Which words in this quote stand out to you?
The word confidently resonates the most to me. As I read it, I imagine myself striding purposefully towards my personal and professional dreams. I am not lackadaisical or distracted, but rather I envision my head held high, arms swinging beside my body, and eyes focused ahead of me as I steadily move forward. I like this image!
To be honest, though, the poise and assurance of self-confidence can be elusive; sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t.
Research shows that when we feel confident we are likely to exhibit some of these behaviors:
- We do what we believe is right, even if others mock or criticize us for it.
- We are willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve our goals.
- We admit our mistakes, and learn from them.
- We wait for others to congratulate us on our accomplishments.
- We accept compliments graciously, “Thanks, I really worked hard on that project. I’m pleased that you recognize my efforts.”
By contrast, when we lack confidence we frequently demonstrate these behaviors:
- We choose our actions based on what other people think.
- We stay in our comfort zone, fear failure, and avoid taking risks.
- We work hard to cover up mistakes and hope that we can fix a problem before anyone notices it.
- We promote our own virtues as often as possible, to as many people as possible.
- We dismiss compliments offhandedly, “Oh that project was nothing, really, anyone could have done it.”
I’ve come to learn that self-confidence is really a balancing act.
Here are 4 steps that we can adopt to feel more confident.
Step 1: Know who you are. A healthy appreciation of what makes you unique is the foundation for self-confidence. It is important to know your strengths and values, and to be grounded in that which you have control over…namely, yourself.
Step 2: Manage your mental chatter. It is hard to know, love, and accept yourself in a world that encourages us to compare ourselves to others. Marketing companies want us to yearn for the product or service they’re selling; they intend for us to feel incomplete without it. We must guard against the onslaught of messages that imply we are not enough.
In addition, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. It is easy to take a spectator seat, watching other people’s lives via social media and to compare ourselves to them. We can be drawn into thinking they are more attractive, smarter, luckier, and happier than we are. The truth is that we only see a small slice of the lives of others, and no one really knows another person’s reality. Comparing yourself to others and judging yourself as ‘less than’ is detrimental to knowing and accepting the unique individual that you are.
A companion to comparison is negative self-talk. Our inner critic can run rampant and we need to be mindful not to let it drag us down. Like changing a radio station, dial past the static of self-critical thoughts that deflate you, and tune into positive thinking. Managing your mental chatter will free up space, and energy, for step 3.
Step 3: Decide who you want to be. As you practice the first 2 steps of accepting yourself and focusing on the positive, you will be ready to decide how you want to be and what you want to do. What is your vision and dream for your work…and for your life overall? Once you have the vision, create small action steps to move you in the direction of your dream. We are meant to be a work-in-progress, so celebrate each step that you make and use it as a launch pad for the next step on your journey. Evolve into who you are called to be.
Step 4: Know your Team. While you pursue your work and life vision, know that you are not alone. There will likely be days when lack of confidence will rear its ugly head and you may experience some of the anxious behaviors listed above. Who can you count on to support you when you this happens? Who will stand with you in the gap formed by fear and self-doubt to remind you that you are enough? Who believes in you even when you struggle to believe in yourself? Perhaps your support team will remind you to circle around and begin steps 1 through 4 all over again. By practicing these steps faithfully and intentionally, you will notice how your confidence steadily improves.
An invitation for women who want to know more about this topic:
You’re invited to join me for the Wholistic Woman ‘Be Confident’ Evening Retreat on March 30th from 5:30-7:30 pm. Evening retreats are open to women who enjoy personal and professional development in a supportive, fun, and friendly environment. Click here for the workshop description and/or to register.
I welcome your questions and comments on self-confidence by leaving a comment here or emailing me directly.
Carol deLaski (PCC) is a professional certified coach, speaker, and author who specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. Her coaching book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith is a springboard to develop inner wisdom and resilience. Visit her website or send an email with questions, comments, or to arrange for a free consultation.