Recently I took a hit in the confidence department. My confidence likes to go on holiday without me now and again, and this time it stayed away for longer than it should. So while it was off enjoying itself I sat there baby sitting my self-doubt for a while, before I got my psychologist bag of tricks out to get it back. Lucky for me, this doesn’t take long.
A sign of the times maybe, but I’m noticing a general confidence drop in people everywhere. So if you've lost confidence in yourself recently, you’re not alone.
Self - confidence is the belief or trust in our own abilities, qualities or judgement. Too much self-confidence and we can come off as a hot head, making quick decisions that may backfire. But having too little can prevent us from taking risks and jumping into opportunities that could be good for us.
We need self – confidence most of the time, but we especially need it during the more challenging situations we all have to face. Like after a relationship breakup or when we start dating again. We need it when we lose our job and have to apply for a new one. We need it when we have to go back to work after having children. We need it for job interviews. We need it when we want to climb the ladder in our careers. We need it for public speaking. We need it when we speak up for our rights.
All these challenges need this thing called self-confidence. Too bad if it’s nowhere to be seen.
If we lose the self-confidence we once had, it's usually because we don't think as positively about ourselves and our capabilities anymore. Something may have happened to trigger this, but usually it’s our thinking that continues to do the damage.
Self-confidence isn’t genetic, but rather learned (phew). It also doesn’t rely on other people to increase it (double phew). So this means it can be solely left up to us to get it back if it goes for a wander. It’s also helpful to understand why it nicked off in the first place. That way you can catch it by the tail if it tries it again.
So if we believe that we're not very competent, not very smart, not very attractive, or generally not good enough well we change that all by ourselves, if we put our mind to it.
Firstly, make sure you are prepared in what ever you are trying to do. Confidence comes from past successes. So if you succeed because you have actually prepared and done something well, then you are more likely to have more confidence for next time. Put the work in and reap the rewards.
Secondly, start setting and achieving some small goals. People often make the mistake of making massive unachievable goals, and then when they fail, they get discouraged. Instead, set little ones. Set a goal you know you can achieve, and then achieve it. You’ll feel good about that. Now set another small goal and achieve that. The more you achieve, the better you’ll be at it, and the better you’ll feel.
Thirdly, act positive. Action is the key to developing self-confidence, not just thinking positive. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, so if you change what you do, you change what you are.
Steering away from negative self-talk is a must. Low self-confidence is often caused by negative thoughts running through our minds on repeat. If you are criticising yourself you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are becoming what you think, and that's not good. If you are going to believe what you say, make sure it’s something positive.
Lastly, get to know yourself better. If you’re trying to increase your own confidence, your enemy is yourself. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing down the thoughts you have about yourself, and thinking about why you think like that. Then list the good things about yourself, the things you are awesome at and the things you like. Are your perceived limitations real? Mostly likely they are not.
Self-confidence, like many other skills, can be learned, practiced and mastered. It’s worth having and if lost, learning how to get it back.
And once you have it ... don’t let it go away without you again.