Self-confidence plays a vital role in almost every aspect of our lives, personally and professionally. Genuinely self-confident folk are among the happiest and most fulfilled. Our confidence determines how we present ourselves, how others see us, what risks we take and how we cope with challenges, set-backs and novelty.
The reality is that many of us get stuck in unconscious cycles that reinforce negative self-beliefs that undermine our confidence. The voice on our shoulder warns of trouble, reprimands and nags. We agonise over speaking up or not and wishes remain wishes. The good news is that self-confidence can be developed, nurtured and grown.
We actually learned to lose our confidence. Children are naturally self-loving, confident beings, but this sadly changes. We’ve all been misunderstood, reprimanded, unfriended or embarrassed. And we’ve also felt accomplished, praised, validated or acknowledged. It’s the balance of the two (plus our genes), that will greatly influence our level of self-confidence.
“If you doubt your power, you give power to your doubts”
Diane von Furstenberg
Everyone is confident in some areas. This comes from practice - we had to learn to ride a bike, tie our shoes, read, enjoy sex or drive a car.
Everyone lacks confidence in some areas. Rodeo riding or singing doesn’t much matter. But if it prevents us pursuing important goals, then it will be limiting.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage”
Words and pictures really do matter; we hear our thoughts and what we say. When we berate ourselves; being late, forgetting, not speaking up, speaking up… our brain take it in deep, its verbal self-harm. Conversely when we appreciate ourselves, acknowledge our deeds and feats, our brain lights up as if a friend is praising us. We can have more positive, rewarding things to say to ourselves.
We like people who like themselves. They don’t need us to like them, they stand in their own shoes. People who like themselves are generally kind and warm to others.
When we’re ready to get curious and learn more about ourselves, be prepared to do the work. And see that it’s the many small and often subtle shifts, that will have a significant impact on life.
When we step outside our comfort zone, fear will show up.
The past shapes the present and the future grows from it. Our sense of self, and our confidence in who we are is greatly determined by our childhood experiences. We need to accept this and tell ourselves we will get anxious, and we won’t die from it, and it’s OK.
The actions of confidence come first, the feelings come later.
Don’t wait to feel brave, you need to act brave, do the right thing. Be guided by values, particularly when it’s tough. Speaking to ourselves positively is a good daily practice.
Visualising a goal is a powerful tool for drawing us towards it.
When we do something new, or imagine, our brains rapidly create new neural pathways. When we keep practicing, our beautiful, flexible brains can already imagine the goal.
Changing behaviour takes practice. Be prepared to practice.
The key to change is to do things differently. We get increasingly skilled by practicing be it the playing the piano, cooking, or on-line gambling. Do the work. Practice useful skills.
What we resist, persists.
Confidence is not the absence of fear; it’s a transformed relationship with fear. It means not letter fear stop us from fulfilling our dreams and being vigilant and holding onto ourselves when its tough.
People who are confident are not afraid to let others see them as they are. They are accepting of their strengths and weaknesses, their human condition. They are present to the moment, rather than devoting attention and resources to winning the approval of others and avoiding their fears. This is what real confidence is.