As a successful business women or professional, any outsider observing you would probably presume that you have a high level of confidence. However from my experience as a confidence coach, I find that the majority of people have at least one part of their lives where they feel self-doubt.
This can be about specific situations such as; speaking up in meetings, presenting a sales pitch, dating men or large social gatherings. Alternatively it can be more generic such as their ability to perform at work in comparison to their colleagues or anxiety in any social environment.
Self-confidence is all about belief in your value in this world, in your abilities and personal qualities. It is also a magical force that allows you to move from thinking about doing something to actually acting on it, even when you don’t know if you’ll be successful.
The good news about growing your confidence is that scientific research * has shown that approximately 40% of our confidence levels are within our control. This means that you can choose to build your confidence by learning new skills and making changes in your habits and thinking style. To get you started here are some of the steps from my self-esteem and confidence coaching programme that I use successfully with my clients:
1. Develop self-awareness. By understanding the specific situations in which you feel self-doubt you’ll have clarity on where to begin focusing your changes and be able to identify any barriers or causes. To help with this you could complete a journal recording the times when you feel a lack of confidence or self-belief and the details of the incidents. Then take time to review your notes and look for any themes. Alternatively try my unique Self Confidence Quiz.
2. Overcome a fear of failure. Everyone can think of excuses to avoid doing things so if you find yourself doing this, challenge yourself with these questions “What does success in this situation look like to me”, “What am I afraid will happen if I fail”, “If I wasn’t completely successful what would I learn?” and ‘If I wasn’t completely successful what would I do next”. Then make the courageous choice to take the first step.
3.Challenge a fear of disapproval. It’s natural for us to seek approval from others as it gives us a feeling of security, but if you find this need is negatively affecting how you think and behave it’s time for a change. Be aware of how you feel about a situation, look for times when you are going against your gut feeling or feel uncomfortable with your decision. Then ask yourself “What is stopping me from following my intuition?” and “If I knew that my decisions and my feelings were as important as anyone else’s what would I do?”
4. Be assertive. This important life skill follows on from the fear of disapproval, in particular for those with a fear of confrontation. Assertiveness is about ensuring that your feelings and needs are heard and they’re seen as just as important as others. Don’t avoid confrontation but instead explain the facts and how you feel about them in a calm way. No one can argue with your feelings, as they’re yours. Why not give it a try?
5. Replace a fear of authority. Many confident people can lose their self-belief when they interact with a senior or more experienced person. The secret to coping with this is to remember that your opinion as an individual is as valid as anyone’s and to behave with the same respect, as you would expect from him or her.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. This has to be one of the biggest wastes of your time and energy, because you are only seeing the others performance at face value and people are prone to exaggerate or lie. So any comparison is unfair and you would be much better putting your efforts into being the best you can be instead
7. Avoid the word should. Try replacing it with the word could which in my opinion is a lot softer and suggests choices. Whereas should is harsher and a great weapon to beat yourself up with. For example “I should have stayed late at work last night, the others did, I probably looked lazy” versus ‘I could have stayed at work late last night, but I’d finished the important stuff and needed some me time” Which one would be more positive to your confidence levels?
8. It’s not all about you. It may surprise you to hear that 80% of the time you are interacting with an individual or group they are focused not on you but themselves. So when you’re speaking in a meeting or on a first date, the other people are far more likely to be thinking about what they are going to say next or what they’re having for tea than judging you.
9. Silence your inner critic. This is that voice in your head that we all have, which puts doubts and negatives in your mind such as “you couldn’t do that, you’re not good enough” or “why did you say that it sounded really stupid”. As a first step to silencing the voice just be aware of when you hear it and what it says. With time you can start to either challenge the voice or just notice it and let it go.
10. Practice self-compassion. This is about treating yourself with the same caring and kindness that you would show to your best friend, rather than continually judging, comparing and punishing yourself. All of us are imperfect and it is your unique imperfections that you need to first accept and then love.
I hope these suggestions help you to let go of the need for validation and acceptance from others and to be able to express yourself and put yourself out there purely for your own satisfaction and success. Good luck