Andrea McLean has opened up about self-confidence, revealing she lost her spark as she got older and only rediscovered it in her 50s.
The former Loose Women presenter, 52, says that despite her successful career in television her self-belief had been "whittled away" over the years, after hitting various bumps in the road.
It was reaching her milestone birthday and seeking support that helped her regain her mojo.
Speaking on the Women’s Health Going For Goal podcast, the 52-year-old said: “I’ve always been a very brave person, I’ve always done brave things, and I’ve always pushed myself to do things that are uncomfortable and difficult, and that I didn’t necessarily know what the outcome was going to be.
“I’ve done this since I was little, I’ve carried on doing that my whole life. What happened as I went through my life was that I realised that through life’s bumps in the road my self-confidence had been whittled away, and my self-belief had been whittled away.
“So although I was still really successful in my career, and doing really well, and pushing through any phase I may have, personally I’d lost that spark.
“And I would say it took until probably I was 50 until I managed to get that back again.”
After suffering a breakdown, McLean quit Loose Women in December 2020 after 13 years and re-trained to become a fully certified life coach alongside her businessman husband Nick Feeney.
Speaking about her mental wellbeing, she said: “I finally spoke up and put my hand up.
“I’ve always been the eldest child, oldest girl, ‘I can sort this out, it’ll all be all right, I’ll find a way through it’, and it was quite hard to put my hand up and say, ‘Actually I’m really struggling and I need some help’.
“Best thing I ever did, because if you don’t ask for help, you won’t receive it – people aren’t mind-readers.
“And so I had therapy and I had coaching – it totally changed everything and it changed my perspective.
“I realised I’d always been brave at pushing myself towards things that I wanted to do, and actually that’s a very easy kind of bravery.
“I’d been brave at getting through circumstances that had been put upon me, because then you’re trying to find a way to survive, whether it’s for yourself or for your children, but the bravery that we need in the day-to-day actually is a whole different thing.”
How to stay confident in mid-life
As McLean highlights, getting older can have a huge impact on your self-confidence.
We all have times when we don't feel too good about ourselves, but when a lack of confidence becomes a long-term problem, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health.
Gillian McMichael, transformational coach and founder of Full Circle Global, says this self-esteem dip can occur as we tackle different life stages.
“As you get older, many find themselves drifting away from the things they originally loved and wanted to do," she explains. "With more years come more responsibilities, worries and roles to fulfil. You might be a parent, a spouse or performing a specific role at work. You can easily become defined by other expectations of you, and the roles you find yourself playing in life."
McMichael says these alternative roles can create little room to pursue passions, and their absence, can leave you without a sense of direction.
"When kids leave home, without the parent role, you might feel lost without a purpose," she continues. "Without the job you dislike but have grown used to, you can feel unproductive and aimless."
This often causes a lack of self-belief and motivation.
"You become a passive passenger, a supporting act within your own life," McMichael continues. "When you’re adrift like this, all kinds of emotions arise: a lack of worthiness, weakness, sadness, failure, stupidity and bitterness. The feelings are usually led by fear."
Watch: This is the key to feeling happier at work
Thankfully, while it can feel like an uphill challenge, there are some ways to boost your flagging confidence and rediscover your mojo.
Redefine who you are
Ask yourself who you really are and give yourself permission to accept the answers that come to mind.
"Keep asking yourself until you break past the roles that you have found imposed upon you – what do you really love? What is your true purpose?" McMichael says.
"When you do this, you begin to gain clarity, the fog lifts, and you start to get closer to your real self. You start to see yourself not for who you have become but for who you truly are.
"It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. The more layers you peel away, the closer you get to your true self, to the core of who you are."
The problem, she adds, is often that we don’t know who the real ‘you’ is.
"But with a bit of exploration, you can reacquaint yourself. True confidence comes from being sure of who you are, your purpose and what you have chosen for yourself.”
Recognise your strengths
We often think about CVs for jobs but life coach Natalie Trice suggests writing down all the achievements in your life to date, then sitting back and reading them.
"Raising a family is no mean feat, running your own business is something to be proud of and getting to the gym four times a week is pretty admirable if you are spinning hundreds of other plates at the same time," she says.
"List everything, big, small and hardly there at all and then when you a having a moment of self-doubt, read the list and remember how great you are."
Fill your skills gap
For areas in your life where you don’t feel super-strong, Trice suggests looking into training to give you the confidence you need.
"From free online courses to a full-blown degree, knowledge can give you the boost you need to step into your power and embrace your age."
Build positive relationships
If you find that certain people act as triggers, be that colleagues, celebrities or mums at the school gate, don’t interact with them.
"Have a spring clean of your social media feeds, change your desk in the office and maybe look at putting the kids on the school bus a couple of days a week to avoid playground politics," suggests Trice.
"You are brilliant as you are, so focus on your best bits and let others deal with theirs.
"Don't believe the hype. We all know that social media is clips of the best moments so don’t let your self-confidence take a battering because of the highlight reels of strangers."
Be kind to yourself
We are often our harshest critics, but being gentle at times when you feel like being self-critical will make a big difference to your inner confidence.
Consider what you'd say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better (and kinder) advice to others than we do to ourselves.
Still feeling a confidence dip? The NHS says psychological therapies like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help.
You can refer yourself for psychological therapies on the NHS, or if you prefer, you can talk to a GP first and they can refer you.
You could also find a private therapist. Make sure they're registered with a professional body.
Additional reporting PA.