A quick guide on how to stop worrying what people are thinking about you


They’re talking about you. You just KNOW they are. You see them, heads together and huddled in the break room. Your stomach is in knots. They are surely gossiping and backstabbing you. How could they possibly have anything good to say? How are you supposed to move forward when you know they’re standing in judgment, criticizing your every move?


If this sounds familiar, then you’ve fallen into the classic trap of worrying about what other people are thinking of you. Worse, you’re allowing it to affect your goals. After all, when you’re focused on what other people think of you, how can you possibly be keeping your eye on focusing and achieving your own dreams?

It’s time to stop.


There is absolutely no room for this kind of worry in your life. You don’t deserve to do this to yourself. Doubts will lead you to second-guessing every step of the process. It eats away at self-confidence and leaves you wondering if you’re ever going to accomplish anything significant at all. Don’t want to believe it? Think about this: what have the biggest successes in the world done that you haven’t?

Simple. At some point, they stopped worrying about what other people thought. Don’t believe it? Take a step back in time and remember what you thought the first time you heard of Facebook or Amazon. What about Uber? Or Airbnb? Every one of those ideas received hefty criticism when they were starting out.

So with this in mind, let’s look at some ways to stop the worry cycle so you can put your focus back on the great big idea you have.


Why Do You Even Care What ‘They’ Think?

No, seriously, why do you? If you find yourself caught up in the cycle of worrying about what a particular person or group is saying, it might be time to figure out why this is so terribly important to you. Does their opinion matter for some profound reason that might need to be addressed? Are you trying to impress someone? Or not let down someone else? Once you understand why you’re worried, it’s a lot easier to deal with the fear itself. Ask yourself if this is even a reasonable concern. Does it even have to do with what you’re doing? Could it be you need to have a conversation with someone who might resolve the matter entirely?


Live for Now

A lot of this kind of worry is looking too far ahead into the future. If you’re concerned you might let someone down in the pursuit of this goal, or that you might fail somewhere, it’s time for a step back. What about where you are right now? How are things seriously going? If you have a genuine concern about something going wrong, ask yourself if there’s something you can do right now to prevent this from happening later.


Make Sure You Keep Your Eye on the Prize

As mentioned before, worrying about what others think will take your mind off your goal. The simplest way to turn this around is to put your eyes right back on what you’re doing. Remind yourself of what you’re setting out to accomplish. Think about how you intend to go about doing that. Embrace the dream all over again, leaving no room for worrying about what anyone else is thinking.

Remember that what you think about you bring about. In other words where our energetic thoughts go, our energy flows. Keep focused on where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve, and the fruits of your positive thoughts will materialize into positive actions and outcomes. Consequently, if you spend to much time dwelling in the negative and other people’s thoughts about you, you will just keep bringing more of that into your life. You will perpetually fulfill that constant worrying about what others think.

Eyes on the prize. Don’t let anyone sway you from your life goals.


Whose Opinion Really Matters Anyway?

It’s time you realized only one person’s opinion counts when it comes to what you’re doing: YOURS. Dump the naysayers and focus on you. Are you happy with what you’re doing? Do you like your goal? Do you think it’s a good idea? If so, by all means, carry on!

On the other hand, if you’re starting to doubt yourself, you might need to take things on a little faith. You thought this was good before you started listening to everyone else. Remind yourself you’re a smart, confident person with good ideas.

Remember that some people will often project THEIR insecurities and lack of belief that they have about THEMSELVES onto YOU. Other people will often be unhappy with their ‘lot in life’ and also project that onto you. It really then doesn’t have anything to do with you and is only a mirror back at them and their bad attitude or lack in life. This is actually quite common and infects a lot of people with negative projections. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.


Find Your Own Tribe

It might be you’re just surrounded by the wrong people. If people around you are being negative, it’s time to seek out the company of people with a solid dose of positivity. Look for connections with those who build you up. Isn’t it better to be hanging out with someone who has your back instead of someone who would rather stick a knife in it?

I realize this is something that is sometimes easier said than done. But oftentimes we can also outgrow people because we have new goals and aspirations and our friends want to stay stuck in the past. They don’t want to share and grow with us. This is perfectly normal. It’s also ok to move on and be around people who share the same goals and objectives with us. It fosters a shared commonality and interest which is what we humans tend to bond over. So, don’t feel bad for moving on. If your old friends truly valued your friendship they would respect, admire and cheer you on, right?


Are You Being Too Quick to React?

We all get triggered sometimes. Worry and over-analysis of the situation are common reactions. Take a minute and ask yourself if maybe you’re overreacting to something. Was there criticism that was perhaps meant more kindly than you heard it, the sort of thing with an actual basis in fact? Back up a minute and really examine yourself. If you find you’re indulging in hurt feelings and the surety of ulterior motives, you’re likely triggered. It’s time to take a deep breath and step back until you can think rationally again.


Quit Asking

Why are you seeking the opinions of others in the first place? This is an important question to ask yourself. If you’re looking for approval, you’re only wasting your time. On the other hand, honest feedback is a great idea, so long as you’re asking someone who knows what they’re talking about, and you can take constructive criticism without obsessing about it later.


Think About Where They’re Coming From

Your great big idea might be the worst thing in the world for someone else, but perfect for you. By recognizing where the criticism is coming from, it becomes much easier to deal with. In this case, gently remind the naysayer this is about your life, not theirs, and walk away. Remember, you know what’s best for you.


