I've been working in the Personal Development Industry since 2013 - personally working with more than 340+ women, and for years before that I was an 'active reader' of self-help books, so I feel I can confidently call myself an expert in the field. Especially when it comes to Personal Development FOR WOMEN.
I know what works really well for us, and I know what really doesn't.
And the one piece of advice that I'm SO sick of hearing coaches, leaders and well-meaning influencers tell other women to do is 'just think positively' - like it's the 'magic pill' that will heal your emotional pain and limitations.
This is not because I don't believe in Positive Thinking - I do..... WHEN there is ZERO negative head talk or charge that is accompanied by the Affirmation or Mantra.
What do I mean by that?
I remember back in 2012 I would spend LITERALLY 30-40minutes EVERY NIGHT reading through my mantras and affirmations, writing in my gratitude diary, 'getting into the zone' to FEEL more positive about my day. And of a morning, before my feet would hit the ground, I'd repeat the routine.... I did it EVERY morning and EVERY night because that's what 'THEY' told me to do.
Admittedly there were times when this activity did help (in retrospect I believe those times were likely connected to where I was at in my cycle - read more about that here: https://breestedman.com/blog/what-makes-consistency-the-quickest-route-to-burnout-for-women-in-business) but for the majority of the time it would leave me feeling exhausted because SO MUCH EFFORT went into trying to be positive and so much of me didn't FEEL it.
Throughout the day, I would be hyper-focused on my thoughts - trying to catch everything negative and turn it into something more appealing - and again, although this exercise helped me to be very aware of my habitual thought patterns, it didn't little for my self-confidence or self-worth.... especially when, despite my best efforts I couldn't SHAKE the reoccurring nature of my negative thoughts. And the more I became aware of those negative thoughts, the worse I FELT about myself - an no amount of 'positivity' was going to magically change those feelings.
THIS is why Positive Thinking as an approach to 'reprogram our brain' is NOT beneficial for women as a starting point. It's something we can utilise AFTER we've addressed our Negative Emotions and Limiting Beliefs, but trying to do it while that lives within you is like trying to get a cup of mud run clear by adding a drop of fresh water. We've got to clear it up FIRST to really have the benefit of the fresh new thought.
Let me explain.
When a woman has a 'conscious thought', let's say "I AM GOOD ENOUGH", unless she 100% without any doubt BELIEVES this conscious thought, she will have a knee-jerk unconscious reaction that reflects her TRUE BELIEF about herself.
And that knee-jerk belief is fuelled by all the emotions that cause her to feel like shit.
You get the drift - the thoughts and emotions may not be exactly what YOU are saying and feeling, but I bet if you stop and actually catch the truth of your knee-jerk reactions when you're saying your Affirmations or trying so hard to think positively, that your truth will resemble the above. And they are contaminating the positive thought.
These deeper thoughts that are triggered through this 'seemingly positive' activity are really dangerous for women, because we have MORE connections between our thoughts and emotions then men - so every time we have a thought we are connecting and strengthening the emotions TO the thought.... this is where the 'theory' of positive thinking 'should' benefit us - but as in my above examples, if there is ANYTHING negative that comes up from the positive affirmation or mantra, you are NOT strengthening the positive, your strengthening the negative.
When working with your female clients (or yourself) I strongly STRONGLY encourage you to work with the negative emotions - the doubts, fears and insecurities AND the limiting beliefs BEFORE trying to reprogram with affirmations and mantra's.
And Ideally, if you want to Guarantee her Cycle-Breaking Long-Term Outcome, you don't just want to work on the problems, you want to break the cycles of the problem state by taking into consideration the clients female brain and her epigenetically history (that's another blog!!)
By taking this approach, you'll get a much better Result for your client.