Do you ‘have’ confidence, or not? It is possible to be so clear cut?
In my mind, having confidence, or being confident, can depend on the context or situation, who you’re surrounded by, how much trust you have in yourself, and whether or not your mind monkeys are chucking a whole load of fear your way.
There is no doubt that when you lack confidence life can be debilitating. It can stop you from doing things, prevent you going out, keep you cocooned in your safe environment and stop you visiting new places. But if you’re willing to have some short term uncomfortableness, you can grow your confidence levels, and learn strategies to deal with those icky moments in life.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT CONFIDENCE IS?
I always find it’s helpful to look at the etymology of a word when I start thinking about a topic. From it’s Latin roots, Confidence comes from Trust – firmly trusting, bold, to have full trust or reliance.
As a starting point then, to be confident is to have trust in ones self. These are the things that come to mind when I reflect on how it feels to be confident:
- being comfortable to be my authentic self,
- not hiding who I am deep down,
- being true to myself,
- trusting my own thoughts,
- not caring what others are thinking,
- knowing my judgement will be sound,
- trusting my behaviours and actions will be right for me in the moment, and
- knowing I will be OK when things don’t go 100% right.
Being confident is having some belief and certainty in your ability to cope with challenges. It doesn’t mean you have a false belief that life will be easy – actually it’s the opposite. When you’re confident you know there will be bumps in the road and those challenges may be hard. Despite that, you have a realistic view on your capability to deal with the challenges. And a willingness to have a go, because you have trust you will be OK regardless of the outcome.
Of course confidence levels do vary depending on the context or situation. In some situations we are brimming with confidence, in others we just want to hide away and not face whatever it it. My personal experience is that the more familiar I am with something, the more I feel confident. More on this below when we look at how to build your confidence.
I know first hand the negative impact of self-doubt, insecurities and nervousness. Thankfully through my life I’ve had some great support from my friends and a few great employers before I switched to being self-employed. Plus I’ve been willing to learn about myself to create the life I want to live – which isn’t hiding away in fear anymore. As with most things, it’s contextual and situational. I know I’m confident to go wild swimming in my local dipping spot regardless of water temperature, time of year, or whether I’m alone or in a group. However, if I were invited to swim the English Channel, I imagine I’d be so nervous that I’d doubt my ability to even contemplate training for such a challenge. My lack of ability would impact my lack of self belief and my confidence.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU’RE NOT CONFIDENT?
This will differ for each of us. We each have our own personal experiences to draw on, things we’ve been exposed to or are skilled at. In fact, we’re not usually conscious of ‘being confident’ in the moment, because when you’re confident the activity or experience comes naturally. Whereas when there’s a lack of confidence thoughts around that can be all consuming and overwhelming. When we lack confidence our mind races through all the ‘what if….’ scenarios in a panicked attempt to protect us. Here’s a few ways lacking confidence can show up:
- Holding back – this keeps you stuck in a rut and you have the belief change for the better isn’t possible
- Procrastination – you delay or can’t make decisions, worry what people think and become overwhelmed
- Avoidance – you stay in your comfort zone which reduces your chances of learning and experiencing new fun stuff
- Fear – of being the one under the spotlight, of being embarrassed, of getting it wrong, or failure, of….the list goes on!
I think you’ll agree that the lines between these aspects can be blurred. However the lack of confidence manifests for you, there will be an impact on your quality of life. I hope you’ll be willing to make some changes for the better. If you’d like to stop hiding yourself away, start trying new things and feel ready to dig into challenges, please read on.
HOW CAN YOU BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE?
The first step is to take notice – become aware of where you are at right now.
What are you already confident with, and where do you lack confidence?
Bring to mind a situation for each:
- I am confident when…..
- I lack confidence when…..
Then answer these questions for each situation:
- Where are you? Is the location familiar or are you in a new situation?
- What are you doing? Is it something you’ve been doing for years, or a new experience?
- Who is with you? Is your best friend by your side, or have you been plunged into a room of strangers?
- Do you have the required knowledge, skills or experience? Or is it unfamiliar and are you feeling apprehension and vulnerability?
Gather this information and be mindful of the details for each scenario. Using the data from situations where you’re already confident can give you evidence that it isn’t ‘everything’ about life that makes you insecure or fearful. You are capable and skilled in some areas. And those feelings can carry over into the new situations to nudge up your confidence. Having the information about when and where you are confident can give you pointers for things to build on.
Familiarity, repetition and exposure are all our friends when building confidence. Desensitisation by repeated exposure to an activity or situation can help – each time you have a go it becomes a little more familiar, and that gives you even more evidence that you CAN do it.
>>> With this in mind, what one thing can you do, to take one small step, in the situation where you aren’t confident? Now do that one small step, and reflect. Then do it again. With each attempt you’ll nudge up your confidence.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on confidence, I hope its helpful for you.
>>> What’s your main takeaway?
>>> I’d love to hear from you, so if you feel like sharing a story of building confidence, overcoming fears, or a situation you’re about to face, send me an email. I respond to all messages personally because I value your time.
Life coaching conversations can help you adopt better habits and thought patterns. You have the space and time to explore what keeps you stuck, unfulfilled and not living aligned to your values. If this sounds like something you’d like to look into take a look at the Services I offer or get in touch to arrange an initial free and informal chat.
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