During lockdown and the time that followed, I noticed the low confidence of the people around me. It reminded me of when my parents decided to move to a new town where I didn’t know a soul.
Naturally, I had to make new friends (again). Taking myself off to the pub was the easy part. Sitting at the bar on my own was horrendous. However, I smiled and chatted with people as they ordered their drinks, and then, out of the blue, I was invited to join a large group of people. I was overjoyed, and friendships developed. This incident taught me that no matter what, you should get out there, hold your head up, breathe, smile and just do it.
Think of the question: if not now, when?
When starting new jobs, I even forced myself to knock on the CEO or MD’s door to say hi. Of course, my heart would be beating out of my chest, but I did it anyway. And I was always greeted kindly and even received the best coffee…
I am sure that, just like me, you have many confidence stories. Often, a lack of confidence is manifested as a different issue. Low confidence loves to masquerade as entirely other things. You can mitigate the problem if you learn what the signs are when they come and bite you on the bum and find ways to build on what you have, perhaps with the support of others. The lack of it can show up in many ways, including these things:
Lack of healthy boundaries
Many people who aren’t confident often try to make up for it by being people pleasers. They find establishing strong boundaries difficult and letting others walk over them. So, instead of saying yes to what they want, they say yes to what others want.
The word implies something good, but the truth is that being a “perfectionist” is not a comfortable place to be. Some people who appear highly competent may actually struggle with confidence due to perfectionism. They set unrealistically high standards for themselves and fear making mistakes or falling short of these standards. This fear of imperfection can lead to anxiety and a lack of confidence in their abilities.
Many people who lack confidence avoid social gatherings and even turn down a coffee with friends if it is in a new place. You may have trouble speaking up in groups, so avoid them or shut down in a social setting. The good news is you can work on this with practice. See the Circle of Confidence video.
Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where individuals, despite evidence of their competence and achievements, believe they are frauds and fear being exposed as such. People experiencing imposter syndrome often attribute their success to luck or external factors rather than their skills and efforts. This self-doubt can mask their underlying confidence.
Negative self-talk involves a constant internal dialogue of self-criticism and self-doubt. Individuals who engage in negative self-talk may not express their lack of confidence outwardly but are often plagued by self-sabotaging thoughts that undermine their self-assurance. I know so many people who do this. I have mostly learned how to catch this stuff before I utter it.
Past Trauma or Rejection
Past traumatic experiences or repeated instances of rejection can significantly impact one’s confidence. People who have faced rejection, bullying, or criticism in the past may carry emotional scars that affect their self-belief. These past experiences can act as barriers to developing and expressing confidence. I’ve been there and have the T-shirt like many people.
What Does Confidence Mean To You?
If I asked you what confidence was, where might you feel it, what would you hear, see or feel? Are there levels to your confidence? Do you have different kinds of confidence in certain situations? How would you describe this almost intangible feeling?
The dictionary definition provides a broad term that tells us that it is having faith or belief in yourself. So that a confident person is demonstrating their faith in their knowledge, skills, ideas, values and in who they are.
I think it means different things to different people in different situations. I believe it is highly personal, and how you view it can greatly impact how you lead your life and business.
The flip side of confidence is that horrible, sick feeling called fear. That nasty little chattering monkey appears when we least expect it to whisper sweet crap in our ears. However you feel about fear, the facts are that it keeps us safe (in survival mode). But it also provides an opportunity to confront it, learn more about ourselves and grow.
Things That Can Help You To Become More Confident
Setting healthy personal boundaries is an absolute must on your journey to making yourself a priority in your own life. It’s a foundational part of the process, and without them, you’ll soon be back to saying yes to everyone’s needs and wants except your own. Building healthy boundaries is one of the best ways to put yourself and your needs first. They protect you from being taken advantage of or being a doormat. They define who you are in your relationships and help you be more fully aware of who you are and what you want and deserve.