Recognize Futility

No, you can’t make everyone happy. Someone somewhere is bound to hold a dissenting opinion. That’s part of living surrounded by people with diverse views. Here’s some news for you: not everyone is going to agree with what you’re doing. Focus instead on the people who do believe in you, who think what you’re doing is excellent. The rest simply don’t matter.


Beware the Flip Flop Fakers

One minute you’re offered a piece of criticism for doing it all wrong, the next, you’re being told you have the best idea ever. When someone blows hot and cold (usually because they’re changing their opinion to match the view of those around them), there’s no use in even trying to listen anymore. This kind of person doesn’t actually have an opinion; they’re only mouthing what everyone around them is saying. They’re definitely not worth worrying about.


Are you Thinking Too Much About the Situation?

When someone says something negative, it’s very easy to hear a lot more than what was said. It’s like a kid who misses hitting a ball and being told they need to adjust their stance, and them deciding they’re a terrible hitter and need to quit baseball. Overthinking the situation is very easy to do, especially if you’re holding any shred of self-doubt. Here’s where you need to grab at a little self-confidence and consider what’s being said if you take the other person’s comments at face value.


Recognize People Really Couldn’t Care Less

A lot of the time we’re positive the talk is all about us, when in fact it’s not. The truth is, people are so caught up in their own lives that the majority of them give very little thought to you or what you’re doing. Why worry about people who aren’t worrying about you?


What About You?

You’ve probably heard it said you should treat others the way you want to be treated. This has a lot more truth than you might realize. If you don’t like people talking negatively about you and your dreams, ask yourself if perhaps you’re only getting a dose of what you dish out. If you’re being negative and talking down others, how do you expect those same individuals to react to your dreams and goals? Instead, start cultivating an air of positivity and see if perhaps it’s possible to change the tone of the conversation around you.


Ask if This is Really What You Want to Do with Your Time

The truth is you only have 24 hours in a day. And since no one knows just how many of those days they have left to live, you might want to rethink just how you’re spending your time. Is it really worthwhile to spend time worrying about the opinions of others? You have better things to focus on. Concentrate on things that matter, put your time and energy where you will receive the best payout. Your time is way too precious to waste on someone who doesn’t believe in you or what you’re doing.

There’s really no need to worry about what people are thinking. In the end, your goals and your dreams are way more important than anything anyone else has to say. Remember this as you follow your path in life. After all, this is your journey, not theirs. You’re on the way to somewhere fantastic. Why spoil the journey with the words of someone whose opinion doesn’t even matter?








Reframe! Change how you look at doubt and fear


The most important step in achieving success is learning not to fear failure. In fact, self-doubt and the fear of making a mistake can easily stop you from making any progress at all! It literally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but experts have found that managing failure is a significant aspect of success. The key is in how you respond.

The great American inventor Thomas Edison famously tried more than a thousand times to invent the light bulb. A thousand times! What would you think of someone who kept trying after ten times, or fifty or a hundred? Most of us would think that person was crazy to keep trying when it just wasn’t working. But Edison persevered, and eventually, he came up with the idea that worked. And how did he feel about those failures? He didn’t think they were failures at all. He said he had invented more than a thousand light bulbs that didn’t work. He reframed what looked like failures as steps on the way to success and you can too.

Here are seven ways to reframe self-doubt and fear of failure and to set you on the path to success.

  1. Work out where the fear is coming from.

Fear is one of the fundamental human emotions, and when looking at survival, it offers excellent value. Fear drives the fight or flight response. Learning to be fearful of bears and saber-toothed tigers came in very handy for staying alive back in caveman times! But nowadays such a level of fear is less useful and can harm your chances of success.

Do some thinking about what your fears are. What comes up when you visualize failure? Maybe it’s the anger and disapproval of your parents or a teacher. That fear may have been a reasonable response when you were a child, but it’s no longer serving your best interests as an adult.

A useful exercise is to imagine the worst-case scenario. If you ruin your presentation, or flunk your exam, or don’t get promoted, what is likely to happen? Most of the time our failures are not life or death propositions. They may be disappointments or require some adjustment, but your life will go on!

Identify and confront the source of your fear. Put it into real-world perspective, and you’ll find that a lot of the energy in it dispels.

  1. Acknowledge and accept that you will probably fail a few times.

You should accept that failure is a given. It’s almost impossible to make progress without making some mistakes. The mistakes may be big or small, but there will be missteps. Perhaps it’s a presentation that didn’t go so well, a problem with the data or a sale that fell through. But that’s okay.

If you expect that at some point something you try will not work, you’ve already taken some of the negative energy out of failing. Self-doubt is part and parcel of the human condition. If you can think, you doubt. You need some level of humility, or you are likely to go off the rails. A healthy level of self-doubt is okay. What’s not okay is when self-doubt takes over.

Overwhelming self-doubt and fear can plunge you into a depressive paralysis, too scared to take risks or make decisions. Part of becoming an adult is to learn to accept self-doubt and be able to take steps to defuse it.

  1. Detach from the emotion of failure.

A big element of reframing self-doubt is to be able to detach. Take the personal out of the story, and failure becomes a problem-solving, not a blaming exercise. A lot of emotions like shame and guilt, anger and disappointment are part and parcel of failure. Feel the emotions, acknowledge them and let them pass. Failure is not personal, so you shouldn’t allow it to impact on your sense of self-worth.

Get some perspective on what happened and why and resolve to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. So, you broke your diet or missed your yoga class, you ruined your presentation or made a mistake in your analysis. Acknowledge your mistake, learn from it and move on.

Accept failure as an element of business practice and life itself. It’s just another risk, so make sure you make contingency plans to allow for things that may not be within your control.

See mistakes as a steppingstone on the way to success.

  1. Build your cheer squad.

Having a supportive network will help you build your self-confidence, support you through the tough times and celebrate your successes with you. There’s nothing more empowering than having people saying they know you can do it, people who will be there for you no matter what. Having your cheer squad will boost your energy and keep your motivation high when you need it most.

Surrounding yourself with people whose views and advice you trust means you don’t have to deal with problems alone. Connect with the right people who can act as a sounding board. Look for mentors, coaches, and buddies who will give you the benefit of their wisdom and experience. And as you learn you can pay it forward to others who might need your help and advice. Build a positivity circle of friends, family, and colleagues.

  1. Stop worrying about what other people think about you.

You can’t know what other people are thinking. It’s a waste of time second-guessing other people’s opinions of you. That will lock you into a circle of self-doubt and is likely to hold you back from trying anything new.

There will always be people who don’t agree with your ideas or vision. And you have a choice about how you react to that. You can cut the skeptics loose and vow to show them a thing or two, or you can use their skepticism to test your ideas. See if there’s a grain of truth in their criticism and if there is, act on it.

You should also stop comparing yourself to other people. You might look around you and see other people getting promotions, new jobs or having expensive holidays and think “what am I doing wrong?” But it’s not a race. Everyone is on their journey. Someone else’s achievement doesn’t diminish your achievements.

The only person you should be comparing yourself with is you! Know yourself, celebrate your strengths and achievements and what is working for you, and don’t worry about anyone else. 

  1. Keep your eye firmly on the prize.

Sometimes you can get consumed by all the busyness and the detail. You can get cast down by a missed opportunity or an unexpected obstacle. That’s when you need to look up and remember why you’re doing all of this, why you’re making those phone calls, having those meetings, writing those papers, doing a course, building a business etc. Keep a clear line of sight to where you want all this effort to get you. It can help if you visualize how you want your life to look when you have achieved your goal. How do you want to feel? How will your life have changed?

Keeping your big goal in front of mind will help you focus on what you need to do right now. Each of the little or not-so-little things you do today build up, taking you closer and closer to success.

  1. Celebrate all of your successes, both big and small.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by self-doubt, look back and see how much progress you’ve made. Every phone call, every sale, every meeting, every newsletter takes you a step closer to success.

It can help to make success visible. Use a planner or a whiteboard so you can highlight short, medium and long-term goals. Make a big deal of checking tasks off your to-do list and hitting your milestones. They are tangible proof that you are getting closer to achieving your big goal.

Celebrating your successes also helps to put those missteps into perspective. It also helps you cultivate gratitude for all the successes that you have had. If you look back down the chain of progress, you’ll recognize that a missed opportunity didn’t derail the whole project. You might even see where that mistake helped you course-correct and make better progress than you might have otherwise.


Failure is just another part of life. It’s natural to be imperfect, to make mistakes or forget things. By facing your fears, tackling your self-doubt, asking for help when you need it and keeping things in perspective you’ll be able to take control of your life.

You also see that success is made up of hundreds, if not thousands of small actions. Some steps are successful, others not so much but each one is a stepping stone to achieving your big goal.

Nobody enjoys failing, not even Edison! But you can take steps to remove the sting out of failure.  If you acknowledge that failure is a genuine possibility, you’ll arm yourself with the ability to deal with it when it comes. You’ll be able to react appropriately and take the right action. You won’t lose momentum or confidence, and you’ll bounce back more determined than ever. You’ve got this!




11 simple ideas to help you face fear


The first thing you need to understand about fear is that everyone is afraid. We all face fear or challenges in our lives at some point. Fear is a basic human emotion that has kept us alive for hundreds of thousands of years. Without a healthy sense of fear, our ancestors would have been eaten by saber-toothed tigers or T-rexes. It is a natural human response and without it we wouldn’t even be here today. Fear is what stops you from taking unnecessary risks and getting yourself into serious trouble.

But while fear has an important role in your life, fear can also keep you small and not achieving the outcomes that you want in life. It can stop you living a full life and following your dreams. But you can face your fears and overcome them. People do so every day. Fear is not in charge, you are! Here are eleven simple ways that you can overcome your fears and start achieving the life and outcomes that you want.

  1. Know your fears
    Firstly before you can start to deal with your fears, you need to know what you’re facing. Take some quiet introspective time to have a good look at the fears that are holding you back. What scares you the most? What worries are keeping you awake at night? What do you think you’ll never be able to achieve?Once you’ve pinned down your fears, you can start to tackle them, one by one, and take away their power. Being consciously aware of what your fears are and recognizing them is the first step in overcoming them. You can then utilize different tactics in order to face them.
  2. Change your mindset
    Mindset is a powerful weapon in dealing with your fears. Negative self-talk feeds self-doubt and eats away at your power to do anything to combat your worries. Luckily the human brain is adaptable, and it is not difficult to reprogram your mindset.Choose to take off the negative blinkers that distort your fears into seeming bigger than they are. You will often be surprised when you still your mind, how often your negative “chatterbox” has a say.


