Tune into your intuition by feeling how your emotions feel in your body and interpreting them. What is your heart telling you to do or not do? What is your gut saying? Spending time alone each day, a minimum of 10 minutes, is important so that you don’t lose touch with your priorities, emotions, and values. With practice, you will start trusting yourself and your instinct more and stop accommodating what everyone else wants over your own needs.
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 Mandy Steinhardt.
Mandy Steinhardt is a women’s career and life coach who helps women get back in touch with their needs and passions and get past “good girl syndrome”. She has over 15 years of experience in marketing and tech with companies including Burt’s Bees, Cisco and Unilever and over 4 years’ experience coaching clients and leading teams. She believes in creating healing communities for women through women’s circles where they can be seen and heard and support each other. She offers coaching and women’s circles for career changers, overwhelmed women, and job seekers.
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 am a child of a scrimping and saving single mother who was raised understanding the importance of female independence. She taught me how to be responsible with my money and not to depend on a man to define my self-worth. I have always been independent in that sense, but struggled as I grew up to come away from the “good girl” archetype. I became a codependent and a people-pleaser. Now I share the lessons I have learned along that journey with women who are looking for a change in their career or lifestyle but who are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start or what they want.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I was inspired by my mentor Sherylynn Pitt, LCSW. She is an ecotherapist and women’s circle facilitator who showed me how powerful healing can be within a circle of women that trust each other. I stumbled upon her circle through Facebook, and we had monthly meetings working through stories, myth, and the female experience. That circle of supportive women helped me heal from the death of my mother and survive during the depressing onset of the pandemic.
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?
None of my mistakes are particularly funny at the time. One big one was in underestimating the change in my lifestyle and identity once I became a mother. My self-concept was completely broken down and had to be rebuilt. Mothers are constantly guilted by society and each other about whether they are giving enough to their children. This creates many mental health problems without a community of support.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now I am offering women’s circles that help women support each other, re-create a spiritual life in whatever way works for them, and truly see each other for the wonderful gorgeous powerful women that they are. I teach ancient and contemporary self-care practices so women can stay in touch with themselves and honor their own needs. I am also forming a women’s collective called the dream incubator where women can provide support and advice to each other in achieving financial independence and pay equity.
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?
In my career coaching, the biggest difference between women who earn what they are worth and women who are chronically underpaid is how confidently a woman presents herself. Many of my Dress for Success clients have overcome daunting odds and present very insecurely when they have conversations with prospective employers. They will practically whisper, not look you in the eye, or be very unsure of their answers to questions. Faking it till you make it is an important part of career success. If you have made it to the interview phase, then you are on an even playing field with the other candidates. Once you embody that you are a “hot commodity,” with your body and words, the employer will be fighting to hire you.
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?
I am an avid tennis player. It is a very mental game. In order to win, you have to have strong belief that you can do it. As soon as the trend of points start to head in the wrong direction, it is easy to question whether you are doomed to lose, even if you are still in the first set. Only belief in yourself can help you sustain the mental and emotional trials that are career and life, carrying you to victory. Developing that belief is your most important task.
Additionally, there are so many people that don’t practice art, just for the sake of making it. That is one of the most healing things you can do. Not everything you do needs to be perfect. You need to allow for mistakes and failures, and don’t let that fear stop you from starting something.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
As a young woman, I had many insecurities, both about relationships, and my status in the workplace. The constant seeking of approval on many fronts caused me to say yes in many situations where I should have said no. Establishing appropriate boundaries is something I continue to practice and learn, which makes me feel good about myself and creates healthy relationships, developing respect.
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?
At one point I was so burnt out with work and being taken for granted, that it hit me all of a sudden. I could stop working on this project and that would be my boss’s problem. That boss was treating me like a cog who had no other opportunities rather than working with me and helping to motivate me. I had so overextended myself that I lost sight of who and what I was working so hard for. From that moment on I set better boundaries at work, took care of my mental health, and landed a new position which paid more with a boss that truly respected me.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Tune into your intuition by feeling how your emotions feel in your body and interpreting them. What is your heart telling you to do or not do? What is your gut saying? Spending time alone each day, a minimum of 10 minutes, is important so that you don’t lose touch with your priorities, emotions, and values. With practice, you will start trusting yourself and your instinct more and stop accommodating what everyone else wants over your own needs.
