If you’ve forgotten who you are outside of packed lunches, helping with homework, and doing laundry, you might be in need of a confidence boost.
While motherhood is a gift like no other, behind the scenes it can strip away your identity as you become ‘mum’ instead of the person you were pre-kids.
However, admitting this still remains taboo, after all, if you have healthy children, what is there to complain about?
Yet if you don’t look after number one, you can’t look after the rest of the gang.
One wellness whizz who champions mum self-esteem is Suzanne Panayiodou, having experienced her own identity crisis when she became a mother.
The confidence coach now works specifically with women in their 30s and 40s, as this was a time she felt the most lost as well as the era she eventually found herself.
We caught up with Suzanne to find out a little more about her journey, and how she now helps others on their quest to rediscover who they are.
Suzanne said: “I initially trained as a kids’ coach to help children deal with their ‘big’ feelings. I loved seeing them grow in self-esteem, but after a while, I realised that the coaching sessions I enjoyed the most were with the parents – usually the mums.
“We started off talking about their child’s behaviour, though conversation often turned to how they were feeling about themselves and not being ‘good enough’.”
She continued: “Having experienced those feelings during my own parenting journey, I made the decision to switch focus and become a confidence coach for women.”
While many women find their power in bidding farewell to their 20s, this was actually a time when Suzanne struggled the most.
At just 32, and within 11 months, Suzanne lost her mum, became a mother of two kids under two, and her husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
She said: “I lost my confidence, I second-guessed myself and whilst I loved my boys, I realised I didn’t know who I was anymore or what I wanted to do with my life.
“I felt guilty for ‘wanting more’ when I already had a good life from the outside. So, I embarked on my own journey of self-discovery, coaching and I did the inner work. Through that, I got to know myself again and found my purpose – coaching.”
Now, Suzanne shares the knowledge that saved her, saying the main areas that affect her clients are worrying about what other people think; feeling stuck and not knowing why or how to move on; and finding the courage to be your true self.
She said: “One of the main challenges is that as women, we’ve been so conditioned to be ‘good girls’ from a young age. How often were we told as kids, ‘You’re a good girl’ and whilst the intention behind that statement was well-meaning, many of us ended up equating being ‘good’ and well-behaved with feeling loved and accepted.”
As we grow up, Suzanne says our subconscious takes these messages and forms a story around them, meaning as adults we evolve with the following traits:
*Hating conflict of any kind and feeling responsible for other people’s moods
*Hating making mistakes, with perfectionism being the path for ‘good girls
*Crumbling under criticism, but hiding it to avoid making others uncomfortable
*Finding it hard to say no or putting other people’s needs before your own
*Feeling the pressure to constantly ‘achieve’ and to validate worthiness at work
*Seeking external validation
*Losing sight of who we are, because we always adapt to those around us
Suzanne continued: “Living up to those impossible ‘good girl’ expectations that we subconsciously set ourselves is exhausting.
“Confidence comes from knowing, liking, and trusting yourself, and if you don’t know who you are outside of mum, daughter, partner, friend, colleague and good girl – or whatever label you’ve attached to yourself – how can you like and trust yourself?
“Then there’s the guilt aspect, feeling bad for wanting to work on yourself, because it might be seen as self-indulgent, vain even. Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.”
Some of Suzanne’s confidence hacks include understanding what makes her tick in tandem with what makes her happy, then consciously doing those things.
Similarly, she credits affirmations as gold dust, telling herself that she is good enough and she is right where she’s meant to be, so that she starts to believe it.
The wellbeing guru is also a fan of journaling, ‘dancing it out’, and striking the power pose which involves standing with your hands on hips and feet apart, channelling your inner Wonder Woman, then breathing into your tummy – this position reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and boosts testosterone (even in women).
Alongside the tips she shares, Suzanne said she strives to correct mistruths about confidence, that once you’ve reached your confidence goal that’s you set for life.
She concluded: “It’s a work in progress. But, once you do the foundation work, get to understand yourself and learn strategies to boost your confidence, it’s life changing.”
To rediscover yourself, click here: Reset Coaching.