Fortunately when you do choose to start being more conscious of your negative chatter you can start by simply replacing words like ‘can’t,’ ‘impossible’ or ‘never’ with strong positive language like ‘I choose,’ ‘I can,’ and ‘I deserve.’ This might seem hard at first to keep catching yourself using negative words, but with diligent practice each day, you will soon find it will become a habit. Your subconscious mind will do exactly what you tell it to do. So if you are AWARE of your negative self talk you can start reprogramming it by re-framing and using positive words. You will be surprised how effective it is and over time this will work.


  1. Write it down
    Getting your fears on paper can take a lot of the sting out of them. Once they’re out of your head and on the page, they have a lot less energy, and you can start to assess them to see how much reality there actually is in them. Chances are, none of them will actually be true and it will be your negative self-talk and not reality.‘What if I screw up my presentation’ on paper immediately gives you somewhere to start. Ask questions, test your hypothesis. Why do you think that? What evidence is there to support this belief? And your answers will give you clues about how to deal with the fear. If you’re worried about your presentation skills, ask a colleague to help you rehearse. Get some public speaking training. Make sure your slides and handouts are robust and free of mistakes.


‘What if I’m not good enough’ you may tell yourself. Where did that belief actually come from? Did it come from an intelligent well-adjusted person or did it come from someone who does not know you at all? Why should this person’s opinion matter? Are they God? No. Chances are that this negative belief is a way for your subconscious mind to help protect you from making a fool of yourself or failing at something. You hold yourself back because you have a deep secondary gain by not doing it. When you dig deep you will be able to start working out the root thought and belief that made you decide to live small.


  1. Bite-sized steps
    Whether your fear is public speaking, nailing that job interview or skydiving, no one said you have to do it all in one go. You will improve your chances of success if you take your big goal and break it down into bite-sized pieces. Every little success will build a strong foundation of increased self-confidence and decreased fear.Write a list of things you fear or hate doing. If making a difficult phone call or talking with certain people fill you with dread, assign one scary task to do every day of the week. Check off each fear as you go and feel the weight of dread leave your body. That feeling of achievement and pride can become addictive, and you’ll set up a positive feedback loop. Soon the tasks you once dreaded won’t feel so bad after all, and you’ll check them off your list without thinking twice. What your doing is contradicting your fear and now you have evidence that you can indeed do anything you set your mind to. All those bite-sized achievements turn into steppingstones to success and self-confidence. They build on each other and you will expand your comfort zone.
  2. Outsmart your fear
    Sometimes, the best way to disarm what you fear is to outsmart it. Work out what your fear is telling you to do. Maybe it’s highlighting a weakness or a skill you need to develop. Turn it around and use it to your advantage.


Let’s use the public speaking fear as an example to highlight the point.

You can minimize your stage-fright by getting some training in public speaking or interview skills. Make sure your preparation is thorough. Do your research, make notes, write speaking notes and do some dry runs. Rehearse with a friend or colleague.

No one would expect you to parachute out of a plane without proper preparation, tackle your fears in the same way.

  1. Get support
    No one said you have to overcome your fears all by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help.At the very least you need informal support from the people who know you best and who believe in you. Your family and/or friends make the best cheer squad. They’ll be there for you to help you through the tough times and to toast your successes. Tell them what you’re trying to do and get their help.

    It’s always a good idea to find a mentor or coach you can trust. Someone you can go to for advice or connect you to the right people.

    And if you have trouble with anxiety, get professional help or learn how to meditate. You wouldn’t think twice about getting your car fixed, so why struggle through with fears when there are lots of professional options or self-healing modalities available online.

  2. Make a plan
    Dealing with fears means taking action. And the best way to do that is to have a plan. Treat it as a project and work out your big goals, intermediate goals and milestones, timelines, and resources. 

    Take the emotion out of your fears, and you’ll be able to tackle them in an objective and business-like way. They’ll stop being so overwhelming and turn out to be just another problem you can solve. You put the power back into your hands and the fear won’t hold power over you.


  1. Look for inspiration
    Everyone is afraid of something. Fear is a normal human emotion, and you can be certain that all the successful people you admire have had to overcome some fear in their life. Many famous actors have overcome crippling stage fright to pursue the career they love. Writers have to deal with the fear of the blank page or the fear of writing the follow-up to their best-seller. You can bet that the first men in space were afraid.Look up people you admire, find podcasts or articles or memoirs or TED talks. Find out what they overcame to be successful. Anything that you want to overcome you can be sure that there will be someone on this earth that has gone before you and has felt the feelings that you feel or has overcome adversity and has managed to achieve any number of outcomes. You are not on your own here.
  2. Find a technique that works for you
    There are all sorts of techniques you can use to overcome your fears. There is not a one size fits all approach to overcoming fears. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. You can keep a journal, meditate, or use visualizations to help identify and neutralize the fears that are holding you back. Some people have little rituals or things that they say to themselves. Others find positive quotes or affirmations can keep them motivated to keep going.There’s a huge plethora of options including but not limited to…apps, books, meditations, relaxing audios, websites and podcasts full of advice on how to overcome fear and anxiety. We are also adding more and more resources to The Gwyneth Montenegro Foundation every week to help you find something that will work for you.


