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Why Women Lose Confidence at Work

Elizabeth Lions

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I always take questions at the end of my talks, and recently, I distinctly remember a woman in the back of the room that said, "Elizabeth, I attended one of your talks recently, and you told us about the monkey in our heads. That really helped me. Can you tell that story again?"

So here goes:

Your mind is like a monkey. It goes from thought to thought for hours on end. It rattles on so much that we often don't have any idea about what is going on up there at all.

In fact, we often think we are our thoughts.

We think, "I am angry" or, "I am happy," but none of that is the truth.

You are not your thoughts.

You identify with the thought, and that is the problem. The problem is not stopping your thoughts. It's impossible to stop the mind. I read that in any given day, a person has 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts and more than 70% are negative. The better approach is to make friends with your mind and the thoughts.

The monkey is the thought.

Each thought runs wild like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. If the monkey is not monitored, thoughts will go wild. Consider your mind as the cage and your thoughts the monkey, who runs from thing to thing, never satisfied.

The mind is nearly never satisfied, and if it is, it is not satisfied for long. Instead, it grasps for the next problem to solve or the next issue to find.

The monkey runs you.

And what do you suppose happens when a monkey is left unattended in the cage?

The monkey throws poo and bananas all over the cage. You don't want a mind like that, do you? Do you want your mind and eventually your life—which reflects your mind—to be a total stinky mess?

No, of course not.

So, don't feed the monkeys in your head. Ever.

It's your job to not feed the monkeys, and it's a full-time job, without weekends off, no holidays, no smoke breaks, no time off for good behavior. Mind your mind, or someone else will. Likely it will be your monkey that takes possession of your mind.

For women, and honestly, I'd say most people, the monkey is the thought that tells you that you are fat or ugly, not smart enough, or don't have innovative ideas at work. All of us have monkeys, but it's an interesting process to slow down enough to see the monkeys and to start to disassociate from your mind.

Trust me, I've done this with a lot of success. Women's monkeys are damaging in the cage for they perpetuate every false idea they have ever had about them.

Oh, and one other thing, in case you haven't noticed—the monkey always lies to you.

There is virtually nothing that goes on in your mind that is ever good.

The problem is twofold: you don't know that you have monkeys (bad thoughts), and you don't know you are feeding them (by believing your mind and making that story your identity), and therefore you buy into the lies.

You are not your thoughts.

Therefore, you must never feed the monkey.

The mind is jumping about, like an animal, piddling on the floor, jumping from thing to thing, and basically out of control. Until it's harnessed, and one makes friends with their mind, they are a slave to circumstances, most of which started within the vain components of the mind, before it manifested into reality. Women fall into victimhood easily. All of us do it. Many powerful people that I've met at work had a mind that worked overtime and caused them a lot of agony.

Lack of confidence is nothing but a product your mind creates, and it pains me to council some of the most fabulous women I've ever worked with and see their mental suffering around work.

The thoughts are:


  • Why didn't I get promoted?

  • Why can't I do this? I've done harder things in life.

  • Why doesn't she like me?

  • Does my boss have it in for me? Why?


Seven years ago, I was tired of myself and tired of my mind. The thoughts around work were so painful and paranoid that I had to get to the root cause.

Since then, my interest is no longer my career, my money, my accomplishments, or anything else. I took a shortcut. I don't believe any of those things are me.

My sole interest is mastery of my mind.

That is the root of all pain, suffering, and illusion—especially at work.

Join me.

If you want advancement at work or in any other part of your life—mind your mind.

One of my favorite quotes is as follows:

"The problem is not with life. The problem is you haven't taken charge of your mind." —sadguru, Isha Foundation

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Elizabeth Lions is an international speaker and author on career management and leadership.

She is the author of three books,
Recession Proof Yourself and I Quit! Working for You Isn't Working for Me and a third book was released in 2017 on leadership, and is entitled, Hear Us Roar—Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America.

Many of Elizabeth's clients are women in male-dominated fields, who are looking for a crash course in how to lead and navigate the office. Many were passed over for promotion or not given the respect they deserve before encountering Elizabeth's message. Elizabeth has designed and developed leadership and career management courses, which have been given in the United States, Dubai, and the Middle East.

Elizabeth has read over 100,000 resumes in her career and hired thousands of professionals in some of America's top organization, such as Intel, Fiserv, Wells Fargo and Microsoft, Precision Castparts, and AT&T to name a few. An expert adviser on career conundrums, Elizabeth is well-known in the press, and has been quoted in Yahoo, The Ladders, and Dice job boards. Her words have reached as far as the front page of the Philadelphia Tribune, PBS, CBS Money Watch, Dale Carnegie, and John Tesh's blog.

Bottom line: Elizabeth knows why someone is hired, fired, or promoted—which is invaluable to women in today's climate. Understanding how to get along and get ahead in the office is top-of-mind for today's women of Corporate America. Elizabeth provides clarity where there was once confusion.

Today, Elizabeth can be found writing, coaching, and collaborating with the who's who of the Corporate America. When she isn't working, Elizabeth can be found traveling across state lines with her husband on their Harley Davidson motorcycle or in the yoga studio twisting for hours on end.

For more about Elizabeth's philosophies, programs, and videos, please visit www.LIONSOLOGY.com.

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