In my role as a coach and mentor, I’m very aware that the biggest challenge for most of the women and men I work with is their confidence in their own abilities. Often called ‘imposter syndrome’, this is true of even the most senior and successful people.
Ironically, even though my life is spent coaching or teaching others to find ways to interact with each other in teams, and as leaders, I still find have to work on my own confidence in certain aspects of my life. Professionally I am confident and comfortable, but personally I am subject to the same insecurities as everyone else.
Having studied this subject academically and ‘in real life’, I have learned some things that I would like to share that they might help you if you have confidence issues. Here are some insights into how you can build your own confidence, and, by sharing these tips, help build the confidence of others.
Feelings are not facts
Our lack of confidence is often the result of the way we feel about something and that feeling will often stem from a belief. Our beliefs are not inherent; we aren’t born with them, we learn them. The good news is that if we have learnt a belief, we can learn a new one! So, if you feel that you are not good enough, brave enough, interesting enough or the right age or gender to be successful at something, that is not fact. It may be a feeling attached to a belief that you can change.
Emotion is stronger than logic
Think of the story of David and Goliath - it is about how a small man without armour or sophisticated weaponry brought down the big man who was tooled up and fully armoured, with a targeted blow with his catapult! I think of that when there is a battle between emotion and logic - logic is David, emotion is Goliath. Our emotional responses seem so much bigger and stronger, but if you know how to target them then you can get them under control and allow logic to take the lead again. When you are thinking about how to deal with a situation, present yourself at that all important interview or have the conversation you have been avoiding and your emotions or feelings are getting in the way, find a way to overcome them and move forward with facts and logic in your armoury!
STAY – Stop Thinking About Yourself!
This has been so helpful for me. We get so wrapped up in what other people might be thinking about us, what they might want from us, what we are doing, how we look etc, but if you think about this from the perspective of facts and logic, they are probably doing exactly the same thing. They are NOT looking at you or thinking about you; they are most likely thinking about themselves.
When you pull yourself out of your introspection and focus on the person in front of you, be sure to make it all about them, ask them questions, be curious and give compliments - it makes the biggest difference. It stops being about you and starts being about them and that is incredibly powerful when you are trying to make a good impression, find out what happened, learn something or make friends. It also takes the pressure off you and that gives you the chance to be brave.
Perspective - we all have our own
When thinking factually, logically and putting others first, you can also remind yourself that we are all different and have our own perspectives about what is right, wrong, good and bad. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t agree with your point of view, your beliefs or how you view the world. We are all entitled to our own perspective; the important thing is that we don’t impose our view. Simply agree with their right to their perspective and assert that you have the right to yours. Agree to disagree and move on. Don’t let this erode your confidence as it’s not about you and it’s not personal.
Rear view (four-year-old self) versus windscreen (future-self) thinking
Visualise your four-year-old self, weren’t you cute? You would have been optimistic and excited about the future and also vulnerable and in need of kindness and protection. Would you look at that child and tell them they were ugly or stupid or not good enough? I hope the answer is no. So why would you say that to yourself now? Stop it! Be your own guardian.
Now look forward to your older self, when you are an old person and looking back at yourself as you are now, what do you think you will see? Youth, vigour, good looks, intelligence, creativity, passion? Whatever it may be, see that in yourself NOW. Now is when it matters most.
If you want proof that this helps, look at pictures of you from a year, two years, five years ago. Often, we say ‘oh wow, look how young I was!’. I look at photos of from 10 years ago and think ‘wow, I looked so young and I have achieved so much since’. I know that what I see in the mirror now will one day be a photograph or memory that prompts the same response. That helps me to have a more positive view of myself which in turn helps with my confidence.
Be your own bestie
What does a best friend do for you? They know your history and they don’t judge you. They give perspective on situations. They tell you the truth and tell you off when your behaviour is not serving you. They big you up and tell you what you are good at and what is great about you. If you were your own best friend, what would you say to yourself? Be that person. The most self-confidence people I know do not rely on others for their strength and self-esteem, they provide it for themselves, hence self-confidence.
Practice makes perfect
Think of confidence as a wall made up from separate bricks. Each brick represents a time when you did something and it went well. When you are starting something new, or are still young and inexperienced, you will have a low and small wall. That means that if something happens to knock your confidence, it could completely destroy your wall. The more you can get yourself out there and do the things that challenge you and push you, the more bricks you will accumulate. Over time you will build a wall that is tall and deep and strong, and when something happens to knock your confidence wall it will only make a very small chink in your wall and not destroy the whole thing. The trick to building confidence is not to let the initial knocks stop you from collecting those bricks. Practice, practice, practice!
If you are interested in learning how to overcome some of the challenges to your own self-confidence or have questions please do get in touch. Just drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary consultation.