  1. Get physical
    You may not realize that you can be holding fear and stress in your body all the time. If you’re always in fight or flight mode, adrenaline will flood your body. Do a quick body scan to see if you’re holding fear in your body. Is your jaw clenched, are your shoulders hunched, your fists clenched? Are you frowning?There are lots of ways you can relax those muscles and release the tensions you’re holding in. Choose from yoga to tai chi or meditation. Practice conscious breathing. You may not realize that your breathing is shallow, which can lead to increased anxiety because of reduced oxygen levels. Focus on slowing your breathing down, and feel your body relax. Your heart rate will lower, and your blood pressure will go down. You’ll feel a lot calmer straightway.

    The other way to help deal with stress and anxiety is to get out and exercise. Whether it’s a brisk walk or an hour in the gym, exercise will help to take your mind off what’s worrying you and reset your mood. I have often personally found that after a good exercise session I feel immensely better.


  1. Put things in perspective.
    Worry has a way of distorting reality, especially at 4 am when you’ve been lying awake fretting. The first thing to do, to shrink your fears back down to a manageable size, is to try and assess how likely your fear will come true. On a scale of one to ten, how likely is it that you’ll go broke, never have food or shelter or never get a job that you like?Fears can act as powerful filters and insight you to your power. They blind you to what you’ve already achieved. If you’re feeling pessimistic about your chances of success, step back for a minute and count up all the successes you already have under your belt. What mountains have you already climbed? What have you already overcome? Think of your successes…both big and small that you have already achieved. All those successes big and small brought you to where you are today. Don’t let fear downgrade that effort and take away from where you already are.




Being assertive without being aggressive.


“Be nice…”

From the time we begin to understand language, we’re told to be nice. We are told to share, to take turns, to be kind to others. To let others, go first when getting in line. Or to allow someone else to take the first cookie. Of course, it is good to be nice, to be helpful and kind. Unfortunately, many of us take being nice to the extreme in adulthood, and we can easily become doormats for others to use.

As a society, we often use the words “assertive” and “aggressive” interchangeably. But they don’t mean the same thing at all. In our attempts to “be nice” we often end up allowing other people to walk all over us. We become so caught up in taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. And in the end, we’re not much better than a doormat that’s seen too much use. It is ok to stand up for yourself.

The question then becomes a simple one: Is it possible to stand up for yourself without becoming a jerk? The answer lies first in understanding just what it means to be assertive and how that’s different from aggression. From there we’ll look at the trouble with being aggressive and how to get past that to where you can stand up for yourself. Then, believe it or not, we’ll talk about when it’s appropriate to be aggressive. Keep in mind that the patterns of the past don’t need to dictate the future. The journey from stepped on to stepping up isn’t as hard as you think.


Assertive vs. Aggressive

How can you tell when you’re assertive – which is good – from being aggressive – which usually isn’t? (Though aggression has its uses, as you’ll see later)

Start by asking these questions:


1.      How do you treat those around you?

Aggression doesn’t consider others. When you’re aggressive, you’re generally not thinking about whether someone is going to be hurt or if there might be negative consequences to your behavior.

An assertive individual values the input of others but also recognizes certain innate equality for everyone else. In that way, an assertive person acknowledges that while they have a right to express themselves, so do those around them. Being assertive doesn’t have to be at the cost of other people. There’s no competition to come out on top because the goal is merely to make their point and for people to hear them. End of story. There’s no winners or losers. There doesn’t have to be casualties in that situation. The outcome is different when trying to reason with someone who’s aggressive.


2.      How do you view yourself?

Aggression has to always come out on top. An aggressive person has to win in all things – whether it’s in conversation, in sports, in relationships, or in life itself. But the aggressive person not only wants to win – in their minds they deserve to win.

Assertive people see themselves as equals with the world around them. That’s because they not only value what others have to offer, but they also value themselves as well.


3.      What happens when someone else is talking?

The aggressive person doesn’t typically listen to anyone because their total focus is on what they want. It’s not unusual for them to talk over the other person, interrupting them, or otherwise showing a casual disrespect to what the other person has to say. Aggressive people will often be loud and abusive as well.

Assertive people recognize that the other people have valuable input and listen when others are speaking. Yes, they expect their turn to speak, but they recognize that they’ll get a turn too.


 How to be Assertive

When asked how to be assertive, your first answer might be to ‘stand up for yourself.’ But sometimes that’s easier said than done. The good news is there’s a certain set of steps to help you make your needs known in a way that’s not aggressive but is assertive.

  1. Start with asking for what you want without assuming that the person you’re talking to already knows.
  2. Establish the boundaries of the conversation. If the other person is being aggressive either shut them down or walk away.
  3. Hold the other person in the conversation accountable for their actions. If they claim something or act aggressively, call them on it.
  4. Express yourself clearly and succinctly. Maintain a calm, even tone and speak to the other person with respect. If this is proving difficult, then step back until you can come back with confidence.
  5. Explain what you want and why. Express why it’s important to you, and why you feel this should be important to them.
  6. Allow yourself the idea that you might succeed and be prepared to accept success gracefully. Likewise, acknowledge failure with the same grace, even if you plan to try again.


