Why confidence? Here's why I'm focusing on helping clients boost their self-confidence.
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Anyone who’s had a look at my website will see that I have focused on confidence coaching. That’s not to say it’s all I do, but over time there has been a realisation for me that confidence, in whatever form and relating to whatever facet of life, is more often than not the key to an honest and fulfilling existence. If that sounds a bit deep, it really isn’t.
What is confidence?
It’s interesting to search the definition of confidence. Most results will include the following: feeling sure, secure, capable, trusting, having faith, belief, feeling brave, feeling certain… It is actually difficult to accurately pinpoint the definition, as confidence is a feeling.
We all know people we would describe as confident; many people I know would say I am a confident person. Am I? I guess mostly I am, but not always. Is anyone confident all of the time? And how many times does the line blur between confidence and arrogance – two very different traits. Is being confident always a good thing? So many questions…. I certainly don’t have all the answers but am going to show why I am choosing to focus on building my clients’ confidence.
What does self-confidence look like?
Being confident is about many different, hidden things but manifests itself in obvious ways. If we are confident it tends to come through in the way we behave, the way we hold ourselves and the way we interact with others. It’s usually the positive person that everyone else sees. Fundamentally, and not surprisingly, confidence comes from within and from a feeling of self-worth, self-belief and vulnerability.
Imagine two people walking towards you in the street. One is smiling, holding their head high, a spring in their step, politely interacting with others; you get the picture. The other is shuffling along, head down, dodging anyone that comes near, avoiding eye contact, a troubled look on their face, fumbling along. It’s easy to guess which one is feeling more confident. But the stories behind the two individuals’ appearances are what is creating the people we see. There is a myriad of reasons why those two people appear at complete contrasts to each other and why we need to delve inside to fully understand why.
We can all remember some point in the past where we have been working up to something important or significant – asking someone out on a first date, a job interview, confronting a friend post fallout, dismissing an employee - where we have told ourselves or been told by someone close to us to ‘just be confident and it’ll be fine’.
Oh ok, it’s that easy then? I’ll just flick the confidence switch, right? In an ideal world, that would be great. But is it that easy? For many people in that precise moment just before taking action, there appear to be obstacles in the way that seem insurmountable. The upshot is that we tell ourselves “I just can’t do it”, “I’ll do it later”, “it’s not important now”, ‘it can wait”, “I’m just not good enough”.
How to give your self-confidence a boost
Many of the blocks to having the confidence to act in that moment are built up from past experiences that have not resulted in the desired successes or from opinions, judgement or criticism from others that have stuck with us like leeches.
The experiences, challenges, good and bad times we live through make us the person we are. Things that happen have an effect on us in some way and continuously help form our persona. It’s also true that some people are naturally more the shy, retiring type than the life and soul of the party. But however you are doesn’t mean you can’t be confident.
Even if you are someone who usually puts yourself out there, is happy to take a risk, doesn’t mind making the first move, is comfortable with self-deprecation, is often the centre of attention, doesn’t mean you are always cruising the confidence curve. Sometimes it is quite the opposite; all the characteristics of the personality that you put on show to the world could be precisely chosen to cover the lack of confidence you are feeling. Sounds like bloody a minefield? It is.... but it doesn’t have to be.
Confidence comes from inside us
Confidence is not tangible, it comes from inside us, but a fluid feeling, and to feel confident you have to really believe, understand and respect yourself and not be scared to do so. It’s quite rare that we have an open and honest conversation with ourselves about out self-worth and self-belief, but if we want to nurture confidence we need to do that and practice doing it more regularly.
Self-belief, self-worth and vulnerability
If confidence is about feeling secure, trusting yourself, having faith in yourself and feeling sure of your abilities, how do we get there? Does all of the above apply to me? More often than not, no; it’s rare we feel so positive about ourselves all of the time, but to be more confident we need to work on those fundamentals even if it doesn’t come naturally.
Our self-worth and self-belief are essential in promoting confidence. Why? Well, if you don’t believe in or value yourself, why would you expect others to? Being confident is an aura we give off and it comes from how we feel about ourselves. Slouching your way into a job interview looking nervous, stumbling through responses and with a facial expression that is screaming ‘get me out of here’ probably isn’t going to get you the job.
