When you work for yourself, by yourself, and social media is your main sounding board for ideas, expertise and community – it can really sting when someone pokes fun of and criticises you online.
This happened to me recently and really knocked my confidence around. In retrospect, it was probably just a bit of fun with absolutely no offence intended, but, I was feeling tired and vulnerable at the time and absolutely conflated the whole thing way beyond its origins or intentions.
Anyone who has done my e-course or come along to one of my workshops will (hopefully) remember ‘Sally’; the person I write to when putting together blog posts, IG posts or newsletters.
The idea of crating a ‘Sally’ came a couple of years ago via marketing guru Jane Hillsdon, it’s the avatar you create in your mind who is your ideal reader, the person you and your business are here to serve.
I have a very clear idea of who this fictional woman is and how I can help her with big and little things (what to do with a glut of cherries, how to tell the story of her small business on social media). And when I check in with her photo (a picture torn out of Country Style magazine a few years ago which is stuck on my noticeboard in the office) before posting and ask myself ‘how is this post going to help, entertain, inspire Sally today’. She always helps me stay on track and not forget that social media isn’t actually about me, it’s about having helpful and inspiring conversations.
Anyhoo… recently, there’s been a more unwelcome avatar jostling for space in my over-sensitive psyche. It’s that critical, mocking voice I mentioned above and can really hold you back sometimes.
Why do we focus on one piece of (perceived or otherwise) negative feedback and dismiss all the lovely things people (your Sallys) might say? Especially when it comes from someone who isn’t necessarily the right fit for your business?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and from my ‘research’ (ie talking to friends who have experienced something similar), it’s a super common thing. I think it’s called self-doubt and also think we are much more susceptible to it when tired and over-committed (aka at this time of year).
And from further research (reading, listening to podcasts like this one, and this one, and I don’t talking to wise friends), this is what I try to do and think and remember when self doubt tries to take over self confidence;
- If you are susceptible to it (hello!) I don’t think self doubt ever goes away, but as Freya Dawson said in this piece, you can decide to make it less important.. ‘the only way to quiet that doubtful voice in your head is to get to work on what you love, work hard, and the more you accomplish the less that doubt seems to matter.’
- Switch off and do nice things away from social media. Perspective is a wonderful thing!
- If you have received some criticism, try to take it as constructive feedback (sooo hard I know but…), maybe this person is doing you a favour and pointing out something that needs improving or updating?
- What other people think of you is none of your business. Annabelle Hickson wrote this in one of her brilliant Country Style columns a couple of years ago and it really stuck, not everyone has to like you and of course not everyone will. It can be hard on social media sometimes to avoid unwanted opinions about you and what you do, especially if you are out there sharing your story in a really open way, but as much as possible, try to decide not to worry about the people who don’t get you and instead shower the ones that do with love and high value content!
- It’s probably nothing to do with you. As Sara Tasker says in this wonderful article; ‘We all have our own unique triggers, and what can be a throwaway post or comment to one person can open a whole can of worms for the next. The good news is, this applies to when people are commenting on our own stuff, too. One random person has taken huge objection to something you’ve shared? Fear not – it’s almost definitely about them.’
Ok, so I really wrote this post and the above reminders for myself mostly, but am sharing here too because I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the creep of self-doubt sometimes and sometimes it’s just nice to know that we are all in it together and we are all vulnerable, especially in this funny old online world.
So for 2019, lets go into the new year with fresh perspective, take a deep breath, push out the critical voices in our head and keep sharing and posting all that valuable content, because it is. And ‘your’ people are there for it.
Disclaimer – obviously I’m not an expert in any of the above, these are just my thoughts on self-doubt and some things that help me deal with it. x