Why do we have trouble being assertive?

Even with a clear-cut set of instructions, sometimes it’s hard to be assertive. Why do we struggle with something so basic as standing up for ourselves?

A lot of it goes back to our childhoods as mentioned earlier. We learn:

  • Don’t offend others
  • Don’t ask for things – it’s rude
  • Don’t want things – that’s selfish
  • Don’t hurt people’s feelings – they won’t be your friends if you do

Then add to that we were rewarded every time we went out of our way to help someone else or to put aside our own needs for the sake of someone else’s.

Being assertive means having to let go of a lot of programming. Until you build the habit, you’re going to need to be consciously aware of what you’re doing and why. Don’t be surprised if your automatic response goes against being assertive for a while.


Know when to be assertive and stand up for yourself

When should you be assertive? The answer varies from situation to situation, but some general guidelines should help.

  1. When you have a want or need that you’re not sure people realize you have. It’s up to you to make your needs known – people cannot read minds!
  2. When people don’t seem to know what action you want them to take. You’re going to want to jump in and make sure people know what you want. Ask questions. Verify your goals with them. That especially helps when you’re trying to make decisions without a lot of data. Sometimes you need to be assertive to push those items through to get on to other things that are more important.
  3. When you need to find common ground with someone else or in a group. Being assertive here will help you to figure out what universal truth draws you together and will give you a place from which to work and progress.
  4. When the boundaries of your relationships are muddled. By asserting where you stand emotionally with another person, you can better establish the depth and future of the relationship.
  5. When you need to get support for a cause. Being assertive can help put the focus where you need it to be, especially if that focus is already wandering.
  6. When you feel like you or someone else is being marginalized or treated badly. Or when you need to defuse something that’s fast getting out of control. It’s always important to stand up for those who remain unheard or who don’t have a voice. In a volatile situation being calm and assertive can take the heat out of something that could escalate into something violent.

In every case here, you’re either standing up for yourself or are making yourself a representative of a group and standing up for the group as a whole. While there might be other situations where you find you need to be assertive, this should at least give you a general guideline as to when it’s appropriate to be assertive.


Is there ever a time to be aggressive?

Before you go and think that there’s never a cause to be aggressive, you need to recognize that aggression does serve a purpose. When you’re dealing with a situation that calls for clear winners and losers, for example, aggression isn’t only expected by necessary. You couldn’t play football or fight in a war without aggression.

Some places here aggression is necessary:

  • Personal safety. When defending yourself or someone else from a physical attack
  • When your group needs a pep talk (think of a coach with their team before a big game)
  • When rallying a group behind a cause
  • When you have a situation where you need to ‘win the day’



When you think how important it is to stand up for yourself, it’s easy to see where being assertive is not only beneficial but necessary for your mental health and well-being.

The trap of being a “people pleaser” feels so good until you realize just what it costs you to put everyone else’s needs before your own constantly. The long-term consequences to your self-esteem are deadly. You do it often enough, and you’ll forget that your needs matter, or even that YOU matter.

Learning how to be assertive will change your life.




Alternative Ways to Reboot Your Self-Worth


The stresses and strains of modern life can take their toll on our feelings of self-worth. And in the last ten years with the increasing pressures of social media, the 24-hour news cycle and the dissolving of life/work boundaries can mean it’s not unusual to feel powerless and overwhelmed by demands.

Add to this the constant comparison with what can seem to be the perfect lives of other people, as displayed across all your social media platforms and in advertising, and you can begin to understand how it can erode our dignity.

You might feel stuck in your negative mindset, stuck with the negative self-beliefs and expectations that were laid down in your early childhood. Everyone was telling you who you were, what you could or couldn’t do, how you were expected to behave and what you were expected to do. These messages stay with us into adulthood and are not always serving our best interest.

But your mindset, your set of beliefs and expectations about yourself and the world, can be changed. You can choose to reprogram your subconscious with beliefs that can help you feel better about yourself. Even better, just deciding to reboot your self-worth is a huge step in the right direction.

Approaches that may once have seemed a bit out there are now mainstream. Self-hypnosis, for example, is no longer for old hippies. Now you can easily incorporate this technique into your life by using a variety of apps or you can buy an audio MP3 downloadable hypnosis recording which will guide you, to a variety of outcomes eg stop smoking, lose weight, better self-confidence, dating to name just a few.  And the internet makes the facilities even easier to find and to learn about, so you can easily discover what works best for you.

The following approaches are accessible and effective and can be used separately or in combination:

  • NLP (Neuro linguistic programming)
  • Meditation
  • Affirmations
  • Visualization
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Hypnosis downloadable audios


Changing your Negative Self-Talk 

Changing your negative self-talk, your negative mindset, is a critical element in all these approaches. Negative self-talk, also known as your Inner Critic, is perhaps the dominant aspect of poor self-esteem. It keeps you down and passive. Negative self-talk keeps us small and safe. It reasons that if you don’t take risks, you won’t get hurt. And it speaks with the voices of the convincing adults from your childhood.

The good news is that you don’t need a magic wand to change your Inner Critic. You just need to look it square in the eye and challenge it. YOU are in charge of your destination after all and you can CHOOSE to listen to this negative self-talk or do something about it.

Try this short exercise to start bringing your negative beliefs about yourself out into the light.