I personally try to spend 20 minutes every morning meditating and journaling, and if I feel like it I pull a tarot card or do an I-Ching reading for myself. I often light a candle. The important thing is having a private space for yourself to allow you to remember your dreams and values.
2 . Spend time with people who are net energy positive. Folks who drag you down, belittle you or insult you are taking your energy and self-confidence away. You have to establish boundaries around draining people and behaviors which will give you more confidence and an immediate feeling of personal power. With practice, your power and confidence grows but it requires bravery. Choose your friendships and relationships carefully.
Every time I have given too much, due to my codependency, I became resentful and burnt out. It wasn’t until I started practicing saying “No” that I developed that backbone and self-respect.
3 . Figure out ways to share your strengths with the world through giving back to the community. Volunteering, acts of kindness, they help you feel good inside and feel good about yourself. Because you are expressing your values through action in the world and improving the lives of others.
I had tried different types of volunteering over the years, but career coaching for Dress for Success changed my life. I realized how good it felt to help encourage other women and help empower them to get a better job. When I heard that my first client got the job I was overjoyed! Sharing our gifts with others is a wonderful feeling and helps us understand the power of being aligned with our values.
4 . I had internalized a lot of negative self-concept through the church I was raised in. It’s important to reclaim spirituality if it feels like you have something missing from your life since leaving a church. Explore spirituality on your own terms, free from the dogmatic rules and shame that many of us were raised with. Create a way to celebrate your existence in a way that works for you, such as creating your own rituals and definition of sacred. Remember that every human and life is sacred and that includes yourself, despite how you were taught the opposite.
I have created my own spiritual practice that revolves around reading, poetry, myth, gathering with women, and philosophy. Sure, I throw some candles and crystals in there too. It works for me.
5 . Seek therapy and/or professional support. I have seen therapists for long periods of time in my life when my identity and mental health were struggling. Many of us are also susceptible to depression and anxiety. Make sure to utilize those resources when you need to rather than spinning out or dumping on all your friends. There may be many reasons why you don’t believe in yourself, including abuse and trauma. Work through those things with a licensed counselor.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
One method is a Bryon Katie approach, which is simply to ask, as you recognize these thoughts, whether they are true, and whether you can be absolutely sure they are true. Trying to push the thoughts away sometimes can increase the frequency as our inner devil’s advocate and scared child screams to be heard. You might even act out a conversation with this negative Nancy so you can hear them out and then put the thoughts into context. They are not necessarily true but you can acknowledge that you are scared, and these voices are here to keep you safe. You don’t need to believe them.
Your therapist will also have strategies you can use to help address this. DBT is another method I have studied and used at the recommendation of a therapist.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
People think everyone else is born confident. It’s not true. It’s a carefully cultivated belief in yourself that comes from letting the real you shine and encouraging yourself. That’s how you gradually develop that sparkle in your eyes.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
It’s easy to feel like you are never enough when the expectations of the working world and society keep expanding. Remember that we are all human and nobody is a perfect worker, mom, or friend. Think about your strengths that really make you feel powerful and shiny when you engage in them. And bring more of this into your life. Stop accepting roles society tells you to, and just do what matches your values and what is important to you.
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 believe in empowering women to achieve their highest potential and to get paid what they deserve. I would like to form a collective where we can support each other in these goals. Women connected are extremely powerful beings who can raise each other up. We can be helping each other profit rather than putting our money and hard work in the hands of others who don’t respect us.
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 am a huge fan of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They are strong, expressive women who have been able to portray and write stories from women that are powerful, relatable and relevant. They can be serious and funny and poignant at the same time. I was Leslie Knope for Halloween one year!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Sign up for my newsletter at my website https://mandysteinhardt.com and follow me on Instagram @mandysteinhardtcoaching
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.