Surround yourself with people who are unapologetically authentic and have what you want. The only people who tell a person ‘they can’t’ are those that haven’t. Look at who you surround yourself with. Do you want what they have? Personally, I’m not an advocate of cutting people out. Instead, I seek out people who have what I want and add them to the mix. The old relationships either grow with me or disappear. This approach saves me from the potential of going back and forth and allows me to still get support or value from places that I may have deemed “bad”. It’s easy to start with finding online groups with people you don’t even know. Show up. Get to know them. Social media is an easy way to change outlook and perception, too. Unfollow, unfriend, delete anything that does not support the desired mindset and replace it with inspiration.
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 Carrie Conrad.
Carrie is a dedicated defense and violence prevention expert and owner of Beating Disaster, a Detroit based, specialty school offering training and coaching in prevention, protection and defense specifically for moms.
Unfortunate life experience led to her passion of teaching karate to evolve into studying violence prevention, psychology, communication — even bodyguard training — to better prepare and empower women and children to avoid the often overlooked and unreported causes of trauma and harm.
After teaching self-defense for over a decade, her efforts transitioned to include ensuring moms have access to what they need to confidently raise their children to be PREPARED for today’s world and keep themselves and their kids safe from harm at the hands of others.
Though she still teaches karate, more time is spent furthering learning as well as empowering mothers through hands-on training, online coaching and speaking on prevention and defense specific concerns.
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 had a reasonably privileged childhood. My parents put me in private schools and invested in my participation in sports and anything I expressed an interest. I grew up in a loving family, not without their struggles and difficulties. It was in my childhood home that, unbeknownst to me, my journey and preparation for my career had already began. I’m blessed to say that my parents did their best to provide a better childhood than they had experienced, and I am proud to say that I do my best to do the same for my children.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My entire life events really led to this, and so many people were and are integral in the career I have. It started with my parents insisting I take and stick with karate as a near teen despite my wavering interest. The people I met there taught me so much more than just martial arts, especially my instructor. He was a mentor in my teenage years and beyond and is and has meant so much to me.
No matter what I’ve done for work I’ve always been passionate about teaching karate and empowering others. It was actually a karate student of mine that invited me to teach self defense with him because he needed another instructor for a large class. I never stopped teaching with him, and, in fact, still contract with him regularly today.
My own venture, Beating Disaster, was created in the transition from a stay-at-home mom to becoming a single parent to a daughter with demanding needs. My karate instructor and that karate student both continually encouraged me. By that time I had tons of (debatably fortunate or unfortunate) life experience that allowed me to create and fine tune my own content for helping others to stay safe from loved ones and family members exhibiting unsafe behaviors.
Today, my husband encourages me to further my learning and training. He supports the countless hours that have invested into helping others. We have 3 kids, two of which are toddlers, and he works full time and coaches, too! There’s just no way I could be where I am or have done the things that I have so far without every single one of those (plus the many more) contributors.
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?
Although I love a good laugh especially at my own mistakes, the ones that come to mind really aren’t that funny. I have accidently slighted people, including a time in financial desperation I offered services at half off when a local company that supported me greatly had the same offerings for the full price. I’ve unthinkingly shared intimate details of others publicly. Because typically dark and taboo topics are regular daily conversations for me, I used to regularly share too many details too bluntly which can really dampen the mood at social gatherings. It’s not uncommon for me to laugh when others do not. A mistake I continue to make every so often is trying to be helpful to people who don’t want help. I’ve learned not everyone wants to take responsibility for improving their experiences.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Currently I’m enjoying learning about Facebook groups and Facebook Lives so moms have a safe space to find support as well as learn tips and tools specifically tailored to their concerns and needs. Every Tuesday morning EST I go Live to provide some kind of value. This just started, so it’s still pretty messy, but I’m most excited about “Mama’s Ready!”, a quick session on using items moms typically already carry in self-defense, and “You Pick!”, questions and answers on blog articles from the website.
The reason for the group and lives is to build awareness of the Mama Bear PREPARED online course which leads moms on a six week journey to confidence and security. This course walks moms through decision making on safe living related to raising children — from getting in and of the car safely, making it through the biting and hitting phase in toddlers, picking a safe school, helping their children with bullying, conquering sibling rivalry, de-escalating moms at the playground or your kids baseball game, and more. Moms can absolutely be confident in the security of their family’s safety with the right tools and information, and we are excited to provide content with all the areas and ways that parents absolutely have control.