  • Close your eyes and take three deep, slow breaths.
  • Relax your mind and then think of five things you like about yourself, and five things you don’t like.
  • Observe your reactions, the images that come into your head, the words or phrases that pop up.
  • Write them down.

I know this might be a bit of a mind read, but chances are the ‘don’t like’ column is quite a bit longer than the ‘like’ one.  For the moment just look at the ‘don’t like’ column. How do they make you feel? Anxious? Guilty? Powerless?

And now the ‘like’ column. Are these good strong likes or are they a bit cautious, a bit tentative?

The images, phrases, words, and emotions that these traits evoke tell you what your self-beliefs are. Negative beliefs can make you feel anxious, afraid or guilty. But written down in the cold light of day you can look at them and judge for yourself.  Are you, in fact, selfish/stupid/clumsy/no good with money? What is the evidence? Where does that belief originate? If you close your eyes and focus, whose voice is saying that? A parent maybe, an older sibling, a former partner or colleague? A so called ‘friend’?

Negative thinking feeds on fear. Not the reasonable fear of danger if you’re in the wilderness surrounded by bears, but the generalized anxiety and fear of failure that surrounds us in the twenty-first century. So many of us live in a constant state of fight or flight. We have countless calls on our time and attention, and we’re always trying to get ahead. We are often juggling many responsibilities and dealing with work, family life and just trying to get through the everyday! We’re stressed, and our stress hormones are invariably high, keeping us in a negative thinking mode. If your self-beliefs and self-worth are grounded in fear, anxiety, expectation, or failure, the stress and negative thinking caused by that continually reinforces the problems and the vicious cycle continues! It’s like going around and around in a hamster wheel!

The way to change this is to reprogram your mind. I have done this with my clients through NLP (neuro linguistic programming), timeline therapy and hypnosis. There are also other techniques and useful modalities that I highly recommend…like meditation, affirmations, visualization, EFT, self-hypnosis and hypnosis audios (which I also do). These all draw on something you’re already very good at and turn it around. Imagination. The power to imagine possible further scenarios or to visualize past events is key to stop “catastrophizing” (negatively imagining the future) and brooding or rehashing what you imagine as past failures.

You can use these techniques by themselves, or in combination to positively reset your self-worth. Let’s go over briefly some of these techniques.


Neuro Linguistic Programming

NLP can be used for personal development, phobias, improvement in the workplace performance, personal happiness to anxiety disorders.

The popularity of neuro-linguistic programming has become widespread since it started in the 1970s. NLP was developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler, who believed it was possible to identify patterns of thoughts and behaviors of successful individuals and teach them to others. NLP was made famous by Tony Robbins in the 1980s and has helped people achieve many different goals.

NLP uses perceptual, behavioral, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions. NLP relies on language processing. NLP is not hypnotherapy. It operates through the conscious use of language to bring about changes in someone’s thoughts and behavior. An NLP coach can guide you through to identifying your limiting beliefs, patterns and behaviors and help set you on the right track.



Meditation is a powerful way of dealing with the stress of twenty-first-century living and builds your self-dignity. It’s one of the best ways to gain self-knowledge and to reflect on your true self. It gives you the chance to unplug from daily life for a while and deeply tune into your inner wisdom. Within your inner wisdom is where you will find and become acquainted with the real you who is powerful and awesome.

A meditation practice will positively impact your self-worth because it gives you the space to find it within, and to love yourself just the way you are. It keeps your focus in the present, undistracted by thoughts of the past or anxieties about the future. As a bonus, meditation is also good for your physical health. Your stress levels and your blood pressure will go down, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll think more clearly.

You can find meditation groups and classes in most areas, or you could even use one of the great apps available to learn to meditate. Many of the apps have guided meditations and instructions to help you get started.



Affirmations can sometimes get a bad rap – those silly memes that pop up on social media can seem simplistic and even patronizing. If you’re not feeling great about things, then being told that life is all unicorns and rainbows is not helpful.

But personalized affirmations can be useful tools in replacing some of that negative self-talk with messages that are more realistic and encouraging. You can combine these positive words with other techniques such as EFT and visualization to add extra punch to your self-work.

If you do the foundation work of identifying your negative self-talk and beliefs, you can then turn them around – come up with counter-messages that are meaningful for you. As long as you write these positive affirmations in the present tense, whatever resonates with you is what will work. Write them on post-it notes and place them around your home. Put affirmations on your phone calendar, so they flash up as reminders and start your morning off by reading them or saying them with an enthusiastic voice. Repetition creates its own hypnotic positive talk to your subconscious and trains it that THIS is now your new reality. Your subconscious mind will do what you tell it to do, so affirmations can actually be very helpful if you set aside time each day, or on your morning commute to work (in your head) or while you are exercising. Make it a habit and it will be then automatic to you and you will reap the rewards.  



You probably don’t realize that you already ‘do’ visualizations every day. Whenever you daydream or think about your next holiday and even what you want to have for lunch – that’s visualizing. Visualizing is just imagining what you want.

You’re already very good at visualizing, and using visualization consciously harnesses that powerful tool! But instead of imagining adverse events, now you control the process and focus that power on getting what you want, starting with more self-confidence. You can visualize yourself in different situations being confident and capable, for example. There’s no wrong way to do this, and it takes as little as 5-10 minutes a day to activate the part of your brain that creates your reality.