Personal boundaries also teach others how to treat you – with respect and care. They encompass your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, choices, intuition, needs and wants. Your boundaries should stay firm and clear, though you can choose in what situations to allow them to be flexible. They aid you in discovering your true self and making sure you live life on your terms. They develop your self-awareness, confidence and self-respect.
The first thing you need to do is decide how you want to be treated by others. After all, if you don’t know yourself, how can you determine how you want others to treat you and what you will and will not accept in your life? When we focus only on other people’s needs and wants, we stop spending time on ourselves to discover what we want and need.
Start to clarify what you value in your life and what you want more of. Once you know what you desire and value, you’ll be able to use those to decide how you spend your time and energy. Anything that doesn’t align with them will get an automatic, no thanks.
- How can you set better boundaries in your life?
- Where can you set boundaries in your life?
Let Go Of Perfectionism
This is a biggie. If you’re engaged in perfectionism, know it’s a lie you tell yourself so that you unconsciously don’t let yourself experience success or finish any of your ideas. It can be associated with a fear of success more than a fear of failure. This is something deep in your unconscious that you need to work through.
Confidence is believing and knowing you are your best resource and asset. Confidence is acknowledging that you are scared but trusting, believing and being certain that who you are is perfect at any moment. Look around you. Who do you see, think, sense or know is confident? How do you know? Are they quietly confident, incredibly charismatic, or somewhere in between? You can learn a lot from watching and noticing other people.
The key, for me, is to do it and learn from the experience. The longer you wait, the more those fears marinate and the more your inner bully can cajole you.
Perfection is not necessary. Striving for perfection will hold you back. Instead, think about what you can start (and finish today) that will help to build your confidence. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing; do a chunk and celebrate.
- If you were to let go of being perfect, what is the one thing you can do right now that will bring some inner peace to your life?
- Think back to the last project you completed, go through everything you accomplished, and describe what you learned and your feelings before, during, and after
Surround Yourself With People Who Respect You
As a human being, you need to connect with other people. Nothing can make you feel better about yourself than surrounding yourself with like-minded people who love you as you really are. This is not to say you need a bunch of “yes” people around you. But you still want people around you who are kind and honest.
Belonging is such an essential human need. Not to just belong but to be accepted for who you are. Your identity is tied into this feeling of belonging and covers what you have in common or differentiates you from others. What is important is being grateful for everything you are, honouring and appreciating everything about you.
Find groups that you want to belong to. Being part of a group really promotes this sense of well-being and happiness. Research shows that when you are in a group where you are accepted and loved, that helps you grow. And we do feel a lot happier. Plus, there are loads of benefits, like shared values, interests, and beliefs.
How do you connect with the people that are in the group? And what do you learn about yourself? You might find it really, really hard to go to networking meetings because you find it difficult to connect to strangers. What does that teach you about yourself? What can you do about it? You may need to declutter the groups that you are in.
- Describe how others help you to feel respected. Who are these people, and what can you do so that you spend more time with them?
- What groups do you feel that you belong in and why?
The Circle Of Confidence Exercise
Start this exercise by thinking of something coming up where you need a confidence boost. Then, head to your journal and write about the event and how you currently feel. Then, write how you will feel, what you will see and what you will know when it all goes well.
- Draw a circle on a sheet of A4 paper and write down a list of all the words and qualities you will need for this forthcoming event
- Stand on the paper and feel all of the qualities needed wash over you
- Draw an imaginary circle on the floor – this is your practice for the event
- Throw all the words you need into the circle
- Step into the circle
- Let the words wash over you
- Next time you need a confidence boost, throw your circle down and step into it
We have only scratched the surface with these three things, but hopefully, they have got you thinking about what confidence means to you. The next step is to explore how you can overcome these things and take the next step forward in building your confidence.
Finally, Choose You
Choosing you means that you don’t have to do what others expect of you. You don’t have to, people, please. It is not selfish to choose you. It’s important that you put your oxygen mask on first. What would it be like to say yes to you more often?
Are you ready to adventure with yourself? Join me in Learning To Fly, where you will explore different aspects of yourself each month. You’ll get to know yourself better and know what you want.