fell in love with wellness counseling. Through the years I’ve specialized even further, and now I’m working primarily with female entrepreneurs to help them build a balanced life and sustainable business practices so they can fulfill their highest potential without burning out. I really didn’t anticipate ending up here, but I’m so glad I did. It feels amazing when you’re aligned with your purpose and passion.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, it wasn’t funny at the time but it is now that I’m looking back on it a decade later. When I was a relatively new nurse, I was training on a very busy and fast-paced unit. I was at the point in my training where I was trying to manage a full patient assignment (4 or 5 patients) on my own in the midst of admissions, discharges, and procedures. I was very clearly struggling to keep up, but I refused to ask for help. It was to the point of being comical each time a new thing piled on and I insisted “I got it!”
My preceptor, bless his heart, knew me well enough by then where he decided the only way I’d learn is if he let me drown a little. I remember so clearly that he asked several times if he could do anything to help, and I kept insisting that I was good (I’m sure I looked absolutely crazed). By the end of the shift, I was nearly in tears and barely able to hold it together. I broke down once I got to my car and raged about him to my mom on the phone while driving home. I felt like a total failure.
Now, years later, I see the massive gift he gave me that day. Whenever I feel like I’m trying to hustle to prove that I’m good enough or can handle anything, I think back to that horrible shift and remind myself the value of delegation and asking for help. I learned that asking for help is a sign of humility and intelligence — I know what I don’t know, or I know I’m only one person.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
One project that I’m currently working on and so excited about is my podcast, The Brazen Podcast. I’m co-hosting it with my business partner, and I love it because it’s such an amazing way to connect with the people who find value in what we’re doing while talking about our passions! It’s like getting advice from your big sister mixed with a casual chat with your bestie, and I’m honestly obsessed with it! It is designed to help anyone who is either running their own business full time, working a side hustle, or thinking about taking the leap and will give you really practical tips on how to boost your confidence, create better balance, boost your well-being, and build a profitable business all in one pretty package.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Believing in yourself is the most important attitude and mindset to cultivate if you want to feel fulfilled, no matter what you’re doing in life! It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a working professional, entrepreneur, or a combination of any of those — if you don’t believe in who you are as a person and what you’re bringing to the table, you’re not going to be living up to your potential and you won’t be fulfilled or satisfied in life. You’ll always feel compelled to play small, to not take the leap, to avoid risks, to not seize new opportunities which will leave you feeling restless, resentful, and defeated.
Think about how you would feel if there was an opportunity for a job promotion, but you didn’t apply because you figured you wouldn’t get it. Or you did apply but you resigned yourself to not getting it anyway. You’re sabotaging yourself, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You won’t get the job because you didn’t really put yourself out there. But then someone who isn’t as good a performer as you gets the job promotion. Now you feel bitter, resentful, and it reinforces your belief that it could never be you.
If you struggle with believing in yourself, that can change. You don’t have to live there forever!
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
Believing in yourself doesn’t mean that you get to skip out on all the hard work it takes to achieve your goals and dreams, but it gives you the motivation and perseverance to get through the hard parts. You’ll start practicing and give yourself the grace and patience you need to be pretty bad at something and then grow your skills. Then you’ll be able to get through the plateaus and setbacks because you know that it’s just part of the process, and you’ll stick with it to the point where you become an expert. But you can’t get there if you don’t start out believing that you can.