You can incorporate visualizations into your meditation practice, journal them or even make a vision board with the things you experience during visualization. 


Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping)

At first, you might think Emotional Freedom Technique looks as odd, wacky and as funny as it sounds. But it does work.

EFT uses the same principle as acupressure and uses physical tapping reinforcement together with positive affirmations to clear emotional blocks. It can help with an issue that is causing you difficulty, such as one of your negative self-beliefs. Using this as an example, you might repeat to yourself “Even though I am feeling X, I still completely love and accept myself.” At the same time as saying this, you would tap in a set pattern through nominated parts of the face and body.

To learn more about this process, search for EFT online. You’ll discover thousands of videos and websites that will give you all the details. This could be an option that may work for you. Just remember there is no right or wrong modality, or no wrong or right one that is a one size fits all…it’s about finding ways that will work for YOU!


Hypnotherapy and Self-Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy is based on the power of suggestion and using the unconscious mind to change what may seem like fixed beliefs or states of mind. You don’t lose consciousness, and you can come out of the hypnotic state at any time. Contrary to the popular view of hypnosis, you always stay in control . It is powerful and can help you dig deep and change those negative messages laid down in childhood and reinforced by expectation and experiences.

Hypnotherapy has been used by psychotherapists for decades to change patterns of thought and feelings that are no longer serving you. It is extremely effective for challenging self-doubt and boosting self-esteem.

You can even learn how to hypnotize yourself. Self-hypnosis draws on visualization and gets you into a relaxed meditative state to replace that negative self-talk with more positive self-beliefs. There are a variety of books and programs available to teach you simple techniques for self-hypnosis.


Hypnosis audios

These use relaxing music and the power of suggestion for your unconscious mind to fix limiting beliefs you may have about yourself or states of mind. They can be anything from quitting smoking, losing weight, going off to sleep, building confidence, millionaire mindset and so on and so forth. They are an incredibly powerful way to help build the language and thoughts needed for you to change habits and negative language, so that you can get the desired outcome.




Part of the process of rebooting your self-worth is taking control and believing that you can change your beliefs about yourself and your capabilities. And you can decide to do it your way, that way that suits you best.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything you can do…there are more options available than ever before for you to take control of your life and work through the beliefs and thought patterns that are holding you back from being your best you. Just realize that you CAN change your beliefs about yourself and live the life you have dreamed of…you are NOT stuck!



Your past does not have to be a prison sentence.

What The Shawshank Redemption can teach you about making the best of a bad situation.


In dealing with any kind of trauma or stress, I believe one of the most vital things one can learn from it is that it does not have to “become you”. You do not have to have your whole identity made up as “the trauma” or in other words, your past does not equal your future. You can heal from trauma, betrayal, rejection or even that chatterbox in your head that tells you that you are a complete failure or that you will never be good enough.

I want to write a post about the all-time classic movie, “The Shawshank Redemption” because it has some great learnings within.

 “The Shawshank Redemption” (based on Stephen King’s short story, Rita Hayworth, and the Shawshank Redemption) is about a successful banker, Andy Dufresne, who is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife. I am sure many of you have seen it.

Andy Dufresne is falsely accused. He is sentenced for a murder that he did not commit. I cannot imagine serving time in prison for a crime I did not commit but, in a way, a lot of a do serve time in prison for crimes we didn’t commit.

But we serve our time by being the “prisoner” in our own minds. We punish ourselves for things that happened to us that are not our fault. My life’s journey and why I even started The Gwyneth Montenegro Foundation are very much linked to my own story of being a prisoner in my mind, for the crime I did not commit. I was drugged, taken away and gang raped. I then in turn believed it was my fault. A lot of clients of mine that I talk to punish themselves in various ways for a lifetime for things that were not their fault. This is quite common.

We certainly can imprison ourselves for something we didn’t do …maybe not a physical jail like Andy Dufresne was sent to …but a sometimes equally insidious one of that being the limitations and punishments that we give ourselves.

Getting back to the movie, for nineteen years Dufresne quietly chips away at his goal to escape, by literally chipping the wall in his cell – a little bit every day – until one day he reaches his goal and escapes.

His jail buddy, Red, comments that all it took “was pressure and time.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any movie replayed so many times on TV. It really intrigued me. So I did some research and found out that according to IMDB, The Shawshank Redemption is the second most popular movie of all time with The Godfather taking first place! That’s quite the accomplishment given how long The Godfather has been out.

Why is this movie so popular? I don’t really know the answer. But I think it’s because many people feel like they’re living in a prison and have been given a life sentence, doing work they really hate or that they are a prisoner to their own limiting mindset. They want to break free from their shackles and their self-imposed limitations on their lives.

More than anything else, most people want FREEDOM! And Shawshank delivers that moment of freedom. It’s a beautiful story that makes the soul weep with joy and provides the hope and promise of being human. It provides one with hope that they too can escape their prison and live out their true destiny on their own terms.

The great thing about Shawshank is that it also provides a solution: by quietly chipping away at your main goal and consistently taking action every day, you will achieve the success and freedom you have been longing for. With ‘pressure and time’ you can take the darkest coal and turn it into the most brilliant, most magnificent diamond the world has ever seen.

It’s true!