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?
My understanding is that whatever it is that I believe — I am right. If I believe I can’t — I’m right. When I believe I’m a victim, I’m a victim. I spent a good chunk of my life being terrified of being victimized. I perpetuated that into every aspect of my life, and if that’s my focus then that’s what I see and find everywhere I go. So when I truly, deep down in my core, know I am capable — no one can stop me. This is where I have power. This is where I have influence, and this where I have choices in my life.
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?
To me, “to believe in myself” means I understand and accept I have value and purpose. I can tell you that I have no desire to be a great artist or a gold medal Olympian. And I won’t be. But someone else, for sure, can and absolutely will if that’s what seeps and creeps into their dreams and thinking in the moments they sit quiet.
I’ve learned it doesn’t even have to be a happy thought. I used to (and still have moments) where I’m irritated at the career I have. I can get flustered over how much I need to learn or grow to keep moving forward. I used to spend so much energy and time resisting this.
I do believe I have a choice, and I don’t have to do this for work. I can do anything, but when I show up I get to see the relief and hope and help that I am uniquely qualified to offer mothers that are worried and struggling. It’s just plain selfish for me to quit to do something else. That’s part of why I’m most excited about this article. I came from a dark place, and if I can do it anyone can. That’s why that Mama Bear PREPARED online course is so great — because I get to walk moms through coming to believe in their own capabilities and power.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Absolutely! Despite reasonable accomplishments and success, when I was in my early twenties I got to a place where I no longer wanted to live. I had lost all faith in myself as well as any other human being, and really just wanted to die. In trying to run from myself and my feelings of inadequacy I repeatedly made selfish and poor choices simply trying to be and feel okay — and nothing worked. In fact, things got worse and worse and worse. I just torched anything of any value in my life because I didn’t believe I deserved good things.
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 believe my journey was so slow because I wasn’t consciously aware of the process or what was needed to apply it -other than knowing I needed to change. Because I really thought so little of myself, I couldn’t even start there. It started with the need to change and finding people who knew how. I believed that other people had a purpose, and I realized it’s pretty ridiculous to think I am the only one in the world without value. I couldn’t argue that I could be helpful to others by doing small things — like smiling at a cashier, saying ‘thank you’ more often, and putting my shopping cart away in the corral.
Over time, fully believing and seeing those small things snowballed into more and greater things, and the momentum keeps going — more and more as I learn to stop resisting. It really wasn’t that long ago that I realized that I could come to believe I could reach and empower more mothers than just those in my self-defense classes. And here we are providing online content. Coming to believe, for me, has been the hardest part.
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 down what you want. Why write down what I want? Because if every morning I look the things I want and ask myself ‘why’ it’s plain to see that value comes from me. My legitimate desires are basic and undeniably bring value. In the beginning I just picked one thing because I didn’t believe I was worth or deserved anything: I wanted to be safe. In the morning I just started saying ‘thank you’ out loud for what I didn’t even have, and in time I began to believe I actually did deserve to be safe. Then I began to make decisions that enabled me to be increasingly safe.
Over time, the list has gotten longer and more detailed, but in the beginning I wasn’t sure I believed I could have even that, and honestly, I have spent a good part of my life living around violence. Number one on my list today: I can have a safe, supporting, gentle and loving family. (That means it’s my job to be a safe, supporting, gentle and loving participant in my family).
2 . At night make an inventory of all the things you do right, and the unique things that make you, you. On the days I feel I have no value, I look for the value I brought to the day. Did I smile at someone who looked like they were hurting? Did I let someone in front of me in traffic? Did I show up for people in my life today? Sometimes this list needs to be things that I could do better at — it depends. On the days that I feel like a big shot, I make a point to look at where I can do better. I don’t have to think highly of myself for thinking too much of myself to get in the way. This list of my character traits — It’s often the things about me that I’m not excited about that can end up being the most useful. For example, I talk way too much and I’m always trying to consciously keep more quiet. However, people keep asking me and inviting me to talk more, so I do. It’s how I get to help and serve others.
