Bust your inner gremlin – confidence boosting tips for working mums

red hairy alienFiona Clark is the founder of Inspired Mums, and is passionate about helping women find fulfilling, family friendly roles. She founded Inspired Mums career and confidence coaching in 2006 to help women fulfill their potential and find family-friendly careers. Here she wants to share her top tips on gaining confidence and busting your inner gremlin

You’re all dressed up, freshly printed CV under the arm and on your way to your first job interview in years.  You want this job more than anything. On the way there, you try hard to have calm thoughts, but a loud, nasty voice keeps interfering:

“Your brain has turned to mush, your best skills are one-handed nappy changing and outwitting a toddler in I-Spy. Do you really expect anyone to take you seriously?”

“You have a gaping hole in your CV. Looking after children and gossiping at coffee mornings don’t count as work! “

Sounds familiar? Well, say hello to your inner gremlin: The voice inside your head that is constantly chatting to you. Some of us are lucky enough to have a kind, encouraging inner voice that helps us be the best we can and reach our potential.

But, if you’re a mum and you’ve stayed at home to look after your children for a while, chances are your inner voice has turned nasty.

3 signs that your inner gremlin has hijacked your thoughts

1. You compare yourself with every mum you see and imagine them all to be cleverer, wealthier, more successful, happier and thinner than you.

2. You have a dream job in mind, but it seems miles away from your daily reality and you don’t have a clue how to make it happen.

3. You can’t decide what to have for breakfast, never mind taking big decisions about your life.


If this sounds like you, your inner gremlin has taken charge and is blocking your way to success. You need to do something and do it fast.

Why? Your subconscious can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction, so if you keep telling yourself you can’t do something, it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Say you go into an interview telling yourself how rubbish you are, you’ll be so nervous you’ll struggle to get a word out, never mind sell yourself.

If you then don’t get the job, you will reinforce this belief with:
“I knew I wasn’t any good at interviews…I don’t know why I bother,” continuing a vicious cycle.  You’ll have missed the chance to pick out the positives and identify the areas that need polishing.

So how do you tame that inner gremlin? Here are my 5 top tips

  1. Tune into your inner gremlin and write down what it’s telling you – both positive and negative.  You’ll soon realise whether you’re being kind or too harsh to yourself.
  2. Interrupt yourself every time you hear a negative statement in your head. Do something physical such as shaking your hands or touching your head to block the thought.
  3. Flip it – replace any negative statement with a positive thought. Turn “I haven’t got the experience for the job” into “I have many relevant skills that will make me successful in that job.”
  4. Don’t just say it – believe your positive statement. Draw up a list of all the reasons why it’s true. For example, “I have developed budgeting and negotiating skills during my years as a stay-at-home mum.”
  5. Repeat the new belief statement over and over to yourself, the dog, anyone who will listen. Retrain your brain to believe it. Treat it like a doctor’s prescription: repeat 3 times a day for at least 28 days. This is how long it takes to change negative thought patterns.

Try my techniques to keep your inner gremlin on a tight leash.  You’ll be surprised how much further you can go when your inner voice is on your side – Pablo Picasso once said: “I’m always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.”  His inner gremlin was well trained!

Let me know what your inner gremlin is telling you and which techniques have worked for you in the comments box below.

fiona clark Fiona says, ‘I spent 10 years climbing the corporate ladder working in various commercial roles appearing to have a successful career but deep down I knew I wasn’t on the right path. I decided to take control and had some career coaching to work out exactly what I wanted to do.  The coaching opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me that were fulfilling and offered the flexibility I wanted as a mum.

If you are interested in understanding how 1-2-1 coaching can boost your self-belief and confidence – please contact [email protected]  or visit www.inspiredmums.co.uk

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  1. 23 October 2013 / 12:19

    Thanks so much for this article. It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I went for my first interview yesterday, my first in quite a while since having children and working at home as a freelancer. I am now ready to re-enter the ‘proper’ world of work but that nagging gremlin in my head has really made my confidence waver, particularly as I’ve been out of full-time work for almost 10 years. However, I know I have lots to offer, and lots of transferable skills, so I’ll be using your tips to help me overcome my confidence issues, particularly when I start my new job next week. I am starting small, with a short contract but actually getting through the interview and getting the job has shown me that I am still employable and I can make a go of my career, alongside caring for my family.


    • 23 October 2013 / 19:33


      Interested to read your response to my blog… Thank you for your comments.

      Brilliant awareness that you realised it was your confidence that was waivering – not the reality of what you have to offer to a potential employer. A lot of my coaching clients use short contracts to bridge that gap and get back into an employed role – good luck! Hope it goes well for you.

      Fiona @inspiredmums

  2. 23 October 2013 / 14:35

    Excellent piece, Fiona!

    However, I think you are being too optimistic about how easy it actually is to tame an inner gremlin.

    My inner gremlin is telling me I look – and am – too old to compete in the workplace. And I can’t afford plastic surgery (that’s not my inner gremlin talking; that’s the state of my finances). So, can you beat that gremlin?

    I look forward to reading the next in your gremlin ‘series’!


    • 23 October 2013 / 20:29


      Thank you for your feedback and interesting perspective!

      Let me share a little story with you. I once coached a guy who was long-term unemployed and was in his late 40’s. He was convinced that the reason he wasn’t being successful at interview was down to his age, and his gremlin kept saying to himself ‘I’m too old to get a job – there are so many keen youngsters competing for the same positions’. Then – one day – he was bowled over when his Dad – who was well into his 60’s – phoned him to say had come out of retirement and got himself a new job!

      That gave my client a jolt – and he started questioning himself. He realised he had stopped applying for lots of jobs (because he was convinced he was too old and wouldn’t get them – so what was the point) and when he did go for an interview, his lack of self-confidence was written all over his face and he wasn’t putting his ‘best foot forward.’

      An optimist isn’t deluded or arrogant about their reality – they simply see the positives in whatever the situation is. For anyone who feels like you do – I would say this: forget the plastic surgery – embrace who you are and see all of the positives in yourself – your breadth of work and life experiences, your skill-set, your network and so on.

      Once you are clear on what’s great about you – the key is then being able to articulate to others what you have to offer so you land that job!

  3. 23 October 2013 / 14:39

    I need to banish my gremlins! I’m constantly putting myself down and worrying about what others think, even silly things! Today i felt really low after one of the nursery teachers reminded me to take James bag, which i had put down to sort put some gloves on my 2 year old, who then decided she didn’t want them on anyway… I’m a mum to 3 young children and i probably shouldn’t beat myself up so much

    • 23 October 2013 / 19:40


      Thank you for your response.

      Yes – totally agree – don’t be so hard on yourself! When your self-esteem is low, it’s easy to assume that people are looking down on you or criticising you in some way, rather than simply helping you. The example you give in your comments is a good example of this! Often our perception isn’t the reality, or representative of how others are looking at the same situation.

      My top tip would be to work on being kinder and more forgiving to yourself – a good way of thinking about this is to treat yourself in the same way you’d treat to your best friend or favourite person. It’s crazy how we can be so self-critical and yet really kind and forgiving of others!

      Let me know how you get on…