When HLN’s Robin Meade, then a newscaster in Chicago, began having panic attacks, she assumed it was a problem with her heart or lungs. The sunny, perky, successful 30-year-old career woman had no reason to suspect a lack of self-confidence was at the root of the frightening physical episodes.
Since she was a child, Robin says, she had placed her value largely in what others thought of her. The challenges of her job in Chicago brought that tendency out in a big way. “I had eight bosses in 6 years, so I got good at figuring out what each one wanted. I would ‘shape shift,’ fitting the bill for each one’s version of perfection,” Robin explains. “But when you do that, you’re giving away little pieces of your true authentic self.”
A decade later, Robin, living in Atlanta and anchoring HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade, has learned to value her own opinion of herself instead of seeking approval from others, and she wants to help others do the same. In her new book, Morning Sunshine! How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too, a New York Times bestseller, Robin shares her struggle with anxiety and a confidence shortage, and she offers others tools and suggestions for boosting self-confidence.
“I knew that I had always put my value on how ‘you’ view me—instead of putting my own opinion equal to others, it was below theirs,” Robin says. “I didn’t know what to call it at the time, but later I put it together as self-esteem.”
Like many people who go into careers in front of the camera, Robin says she has a “veneer” of self-confidence that served her well for years, but her first panic attack, which struck just as she was about to go on the air with a breaking news story, was a wake-up call—her body trying to get her mind’s attention.
Recognizing that Robin needed help facing her problem, her husband secretly invited his chiropractor to their Chicago home for a consultation. The chiropractor was experienced in doing what she called “breakthroughs,” helping people overcome limiting thoughts about themselves. Once Robin got past her initial resistance and embarrassment with talking about what she was going through, she opened up and found that the chiropractor could help her find just the perspective and resources she needed within herself.
“She twisted me around to look at myself without even laying a hand on me!” Robin says. “She helped me to see my blind spots. I learned that whatever you’re fearing, you have to ask yourself, ‘How is it benefiting me?’ I became thankful for my talent for getting in front of people. I also discovered that the root cause of my problem was that, from an early age, I thought the best thing in life is to be liked—like all people pleasers.”
Through her process of self-discovery, Robin says she was able to “rewire” herself and change the way she views herself and others. “Now I say, ‘If they don’t like me, it’s not the end of the world.’ Being admired is not as important as being respected; respect is higher than being admired. But being respected means you may not be liked all the time.”
Robin’s workday starts at 4 a.m., and she says even though her schedule can get hectic (in addition to being a new author, she also is dabbling in songwriting in Nashville), she focuses on seeing everything as an opportunity. “My mom reminds me, when it feels like too many people are tugging on your pant leg, that it’s good to be wanted. In other words—make the most of every day and the opportunities around you, even if it is hectic sometimes!”
Robin’s Confidence Boosters
- Realize that ‘No’ is a complete sentence. You don’t say, ‘Yes, because …,” so you don’t need to give reasons for saying no. It’s important to set boundaries for your own sanity.
- Do a self-assessment. Be honest with yourself about what your gifts are and write them down. Writing something down makes your brain think you’re taking action. You can refer back to it later, turning that mirror to look at yourself.
- Stay in the present mind. You will be less apt to feel guilt about the past and worry about the unknown of the future.
- Remember that the moment you stop fearing and dreading your negative feelings is the instant you give them permission to stop.
- Look deeper than what you do for a living to define yourself. Your job is what you do, not who you are.