Self confidence – how to build it

confidence tips

Confidence is something that pretty much everyone struggles with. Some people are very good at hiding it and coming across as confident, accomplished people.  I can guarantee you that when you get them to a safe space where they can talk freely, you’ll hear all sorts of self doubt and worries.  But they’ve learnt that to achieve what they want, they’ve had to work hard to overcome these and dive in regardless.

When I discuss confidence with coaching clients, some will say they don’t want to be too confident as that means they’d be arrogant.  I think this thought holds people back too. It’s as if suddenly, they’d go from quiet, self doubting and humble person to super arrogant, shouty one. It’s really important to challenge this belief as the likelihood of this happening overnight is pretty low.  They are still in control and still able to decide how they come across.  Having self belief makes it all a lot easier.

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How do you increase your self confidence?

Start with where you are. How do you feel when it comes to confidence levels? Not easy to answer for everyone.  Maybe ask yourself if there are situations or scenarios where your lack of confidence makes you withdraw, avoid, get stressed or anxious. Write them down.  Remember that it’s natural to have good and bad days when it comes to confidence and the more tired, stressed or perhaps unwell we are, the more the self doubt can kick in. Ask yourself if these time as frequent.  (Don’t forget that good quality sleep, exercise, caring for yourself and doin the things that bring you joy enable you to have a great foundation to build on for cultivating confidence). You should be getting a good picture of your confidence levels and how they affect your life and work.

Now think about how you’d like to be in an ideal world – start with the end in mind. It might be that you can do anything you want (within reason), without those nagging doubts that you’re not good enough, that it will all go wrong, that critical voice or saboteur disappearing and leaving you in peace.  You might imagine a feeling of peace, calm, clarity and a clear sense of direction – a feeling of a weight being lifted.  Decision making might be easy, communication a breeze.

Take a little time to really get clear on how you’d like things to be when you have the confidence you want.  Remind yourself that this is possible and the only person stopping you for getting this is you.

How can I make it happen?

Many of us have a tendency to notice what’s not working, what’s difficult, all the negative things we can’t do.  We’ve been programmed from a young age (some believe from prehistoric times) to notice risk and to remember bad things so we don’t do them again.  With this script running, it’s hard to feel positive and confident as you only see negatives.  To be more confident, a little reprogramming is required. You’ll need to start noticing good things, positives, the things that are going well more. 

Martin Seligman in his books Authentic Happiness and Flourish, looks at this idea and calls it Hunting the Good Stuff.  He suggests making a commitment to writing down three good things every day.  These can be as simple as a good cup of coffee moving up to completing a great project or being successful at something.  By doing this everyday, it eventually becomes a habit and this ingrained pattern of thinking really can bring a focus to what you can do as opposed to constantly thinking about what you can’t.

Will you start this? When will you do it?

That’s Hunting the Good Stuff in the present.  Then you can look back and hunt the good stuff.

Get a piece of paper and start thinking about things that have gone well, all the good stuff over your life.  You don’t have to be modest as no-one else is going to see this.  Go on really sing your own praises as if your biggest fan were doing so. You might have made someone’s day, made someone smile or laugh, created something good, set your mind to something and achieved it, you can start small and build up.  Really spend some time on this.

Keep this paper and refer back frequently.

When your mind is searching constantly for good stuff and using past evidence of good stuff, you’re so much more likely to feel positive and confident because you’re not giving yourself any reasons to doubt yourself.

Notice your strengths

From this you’ll notice your strengths.  Keep on going! Write down all the things you’re good at.  No matter how small.  You might be a great listener, writer, good a creating things with your hands, good at jokes, making people laugh, making people feel at ease, understanding computers. Maybe you know all about plants or books ,be good at leading or be a great team member. You might be a good cook (or washer upper like me).  Enjoy this bit, thinking of everything you can do.  This is where you’re at your best and feeling confident.  

Whenever you feel you’re wobbling, do more of these things. Take yourself, in your imagination to a time when you were doing it, loving it.  Our brains are clever enough to be able to recreate those feelings and the lack of confidence will slowly ebb away.

Put these things on your phone, in a lovely notebook, where ever suits you, wherever you know you’ll know you’ll remember to go when you feel the creeping self doubt coming back. These are handy tools you can come back to again and again.

Another handy tool? The Crap Channel – as named by Dr Chris Johnstone.  We all have noise in our heads, some good things, some bad.  Sometimes the bad things get loud.  He called this the crap channel.  Use SNAC (stop notice acknowledge, change) to stop yourself, notice what the script is saying, acknowledge it with curiosity and then ask yourself if changing channels would be good.  If so, which channel would you like to listen to? Some have come up with the reasonable channel, the positive channel, the fun channel.  Whatever you choose, this is the channel which puts you in a good place, which says supportive stuff which brings back the confidence.

Which channel will you listen to?

What about weaknesses?

And what about weaknesses you might say – it’s not realistic to only focus on the good things as that just not how life is.  It’s good to acknowledge weaknesses, things we can do, things we might need to work on.  Yes, I agree.  And I suggest looking at these things as things we can’t do YET.  Have a look at Carol Dweck on You Tube and her work around the power of yet and growth mindset – seeing set backs as opportunities, as challenges that can be overcome. That again brings a sprinkling of positivity.

And what if you feel confident in your every day – the things you know how to do, the people you already know.  But this confidence disappears when you need to do something you haven’t done before, when you step into the unknown?

Step out of your comfort zone

The journey out of our comfort zones is often a tough one and we know that to grow, learn, develop we need to go there.  Here I find reframing useful.  What if we saw new things as exciting, energising, an adventure and approached them with curiosity and playfulness? As a client once said, the comfort zone is living in black and white and she really wanted to live in technicolour, but was afraid to step out there.  It’s ok to be nervous or to feel worried. It’s also OK to lean in and experience these feelings and see stepping out of the comfort zone as something fascinating that will enrich us.  What if we all stayed the same and never stepped into the unknown?

Hang out with positive people

Finally to keep those confidence levels up, it’s important to choose those around you.  Friends and family should boost you and shine a light on all the good stuff. Being with people who highlight your failings or weaknesses is not going to help confidence levels.  Being with people who are jealous of you won’t help either.  Actively seek out like minded people who genuinely and generously want you to be happy and are there if things don’t work out as hoped. Being able to reciprocate is important as it helps us recognise that we can be helpful and needed and this too helps with self belief.

So remember the tools.

Hunt the Good stuff – every day with three things

Hunt the good stuff in the past with a list of things you’ve done well

Use SNAC to turn the Crap Channel down when necessary and choose a more positive one.

List your strengths and use the power of yet with weaknesses

Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy it!

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.

Get in touch if you have any thoughts! 07785 996917 or email.