Would you love to be more confident? Experts tell us that looking at our strengths and finding ways to draw on them is key to getting that confidence…
1 Be your own best friend
We are often very kind to our friends, and also very wise. When they have a problem, their confidence is sinking or they are questioning themselves, we are usually able to offer some perspective and give them an alternative viewpoint to buoy them back up. Sadly, we rarely do this for ourselves. When it comes to our own wobbly moments, we buy into the criticism instead of using the same methods and logic on ourselves.
Your mother-in-law is critical of your decision to work and thinks you should be a full-time mother. She raises her eyebrows at your constant juggling, which leaves you wondering if she could be right.
Ask yourself, “If this was happening to a friend, what would I advise her?” You’d probably say: “Your mother-in-law is entitled to her views and, in her generation, it may have been so. You work for a reason and there are pros and cons to these choices.” That’s the wise you. Access that voice for yourself, then put her criticism behind you.
2 Stop apologising
When we’re feeling insecure, many of us apologise as a knee-jerk reaction. We point out our perceived faults before anyone else can. Stop now. It diminishes you in your eyes and everyone else’s.
Your friend appears in a fab new dress. “Wow, you look great in that dress,” you say, and then hear yourself adding, “I could never wear that, I’d never fit it over my hips.” Or “I’ve made this cake for the fête. I’m sorry, though, it looks awful…”
Swallow those words! People aren’t always evaluating you, they’re usually caught up in their own universe. Maybe baking (or whatever) isn’t your forte, but what is? Are you a good organiser? Networker? Listener? Activist? Focus only on that instead.
3 Build belief
We all have self-belief somewhere inside us – but some of us don’t access it very often. Our instant response to a challenge can be, “I couldn’t/I’m not ready/I’m not good enough.” Giving and sustaining an alternative response can require daily resolve – it’s a commitment to ourselves, like going to the gym. The more we work on it, the better we feel.
You’re offered a major project at work that’s slightly out of your area and (you feel) your depth. Pulling it off would be a fabulous boost to your career, but you can only think that failing would be very public.
Actively focus on the things you have done well, the times things have gone right, what you’re good at, the compliments people have given. It’s called harnessing the ‘power of small wins’. Focus only on what you have – not what you lack.
4 Live passionately!
Confidence comes from being in the right place. To feel positive, you must be energised and inspired. Are you playing to your strengths? Living out your passion?
Work doesn’t engage you as it used to and keeping the home and family on track leaves you with low (or nil) reserves of energy.
To recharge your batteries, think of your favourite, most cherished times. Is it when you’re around people or alone? It could be going out for a run or the time you spend learning something new for fun. Identify what gives a boost or nourishes you. Scan back through your life to the time you were most carefree. What made you excited then? What have you given up? Then think how you can build it back into your life.
5 Have a plan
No matter how talented or hard-working you may be, you won’t feel securely confident if you’re heading somewhere without a map to guide you. A solid plan – with lots of small wins along the way – is the way forward.
Your attempts to ‘get fit’ always start well but fizzle out. Whatever you do – gym sessions, evening runs – you lose momentum.
A goal of getting fit isn’t enough. Make a plan, with targets big and small. For example, aim to walk three times a week and work towards completing a 10km charity walk. When you’ve achieved this, try to shift up a gear and start training for a longer walk or even start running.
6 Embrace risk
If we avoid risk, we do nothing – something that is especially easy to do in uncertain times. If it gets to be a habit, you may not even realise you’re doing it.
You’d love to reconnect with an old friend. You fell out a long time ago, but recently you’ve been missing her and feeling regretful. You’d love to build bridges, but the fear of rejection holds you back.
Write a short note to your friend saying only that you are sorry for what has happened and you’d love to meet up again if she would. Skip to the realistic worst-case scenario – perhaps you’ll hear nothing back. You can live with that. At least you’ll know you’ve tried.
7 Learn resilience
Our confidence will take a few knocks from time to time. Large things, such as marital breakdown or being retrenched, and small things like a child not confiding in us, can cause us to question the lives we’ve built and who we are.
A project you managed has not lived up to expectations or your business has failed. You’re convinced you’re on the rocky road to disaster.
Look at the big picture. Not everything is within your control. You can deliver on your part and still find the result disappoints because other aspects weren’t in place. Resilience is essential. Worst-case scenarios do happen. Think of people who’ve lost jobs or businesses, but have used this as a springboard to succeed elsewhere. Surviving mistakes is a reason to be more confident, not less.
“Yes, like the country,” is India’s go-to phrase when meeting people for the first time. A lover of the English language, India is a sub-editor and occasional writer, who pores over words on a daily basis. In her spare time, you’ll likely find her at a concert or daydreaming about her next overseas trip (with the Pinterest boards to prove it).