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Is your lack of confidence letting you down?
You know those days, months or even years when you doubt your ability to accomplish something? Interestingly, you are not alone. Whether you are a board executive or a stay-at-home parent, no one is immune. My clients range from CEO’s and VP’s in global companies, through to jobbing doctors and nurses. They have taught me that insecurity affects everyone at times.
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Suzy Kassem
In fact, feeling a lack of confidence is so common, I decided to write a longer piece on the topic. To give you time to practice the ideas, I have split the article into two bite-sized chunks, each with life-changing impactful actions that you can start working on today.
This article covers the main factor responsible for low self-worth and self-confidence, and how to deal with it.
A second article on self-confidence will be published next month and will help you to build on what you learnt from this one and offer 7 more ways to increase your confidence and self-worth.
If you don’t want to miss Part 2, subscribe to the monthly newsletter at Karencastille.com and the link to both articles will be in the newsletter.
What is confidence and why is it important?
Although somewhat nebulous, the term ‘confidence’ suggests an inner feeling of self-belief and self-worth. When you feel confident, despite life’s challenges, you feel secure and capable rather than insecure. You readily accept and tolerate your vulnerabilities and insecurities especially in relation to feelings of failure or rejection. You are honest and frank with yourself about your feelings, emotions and capabilities.
When you are self-confident, you trust your own judgement and ability. This does not mean that you always succeed but, remarkably, it does improve your chance of success at whatever you are trying to achieve. And, if you do fail at something, when your confidence is resolute, you are more able and willing to brush aside the failure and either try again or take on a new challenge. Confident people are intuitively able to channel their confidence to handle any outcome, positive or negative, regardless of what they pursue.
Can you learn to be more confident?
The short answer is yes and that is why it merits two articles! However, it is a bit like the chicken and egg situation i.e. which of two things comes first, and which caused the other one? In this situation, you need to be confident to try something new or challenging and each time you do try something new (and survive!) it builds your confidence.
This is because when you try something new, it always feels like a risk. With risk comes stress. When we are stressed our brains trigger stress hormones which can make us feel uncomfortable or afraid of failure. However, in short bursts, the same stress hormones can also help us to think clearer and perform better.
This may not be what you want to hear but, unrestrained negative thoughts (about yourself) and negative self-talk perpetuate low self-worth and self-confidence. Therefore, the main culprit for undermining your confidence is you! The moment you acknowledge this and take personal responsibility for improving it, your confidence will begin to increase.
Re-frame your negative thoughts
Watch your language! Although it may not feel like it, what you say to yourself is entirely within your control. To protect us, our brains are hard-wired to look for negative things. So, it is easy to slip into an irrational cycle of negative thoughts and moods. When your thoughts about yourself are mostly negative, you are unconsciously undermining your own confidence. Once you are aware that you are doing this, there are several things you can practice to overcome it.
Learn to recognise – in the moment – when you criticise or belittle yourself. I sometimes do this when I am playing tennis. I can hit 4 successive great shots, mess up the next one then mutter (to myself) that I am rubbish! Instead, I should be recalling, and praising myself for, the good shots I made.
Change your belief about yourself. The power of belief is a well-known phenomenon. What you think about and say to yourself (good or bad) becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The result of berating ourselves is that we act according to our negative belief. Fake it until you make it!
Stop telling yourself and others that you lack confidence! Each time you say it you are inadvertently reinforcing it as your belief. By speaking and thinking positively about yourself, and taking action to achieve improvements, you will develop confidence. A better phrase to practice is “I am continually building my confidence”.
When you catch yourself saying negative things to yourself, in the moment, stop saying the negative things and replace the comment with a positive one which focuses on what you did well.
Noticing what you think and say to and about yourself is the first step to improving your confidence. When you become more self-aware of your inner chatter, you can begin to re-frame the conversation to a more positive one. With practice, over time, you will improve your feelings of self-worth and self-confidence in different aspects of your life.
As my tennis coach frequently reminds me; practice, practice and practice some more if you want to achieve improvement. Once you begin to master the suggestions in this article, a second article on the same topic will be published in a month’s time. It will provide you with another 7 practical ways to help you to continue on your improvement journey.
If you don’t want to miss Part 2, subscribe to the monthly newsletter (on the right-hand side of this page) and the link to both articles will be in the newsletter.