How to become more Confident
How to Become More Confident
What saddens me most when some female clients begin their Life Coaching sessions, is when they admit that what is holding them back in every walk of life is a lack of confidence and/or Imposter Syndrome. This refers to the fear of being ‘found out’ for not really knowing what we’re doing, despite displaying confidence in a role. If you feel you may be struggling with Imposter Syndrome you are likely to question your ability, feel anxious, not be able to believe your success, and generally struggle with self-doubt. People used to think it was women who struggled most with this, but research shows that Imposter Syndrome affects half of high achievers, with a gender split of 51% of women and 49% of men. On International Women’s Day we can celebrate the strong female role models, think Kamala Harris and Jacinda Adhern for a start.
Of course, nature and nurture can play their part in boosting or destroying one’s inner confidence. Much of our personality and character traits are formed by about the age of 7 and any comment made around that age can stay with us for years. For example, if you were told in school that you weren’t very good at Maths/English or any subject for that matter, chances are you would act out that perception and reinforce the belief by doing badly in those tests. One comment by a parent/guardian/teacher/sibling can stay with us for years and lead to a lack of confidence and can feed our negative voice, or inner critic and make us doubt ourselves.
Having an inner critic isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are an impulsive individual who may make rash decisions and take too many risks. Our ancestors relied on their ‘Inner Judge’ to identify whether they were strong enough to ‘fight’ the woolly mammoth or whether they needed to take ‘flight’ and get to safety. Unfortunately, nowadays with a more complex life the inner critic has so much more to comment on and so many more comparisons to make with other people’s lives, jobs, even holidays, as many recent studies have shown regarding the negative reactions some friends have to other’s happy postings on Facebook and the associated FOMO (Fear of Missing Out!) So, it’s still important to listen to your inner voice and be aware of the flight, fight, freeze stress response, without allowing anxiety to rule your mind and consequently your life.
So, how can you become more confident?
We have 100% responsibility for our own behaviour, reactions and choices. So, if we breathe more slowly, take our time, and give ourselves positive messages, we can improve the way we deliver presentations, manage teams, negotiate and deal with key decisions, difficult people, and situations, at the same time improving our stress levels and becoming more confident. Here are 12 techniques to boost confidence:
1. To start, write down how confident you feel out of 10, with 10 out of 10 being very confident and 2 being not at all. Next write down some SMART Goals to get you to 10/10. What do you need to do, how and by when? Who can support you? Where can you find them?
2. Deal with your Negative Voice: You may need to work on the techniques every day and develop a Positive Mental Attitude; the more you look for the positives in what you have achieved, the more you will boost your inner confidence. If you have a negative thought, always ask if it is fact or just your lack of self-belief that is telling you that you’re not good enough for that promotion, for example.
3. Replace inner negative messages with positive statements such as: ‘I wasn’t good at doing presentations but after the course I’ve become very good at them.’ Build up a list of positive statements and experiences to repeat often: ‘I have a right to be here and present to these people because I have excellent knowledge to share.’
4. List your Achievements and refer to them regularly; psychologists call this ‘journaling’ and it is a very successful technique to overcome self-doubt.
5. Accept you’re not perfect and may have bad days; remember the words of Henry Ford: ‘Failure is merely an opportunity to more intelligently begin again.’
6. Ask yourself Open Questions, such as ‘What’s working well?’ and ‘What am I good at?’ instead of Closed Questions, such as ‘Can I do this?’ and ‘Am I good enough?’ Asking Open Questions means you can then be more objective and logical and not engage in a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ internal debate, which can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts, confusion and inertia.
7. Have your own personal vision with SMART Stretch goals and review them regularly to keep on track. Push yourself in order to reach your full potential. Put yourself out of your comfort zone in order to develop skills and work on your key development areas, but prepare very well in advance and use creative visualization to achieve success.
8. Accept that you cannot control everything and focus on what you can influence: your attitude, your breathing, your actions, your behaviour.
9. Celebrate success: unfortunately, it is rare for people to give positive feedback on performance so regularly take time out to reflect, plan, prioritize and give yourself a pat on the back. Create a folder for positive feedback and refer to it whenever self-doubt creeps in.
10. Don’t compare yourself to your peers, chances are they have a whole set of other issues they are experiencing. Make a list of all your qualities, interests and activities you enjoy which make you unique; refer back to the list in difficult times. Ask yourself often: ‘What is really important and what really matters?’ Chances are it’s not what your jealous neighbour, colleague or sibling thinks!
11. And always remember that you wouldn’t criticise a friend as much as you criticise yourself! So, be kind to yourself and practice self-care.
12. Banish from your Vocabulary: CAN’T, DON’T, WON’T, SHOULDN’T, COULDN’T, WOULDN’T and remember the words of Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right’
If all else fails and you want that promotion or new top job, then enlist the support of a qualified and experienced Executive Career Coach and Mentor who will listen to your fears and concerns and identify ways to address them effectively in order for you to become even more successful.
‘Thank you so much for all your support. After being made redundant I felt worthless. But, your blend of empathy and challenge helped me realise that I could move on and apply for the big roles. Without your assistance and motivating Coaching sessions I would not have found the confidence to apply to be a member of the Leadership Team in a sector I love!’ Director
Be Confident! Stay safe, stay positive!