As a life coach specialising in confidence coaching, I am becoming more and more aware that nearly all of us, to some degree, suffer from a lack of confidence. Without fail, on every occasion that I’ve introduced myself as a confidence coach, the person or group I’m talking to immediately open up about where and when they struggle with confidence.
For some, it might be limited to a particular area like public speaking and presenting. For many, having low confidence impacts lots of areas in their life: socialising, work, relationships and future ambitions to name a few.
The reasons behind low confidence are nearly always deep-rooted, and they require time and patience to address, accept and move on from. However, there are small steps that everyone can take to start things off. They’re less of a deep dive into freezing water than a paddle in the cool shallows!
When put into practice, these tips will help you truly build confidence in yourself and your abilities. Over time, little changes can transform how you think and feel about yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be feeling much more confident in different areas of your life.
Trick your brain
Our brains are the most incredible organ, working tirelessly day and night to keep us alive, without us even noticing what’s going on behind the scenes.
One thing our brains are excellent at is taking everything they ‘hear’ very literally. And what they hear doesn’t just come from the external environment. They are constantly listening to our thoughts, feelings, worries and observations, particularly the ones we make about ourselves (because let’s be honest, how often is our internal chatter about ourselves?!)
The more we nurture negative or panicky internal chatter, the more our brains hold on to it, even if our sensible, conscious mind knows we’re over-exaggerating the information we’re telling ourselves. If any of the following statements sound like things you might say to yourself, you’re not alone.
“If I make a mistake, everyone will think I’m stupid”
“If I say the wrong thing, people will think I’m weird”
“If I can’t finish everything, people think I’m not capable”
“If I don’t do this right, people will wonder why I’m in this job”
Clearly these statements are hugely over-exaggerating. Deep down we know that they’re not true: if we do any of these things the likelihood of people even noticing is actually very slim. But, these kinds of phrases are taken very literally by our brains in order to ‘protect’ us from the ‘dangers’ of judgement, failure or rejection amongst others. The more these phrases run through our minds, the more we’ll believe them to be true. So how can we change that?
Give your brain a chance to absorb something positive! The concept of our brains taking things very literally can be used to our advantage. Help your brain ‘hear’ phrases that are positive, or at the very least, a lot less negative. Instead of panicking that “everyone will think I’m stupid” we can instead tell ourselves that “people will definitely be able to sympethise or even help” if we make a mistake. Instead of worrying that people will “think I’m weird”, we can tell ourselves that saying something different will mean that “people will think I’m interesting”. Take a look at the panicky phrases you tell yourself when you’re not feeling confident and see how you can flip them on their head. The more you tell yourself something, the more your brain will accept it as the truth. Help it get out of its rut and get it concentrating on something that is going to benefit you.
Connect with your why
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again and again)… BEFORE you start something and WHILE you’re doing it connect to your reasons for doing it in the first place. If you can really connect to why it is you’re doing something this will help you remain confident in your decision. If your actions are questioned by others or, more likely, if you’re struggling with something and are questioning the decision yourself then you’ll have your reasoning to fall back on.
The decisions you make in your life should be informed and full of purpose. Let’s say you have a long-term goal of running a marathon in under 4 hours. You might be doing this because you want to:
Challenge yourself to do something that scares you
To help increase your trust in your abilities
To help increase your confidence and how you deal with uncomfortable situations
Raise money for a charity close to your heart
To help them fund research
In memory of a family members
Get fitter and healthier
So you can join your friends at their running club
Feel less sluggish
Have more energy
Reminding yourself of all these things is the best way to deal with the inevitable 5am struggle to get out of bed for a long run, or to say no to after-work drinks so you can run the following day. Knowing that you stand to gain all of these things should be a far bigger motivator than an instantly-gratifying extra 2 hours in bed, or cold beer after work.
Connecting to your why is your back-up plan for when you’re lacking confidence in your goals or decisions, at any level.
Apply a win-win model to all of your decisions
A lot of us lack confidence when faced with decisions. There’s something about the decision-making process that can leave us feeling anxious and panicked. What if we make the wrong decision? What if our decision isn’t what other people would have done or wanted? What if the option we didn’t choose turns out to have been the better choice in the long run? WHAT IF?
Solving this panic is actually relatively simple. Instead of thinking of all the things you might miss out on if you make the ‘wrong’ decision, just make sure that both decisions you’re presented with are right!
We can’t possibly do everything available to us, and wondering about whether or not you’ve missed out on something is a quick route to feeling dissatisfied with anything you’ve chosen to do. So, instead of presenting yourself with decisions that imply there’s a correct route to go down, view each option as exactly the same:
Option 1 = opportunities to learn, grow and make a difference to your life
Option 2 = opportunities to learn, grow and make a difference to your life
This simple concept shows that there are no wrong decisions. Even if the option you choose doesn’t work out in the way you’ve expected, you have experienced opportunities to learn, grow and make a difference to your life by choosing it. Start applying this model to the decisions you have to make, no matter how big or small, and you will absolutely start noticing that you’re more confident about making them, especially as you know there are only things to gain.
Pick up these tips and really start applying them to your thoughts, decisions and the areas where you feel least confident. I can guarantee that with consistency, you will start noticing positive changes that will contribute to you feeling much more confident.