Quick tips for self confidence

confidence building

How do we become confident individuals?

In my work as a coach, be it with senior executives in all sorts of organisations, managers, company directors or sole traders, no matter how successful they are, most  lack self-confidence.

Outwardly, these people often seem self-assured, with a healthy dose of self esteem. They seem to know what they’re doing and where they’re going, but as soon as they sit down , they tell me about their doubts and anxieties. They worry about what others think and many confide in me that they are “just waiting to be found out”.  Many successful people are concerned that someone will find out that they are faking it. They fret about being exposed as someone who doesn’t know anything and should never have been given the job!

When questioned further, about how they got the job, about past successes, roles they’ve had, relationships they’ve built, they have plenty of good evidence.  Sure, there will have been mistakes and things that didn’t work out so well, but on closer examination, they realise they learnt from these situations and moved on with the knowledge.

Many then say they are where they are thanks to a fluke – it was pure luck and nothing to do with talent or skill. Now they’re just waiting for someone to realise this and ask them to leave.

Living with this self- doubt is, immensely stressful. Waiting to be found out keeps you on tenterhooks and can ruin any work successes as they move on to worrying about the next challenge and how they might be exposed. They never feel like they’re doing enough, well enough and there aren’t enough hours in the day to prove to others that they do know something and ensure they’re not caught out.

So how can coaching help turnaround this lack of self belief?

Most people don’t stop to think what’s holding them back.  They will quickly say “I’m under confident” but then carry on with what they’re doing.  This belief then becomes what they live by and the door to confidence is never opened. Working with a coach provides the opportunity to examine more closely, to question why and really, is this true? Before we then set about putting together the steps required to change the belief and become a person who feels at ease and confident.

There are lots of things you can do as an individual to find ways of building your confidence.

Here are a few ideas:

Say it out loud and work out why

Sometimes, just coming out and admitting to being under confident can be the start. By saying it out loud, and by questioning why, you start to realise that this belief is holding you back. It makes life and work a bit harder, makes us dread so much more and celebrating success or accepting praise becomes impossible.  In a short time, we can all start pin pointing why we believe we are not worthy, or lack in skills – all too often it comes from comments from teachers, parents, peer groups – and we become programmed to accept such comments without question. So often the individuals in question didn’t even mean their comments to be taken in such a way and to be carried throughout your life. So it’s worth having a look at what made you see things this way. What’s the story you’ve developed about yourself and confidence?

What’s the alternative?

Many of us believe that if you’re open about your achievements and talents, if you’re confident, then you will come across as “arrogant” and few people seek to be labelled as arrogant. Tell yourself there is a half way mark, where you can be honest about your talents without coming across as big-headed.  Think of it as personal PR – being honest and letting people know what you’re capable of is going to help you. After all, people make snap decisions and if you are humble and self depreciating, they will not question this, they will just accept it as truth i.e that you’re not very good at doing X or Y. If you are more assertive and tell stories about how something went well, then they will take that as the truth and think of you as the person who can do that. It is possible to do it with humility and to come across as confidence and at ease.

Write it down

If you’re worried about a specific event or situation and feel you might fail, or be exposed, write down why you think this. As you write down these reasons, it’s likely that you’ll realise many of them are unfounded and are just scripts that you follow without question. If there is a reason that is valid, see if you can do something about it. Can you become more informed? Do you need to improve something? Can you ask for feedback or advice? Face up to it and do something about it.  Your confidence will grow naturally as a result of doing this.

Ask for feedback

Following on from my previous point, approach someone you trust and ask them what they think and how you could do it better. Here you can explore pitfalls and seek ways of addressing them, to reduce your feelings of inadequacy.  Just accepting you can’t do something means you stay with the under confident narrative. As for a second opinion and listen to the feedback. And believe the positive comments when they’re given!

Celebrate your achievements

When things go well, you complete a project, have that difficult conversation, step out of your comfort zone, get that positive feedback, reach your goal, whatever it is, make sure you take the time to congratulate yourself, and tell someone how proud you are.  We all too often move quickly on to the next challenge, and never truly notice that we’ve done something well. By registering this achievement, you’ll be notching up evidence in your mind about how capable you really are. Keep an evidence diary, so when you’re feeling under confident, you can have a quick read and remind yourself of the evidence, that you can do good things and you are capable and deserving of confidence.

“Fake it until you make it”

Remember that others believe what you tell them. As I said previously, if you tell people you can’t do something or are not very good at it, that is what they will hear and believe. Few people take the time to think “ah, but they’re just being modest”! Play the part, go through the motions – whatever it takes, you will start realising that you can do it, and that you’re the last person to believe it, whilst those around you accepted it from the beginning!

Mind your language

Notice how people you admire talk about their successes. Do they come across as arrogant? What words do they use? Keep practising – use positive language to describe what you do – people have no reason not to believe you!  Use less “I’m trying to do this” and more “I’m going to do this”. I notice a lot of people saying repeatedly ‘does that make sense?’ – not only are you coming across as unsure, but you’re programming yourself to question your own statements / opinion. When asked a question, saying “I don’t know” can be a reflex reaction, even when you do know or can find out. Try saying ‘let me find out” or ‘let me think about that’ while you take a moment to ask yourself if you do in fact know the answer. It can transform the way others see you. And give you the confidence to take a moment before feeling you have to answer correctly immediately.

Be patient

It may take a while to change your beliefs. You must believe you can be confident, you must give yourself the permission. Keep practising and you’ll soon notice a difference. Notice how this makes you feel differently. It will be worth it!

07785 996917  info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk