Time to believe in yourself
About a decade ago, Jennifer Outerbridge-Smith took a good look at herself and realised something was wrong.
In her behaviour, in the way she made decisions, she never put herself first.
She worked out how to change that and began offering workshops, teaching people how to become more assertive and communicate better. Improving self-esteem is the focus of her latest, which takes place next week at the Women's Resource Centre.
“We tend to think women who need help with self-esteem are homeless, abused, or unemployed,” she said. “This workshop is not just for those women, but for everyone.
“Every woman, in one shape or form, has their self-esteem challenges; every woman can relate to this.”
Like many women, Ms Outerbridge-Smith said she would often ignore unpleasant behaviour rather than confront people about their actions. One of the first times she broke that habit was when she felt a colleague had been disrespectful to her during a meeting.
“Sometimes people are unaware of how their words are affecting people,” she said. “The first person I spoke up to was speechless. They said, ‘I didn't realise I was doing that. I am so sorry'. They apologised. After that I felt good about myself. I had set a boundary and they respected that.
“[It] could have gone in a completely different direction if I started going off on them, cursing and yelling, but it was a nice, quiet conversation.
“You get a better reception that way rather than just telling someone where to go.” It's a point she makes during her workshops. Part of her aim is to give women the confidence to draw boundaries and make better choices.
“It is about taking a look at your own behaviours and decisions and looking at your tribe. Who is around you? What kind of support system do you have? Are you consciously making choices that serve your greater good? We build up this big story about what will happen when we take that big step.”
Taking that leap helped put the 50-year-old on the path she's on today. Although she now works in telecommunications, Ms Outerbridge-Smith was a waitress when she moved here from Canada 12 years ago.
She loved singing and was thrilled when Swizzle Inn's entertainer, Ray Pasnen, started calling her up to join him.
Little pep talks gave her the confidence to overcome her fears.
“I'd say, ‘Have you ever failed when you sing? No! You're going to be great,'” she said. “I had to pump myself up.”
However, while those early performances gave her the assurance to hit the stage with local bands Out of Bounds and Stiletto 5, she had to work a bit harder to overcome her eagerness to please others.
“I wouldn't say I was told by my parents to be good — I was innately a well-behaved child, independent and responsible. I think my mother really showed me how to be caring, kind and loving to other people. But I think that a lot of people my age, and possibly older, forget the piece about making sure you are taken care of also. We tend to please, please, please everyone then at the end you're like, wait a minute ...
“In some cases the consequences are you could be in danger or you are in a position where you have feelings and love that person and that behaviour is not being reciprocated.”
Her goal next week is to provide women with “tangible tools” that they can take home after the workshop.
“I want them to leave feeling a little bit better about themselves and give them those tools that can actually help change them if they are really dedicated about changing habits,” Ms Outerbridge-Smith said. “This is not meant to be a Band-Aid workshop where you will leave and your whole life will be different and you will be a different person. You have to be mindful, and it is a daily practice. You have to be the one who creates this change in your life. You are in charge of your own life and you have to be the ones to take those steps and make the changes.”
• Jennifer Outerbridge-Smith's self-esteem workshop takes place at 5.30pm at the Women's Resource Centre on October 24. Tickets are $35. For more information: 295-3882, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.wrcbermuda.com