The ten-letter word that can mean the difference between a promotion or a pass over. Whether you have confidence or not can make you look ready or reluctant. Tenacious or tenuous.
Confidence is the prime ingredient in a number of potentially life-changing decisions.
Without it you might not take chances on big opportunities that come your way. You may give up before giving it your all, or even convey a sense of timidity that elicits doubt in others about your capabilities.
We aren’t born with confidence, but experiences in our lives can either reinforce its development or quash it. Sometimes people who have experienced adverse events become empowered by them and this resilience creates a level of confidence that permeates into other areas of life.
Confidence is not hit or miss. We can make a decision to intentionally grow and cultivate it within ourselves. It’s just a matter of intention, self-compassion and practice.
How confident are you?
Self-esteem and confidence are close companions. Often a low self-esteem can contribute to a decrease in the behavioral aspect of confidence. Low self-esteem tells us we aren’t good enough and low self-confidence reminds us to not bother trying.
Establishing an Intention of Confidence
Explore the purpose of your intention to gain confidence. Ask yourself a few questions to establish intent:
- Why is confidence important to me? Establishing your ‘why’ is crucial in setting your sights on the goal.
- How has a lack of confidence held me back? Have you missed opportunities for career development or promotions? Have you hesitated or held yourself back in relationships? Have you failed to treat yourself well because or tolerated unfair treatment because of a lack of confidence?
- What will it look like once I have achieved greater confidence? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Will you be able to say “no” when you need to? Maybe you’ll have set limits with others or are more able to speak up for yourself? Will you have gotten the job you want or made other advancements in your life?
Confidence is not always an easy task, particularly when you’ve struggled with low self-esteem throughout your life. As you explore building confidence, start with self-compassion. Many challenges with low confidence stem from carrying unrealistic expectations of self.
People who struggle with low self esteem may have created a habit of negative self-talk that as become the norm in one’s own internal dialogue. Be patient with yourself as you observe your confidence ebb and flow.
It is normal for confidence to fluctuate.
Only the most annoyingly pompous people have everlasting confidence; it is not natural, nor is it genuine, usually. The lack of insight that comes with infallible confidence is astounding, and often comes as a result of other significant character deficits.
Most of us have a fairly reasonable sense of ourselves. We have insight into our abilities, relationships and deficits. If you are experiencing a lack of confidence that feels overwhelming, take stock of your strengths and gifts.
What do you like about yourself? Return to the original reasons why you chose to build confidence in the first place. What is the end goal? How will you treat yourself well while you establish confidence in the areas that count? Healthy coping strategies such as exercise, healthy eating and spending time with loved ones can re-establish a sense of empowerment.
The most difficult part of growing confidence is putting it into action. Building confidence requires doing things differently. That can feel daunting, especially when it comes to changing behaviors that involve other people in your life. What can you do to practice more confidence in your daily life?
For practicing confidence that involves others, try to focus on the outcome of your work rather than what others may think of you.
It may be an old habit to worry about the opinions of others, but they are not the reason for your goal. If your confidence work is with self-advocacy and that has been a long-term challenge, begin by imagining you are advocating for a friend. What would you say or do to speak up for your friend? Now be a friend to yourself.
You deserve the same respect and recognition. Speak up for yourself, even if your voice shakes. The first few times are the most challenging. After you experience success with self-advocacy, confidence will grow in other areas.
Perhaps there are areas of negativity you are holding onto about yourself and your abilities. Challenge those automatic thoughts and replace them with more confident affirmations. Noticing the thoughts that keep you stuck is the first way to overthrow them.
Ask yourself some challenging questions:
- Do I feel as if I deserve to stay stuck in my low confidence levels?
- Does increased confidence make me feel like I’m betraying others or the way I was raised?
- If I stay at my current level of confidence and do not allow it to grow, how will it affect my future emotional health?
Increasing your confidence will become easier with practice.
Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, the practice is imperative in developing a habit. Celebrating your successes and being honest with yourself about your strengths will go a long way toward boosting your confidence.
If your confidence wavers, it just means you’re sane.
A healthy ego is one that can take a bit of humbling experience and learn from it. Offer yourself some compassion, laugh at the foibles of the human condition, and move on from it. None of us get it right all the time. we would not expect that from anyone else, nor should you expect it from yourself.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life