My only caveat or caution is that you should focus more on the values and intention (or purpose) that are driving your vision rather than pigeon-holing yourself into one specific outcome. As the old adage goes, be stubborn about the vision, and flexible about the methods. For instance, my intention in life is to help people as best I can. If I decided when I was 18 that the way I’d do that is by becoming an RN, I never would have gotten to where I am today. But because I learned to be flexible with how I helped people, I found my passion and have been able to create a lifestyle I absolutely adore and that fits me and my family perfectly.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
So many times! One of the most pronounced times of not believing in myself was as an NP before stepping into full-time entrepreneurship. My identity was so wrapped up in excelling and overachievement and being the go-to person in my circle that I really struggled with leaving my stable 9–5 job with benefits to be a coach and piece things together. When I would mention it to people, I’d get a strange look from most of them like, “why would you do that??” Because I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know what I was doing, or like I had made a massive mistake, or chance having to return to a clinic job if I failed, I delayed and postponed and put off the change until I my brain and body made the decision for me. Due to personal health issues, I was forced into the entrepreneurship path which was an extremely uncomfortable transition for me and it took a while to get my footing. But once I started doing the mindset and inner work I needed to do to let go of my perfectionistic tendencies, and need to please and appease, and need to be needed, I was able to see what amazing things were waiting on the other side of the chasm.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
I really came to the realization that I needed to build my confidence in myself when my husband and I realized that we needed to make some financial shifts to be able to pay our bills. I suppose my stubbornness was really a huge asset here, because I refused to accept that I’d need to go back to my old job or something similar. As a classic overachiever, you know I did all the research, listened to all the podcasts and read all the articles about how to become a successful entrepreneur (not recommended, by the way…). So I knew that I needed to play big and be strategic if I wanted to make this a viable option. So at that point, when I was faced with the options of deciding to actually go all-in or back out and return to the clinic with my tail between my legs, I chose to go all-in. And when I started going all-in, I started seeing results. I’m 100% convinced that people could sense the shift in my energy. And then it became a positive feedback loop — the more success I saw, the more confident I became and the more I believed I could do even more.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Write 100 things you’re proud of yourself for — This requires some deep thought and stretching yourself outside your comfort zone. You’ll realize that you’ve got MUCH more than you thought to be proud of yourself for, and you’re so much more badass than you thought! And if you’re struggling to get there, remind yourself that there ARE 100 amazing things about you that you can be proud of, you just have to rediscover them which may take some time, especially if you’re accustomed to playing small or not wanting to appear arrogant. Don’t be afraid to brag on yourself, and be patient — you’ll get that pride list finished!
2 . Affirmations morning and night — Affirmations help you to remind yourself of what you’re working toward and remind you about your positive attributes. For example, if you want to feel like you are confident in stating your firm and consistent boundaries, you might tell yourself morning and night, “I am confident in my boundaries. I know what I need for myself. I am unapologetic in stating my needs and boundaries. Those around me respect me for setting boundaries based on my needs.” The more you hear yourself declaring those truths, the more you’ll believe them and start to act accordingly. If that seems like too much right now, you can start with grounding affirmations. These are great for people who have a trauma background or are working through some big confidence deficits. If that’s you, you’ll want to focus on building your ability to affirm your present reality to build trust and confidence. Examples of grounding affirmations are “I am safe. I am allowed to make mistakes. I am allowed to try new things. I am loved.” Wherever you decide to start, write down a handful of statements that feel good to you and keep them by your bed to recite out loud morning and night.
3 . Write a bio for your future self — This exercise requires you to synthesize your dreams and reality and visualize how achieving your dreams and goals will look for you. In this exercise, you imagine that you’re a reporter writing a bio or article on yourself once you’ve achieved your goals. It really solidifies the realization that your dreams are achievable and doable in reality, not just in an abstract context. It may be very uncomfortable and far outside your comfort zone if you’ve struggled with abuse or trauma, but remind yourself that you’re safe and no one has to see this but you. Let your imagination flow, and experiment with different future realities for yourself.
4 . Get outside your comfort zone — Try something new every day. Whether it’s going to a different coffee shop or signing up for that art class you’ve been thinking about for forever, do something that makes you feel uncomfortable each day. The magic of this is that it helps you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. By starting with small, low-risk scenarios and seeing that the world doesn’t end when you look silly or like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll slowly start taking bigger risks and seize larger opportunities without fearing failure or appearing incompetent. Believe me, no one’s paying as much attention to you as you think — they’re all worried about themselves!
5 . Up the ante — Going all-in is a risky strategy, but for some people it’s just the thing you need to change the current of your life (see my example above). Sometimes, you need to just decide to go all-in. Maybe you’re going all-in out of necessity, or maybe it’s your stubbornness or ego running the show (guilty…), but you know it’ll end in one of two ways: either you’ll see success, which will fuel your confidence and help you keep going; or you’ll fail and end up going with your back-up plan anyway. Of course, I’m not advocating that you should make seriously destructive decisions without fully considering the repercussions — I’m just saying that sometimes you need to put a little skin in the game to get out of your head and do what you need to do. By investing in yourself in a way that’s responsible but also makes you feel uncomfortable, you may just unlock the secret to your success.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
You stop giving it power and attention. Everyone has that voice in their head that love to point out your failures, shortcomings, and when you look absolutely ridiculous. The difference is that the really successful and confident people have learned to ignore them and those who are struggling with self-doubt listen to them like they have a valid point. For me, it took a lot of inner work to where I was able to stop those negative trains of thought before they ran off the tracks and derailed me from what I really wanted, but I’ve gotten to the point now where I recognize those negative voices or thoughts as remnants of my “old programming”, and I give those mean inner thoughts the same amount of credence I give my toddler’s words when he tells me I’m a ‘meanie head’.
But in all seriousness, those self-critical thoughts are from your past traumas and they are being triggered when you feel unsafe as your brain’s way of keeping you in familiar territory (your brain believes that familiar = safe, even if familiar is not good for you in the long run). If this is something that’s a huge obstacle for you, it may be helpful to work with a trauma-informed therapist/counselor, or highly-experienced coach that specializes in this area to help you unpack that, make peace with those characters in your mind, and move forward.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
It’s not as simple or easy as many would have you believe. A lack of self-confidence often has much deeper roots than it may seem at first, so the journey to believing in yourself and what you’re bringing to the table usually ends up being full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and unexpected obstacles. But you are absolutely worth doing that work inner healing and mindset work. You can achieve amazing things when you’re living and working in your full potential, and you can have the life you dream of; often the hardest part is getting yourself to believe that’s true.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
I would tell them that everybody struggles with imposter syndrome, it’s not just them. We all have times when we hear that voice asking “who do you think you are??” My best advice when those moments arise is to take a deep breath in and a long breath out, and then repeat your affirmations to yourself. You are safe. You are qualified. You are highly-trained. You have the experience. You are passionate. You are in exactly the right place right now. And you’ve got this! Say it as many times as you need to until that voice pipes down and you start to believe what you’re saying again.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
It may seem like a leap from our current conversation, but I believe that redistributing gender roles within cis-het relationships in household labor is a massive game changer for women’s confidence and success. By and large, women do the majority of household labor and, statistically speaking, tend to be the default caregivers in their families. Women struggle with feeling as though they need to show up at their job like they don’t have a family, and show up in their family like they don’t have a job. It’s just not sustainable, and it’s a contributing factor to women leaving the workplace in massive numbers since 2020. By starting with equitably distributing household labor and childcare responsibilities between the two partners, the women in those relationships will be able to build their confidence and identity beyond their roles of mother and wife. When this happens, relationships flourish, children thrive, and the fabric of society is reinforced.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I’d love to have a private conversation with Lady Gaga. I’m a huge fan of her music, but beyond that I admire all the advocacy and non-profit work she does and the causes she stands for. I would love to pick her brain on how she’s been able to enjoy such a successful career while standing strong in her values and ethics and giving back to her fanbase.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best place to get to know me better while getting insights that will help you level up in life and business is through my podcast, The Brazen Podcast (available everywhere!)
I’m also on LinkedIn (Calley Hewes, NP) and Instagram (@brazencoaching).
You can check out my blog and services on my website: BrazenWomen.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.