3 . Surround yourself with people who are unapologetically authentic and have what you want. The only people who tell a person ‘they can’t’ are those that haven’t. Look at who you surround yourself with. Do you want what they have? Personally, I’m not an advocate of cutting people out. Instead, I seek out people who have what I want and add them to the mix. The old relationships either grow with me or disappear. This approach saves me from the potential of going back and forth and allows me to still get support or value from places that I may have deemed “bad”. It’s easy to start with finding online groups with people you don’t even know. Show up. Get to know them. Social media is an easy way to change outlook and perception, too. Unfollow, unfriend, delete anything that does not support the desired mindset and replace it with inspiration.
4 . Assess and redirect what you think you believe about yourself and others. If I’m surrounded by inspiration while I doubt myself or don’t believe in me — then it brings things up. Those things need to go! Some of these beliefs sound plausible in my head but if I write them down and look at them it’s all obviously crap. Sound healing, emotion code, EMDR — there are so many ways to get rid of what weighs on me. It was my experience that the healthier I get the more sick I realized my thinking was. The more I clean up, the more room for new things to surface. It’s a process and a cycle.
5 . Give yourself (and others) grace! Growth is never a straight line. Recovery from rebellion and tantrums is much quicker if I just let myself go “all in”. Sometimes I set a timer and really make that tantrum count. I will splurge on junk but just be sure to be mindful and allow myself to enjoy every bite and it’s flavors and textures. I watch the movie, but turn off my phone off and give it my full attention.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Distraction. Go volunteer. Help someone else. Draw. Paint. Sing. Create. Do whatever makes you feel good and distracts you from what you are thinking or feeling. While thoughts and feelings can be important, there are times for assessing and times for action and redirecting. If I already know what I want and/or what I don’t want, it’s time to redirect. If I’m confused or don’t know what it is I want, then I reflect. I use the negative thinking as a trigger to go do esteeming acts.
Don’t get me wrong. I mentioned setting aside time for a good fit. There are times I set a timer for 5 minutes and go all in. That even includes going long and hard “on the pity pot” — the more dramatic and ridiculous the better. When time is up, it’s up. Sometimes, it just needs to come out, and then I can regroup and get back to it.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Cockiness is not confidence. In the world of defense people can tend to think that getting loud or scary can be a deterrent, but while it may work at times, others it’s quite the opposite. I don’t want to be responsible for escalating a situation. Personally, I choose to make safety not negotiable, and I don’t roll the dice there.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
How can I be an imposter when I’m the main character in my own story? This is my life, and I believe I’m supposed to do what scares me. The more I show up, eventually it becomes apparent I can help others — with or without meaning to, and that’s not unique to me.
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.
I’m blessed to be doing just that. I am introducing mothers to the power they have — helping them to come believe in their ability to keep themselves and their kids safe, physically and emotionally, and the power to raise the next generation to be PREPARED for the world we live in today. Who doesn’t want a world that is safe for children to play in and enjoy?
There was a time I was excited to be able to do this one class at a time, and now because of the internet and the boom in online courses, coaching and offerings I get to not only help many more mothers but also connect and collaborate with other service providers the better help and support mothers.
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 thought about this long and hard because it’s just not quite something that would be important to me. However, I also believe in enjoying opportunities. So I have to say, Ryan Reynolds. He’s Deadpool, for heaven’s sake. Movies really are a guilty pleasure of mine (especially those with sarcasm and violence), and I love seeing people succeeding and having great careers. Obviously, Deadpool’s a favorite. It’s brought me so much laughter in some dark times in my life.
I have to tell this story. I was on a flight to visit my parents with my then 4 year old. Flights with an overactive child suck and returning home to visit parents with no good news also is quite sucky. At that time in my life I had not been watching any “grown up” movies or really doing much for fun, ever. I watched Deadpool 2 on that flight with earbuds in sitting next to my daughter who was watching Maya the Bee with her own ear plugs. I laughed so inappropriately loud and long and hard to the point of tears! People repeatedly kept turning around to look at me. I was waiting for a flight attendant to tell me to be quiet. I did not care. I laughed and laughed and laughed, and it was so therapeutic and needed.
While I appreciate his success in his career, mostly importantly he’s also a parent with an inappropriate sense of humor and appears to value and prioritize his family. Despite being someone that doesn’t really notice or care for celebrities — I’m a fan.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Beating Disaster can be found at www.beatingdisaster.com, and moms are especially encouraged to join the Mama Bear PREPARED Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/MamaBearPREPARED. We not only have those online offerings, but we would be glad to bring unique hands on self defense training to a major metropolitan area near you.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.