How to improve your self-worth and self-belief
So, how do we improve and appreciate our self-worth and self-belief? The answers are many but the essence of them is the same. Believing in yourself and feeling that you are worthy come from the following (amongst others):
acknowledging what you are good at
acknowledging what you are not so good at
taking reassurance from positive past experiences
actively stop comparing yourself to everyone else
If we start to acknowledge what we are really capable of and things we are good at, and equally, where we are not so hot, it naturally leaves us with less space for disappointment and the disheartening feeling of failure. I wouldn’t go for an interview for a job that was completely out of my comfort and qualification zone – it’s only going to lead to me feeling gutted that I didn’t get the job. We can apply that thinking to so many situations in life. Don’t go and have a chat with a friend you’ve fallen out with when you are feeling angry, upset or having a terrible period – it’s probably not going to end well! Understand how you’re feeling; stop and ask yourself “is this a good time to do this; am I in the right space to handle this?”
Equally, promote your good bits. If you know you excel in certain areas both personally and professionally, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to focus on those. Remember back to episodes in the past that have been successful, fulfilling, left you with a great buzz and apply that memory before you tackle what’s coming up for you that you don’t feel confident about.
Have a chat with yourself more often about your worth, values and beliefs – that’s what makes you the person you are and that’s what others will see. Have the confidence to be loud and proud of your good bits; why wouldn’t you? Big yourself up more – sounds naff, but do it!
It's ok to be vulnerable
Ok, so what does being vulnerable look like? I don’t want you imagining the classic Bridget Jones scene where she’s sat alone crying into her wine glass feeling crap about life. Moreover, it’s understanding that in life mistakes will happen, things will go wrong, there will be bad days when you’re feeling rubbish and bad news will sometimes land on the doorstep. It’s about digging deep and giving something a go even if the outcome is crap and recognising beforehand that that might be how it goes. And it’s also about not caring unduly how others judge you if the outcome isn’t the most positive.
Importantly, remember that we ALL fail sometimes in life and life will seem to fail us. It’s how we accept, learn and grow from those experiences that can give us the confidence to be better prepared to face similar situations again. It is rare that when things go (seemingly) horribly wrong they have a dire effect on the rest of your life, even though it could feel like that at the time. Looking back, those awful situations may have a short-term negative impact, but sometimes they turn out to be a positive learning curve. And you always can learn something from them. If a meeting goes badly, a chat with a friend turns ugly, a tragic situation tears you apart, it is often true that looking back on the moment some time later can teach you something valuable that you hadn’t realised before. It can show you something you need to work on or help you see things from the other person’s view that will give you a better standpoint to face a similar occasion with the confidence of new and improved knowledge.
Being vulnerable is being open to all the emotions, good and bad, and having the courage to live through them and learn from them. Also, an understanding that you’re not on your own; we all live through tricky times, and it’s totally ok to ask for help if it’s becoming too much to deal with.
Feel confident in your own skin. Don't compare yourself to others.
Finally, let’s touch on you versus them; comparing ourselves to others. The “I’m not good enough / as good as them” lack of confidence. Oh goodness, I really feel like this is a huge can of worms that I could talk about for hours…. perhaps that’s for another blog post! Anyway, as we all know, in today’s world it is so easy to compare ourselves to everyone else. If we allow it, the opportunity to do so is thrown in our face every day from various outlets and we can to be sucked in to thinking that everyone else’s life is hunky-dory and ours is comparably rubbish. Behind the smiles (fake or real) of whoever you are looking at or interacting with, are hidden stories that we don’t know anything about. It seems to be a very British thing to put a brave face on and block your weakness or vulnerability from being evident, but this often masks the dramatic stories that are going on behind the scenes, which, in turn, affect our confidence.
Each and every one of us is unique from every other person and it’s seems crazy therefore to think we allow ourselves to make comparisons to everyone else. We all have good and bad characteristics, flaws and fortes, but no one else will be exactly the same as you. So be brave enough not to fall into the trap of comparing, you’re onto a hiding to nothing if you do – it’ll rarely end well. Be confident enough to know who YOU are, to appreciate the good bits, acknowledge the growing curves to work on and allow yourself to feel crap sometimes when it’s needed. If you are feeling vulnerable, remind yourself of what makes you worthy, your successes, your beliefs and values and be proud enough to promote all the good stuff – be confident about that.
If you're confident in yourself, others will be confident in you too
The bottom line is, if you are confident of yourself, others will be confident of you too. It’s infectious. Really knowing your self-worth, self-belief and vulnerabilities will allow you to empower yourself to behave with confidence, honesty and sincerity and handle situations in a more level-headed, calm, productive way.