What is this confidence you speak of?
Confidence is not something you can touch or see, yet many of us so desperately want more of it. It has the promise of helping you achieve our dreams. When you have it, you'll apply for the job, you'll leave the relationship, you'll take the risk. But it feels so far out of reach. There may be days when there are glimmers of this elusive confidence, but it vanishes again without warning.
Confidence is not mystical, mythical or magic. We can all have it. We can build it, practice it and exude it.
But it is not something someone else can give you. It comes from within you.
Confidence is something I work with almost all of my clients on. Whether it’s the confidence to speak up in meetings, to go for a promotion or simply to build inner confidence and self-belief, it seems we’re all chasing an increase in confidence.
There is no one practice (and yes, it is a practice) that has the solution. There are some small techniques, which when used regularly, can be successful for providing a boost of confidence. Even more successful though is a broader practice of gaining understanding of yourself and accepting yourself for who you are. When you have self-acceptance, you find an inner confidence and peace that all is ok.
Confidence has always been something I felt I lacked. I was shy and introverted at school and didn’t want to stand out so I hid in the back. I thought for that reason, I couldn’t be a confident person. I see this a lot with people who tend to value quiet and calm. They believe that to be confident you have to be loud and showy and shouty. Some of the most quiet, calm and reserved people I know are confident. Confident in their abilities, confident in the communication, confident in who they are and who they are not. They don’t need to shout about anything to exude confidence. They simply know themselves.
Developing awareness and self-acceptance is a big part of finding the confidence and self belief that you need to step forward, speak up or simply do the things we want to do.
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘confidence’?
1. Get to know your assumptions and associations about 'confidence'
I speak to many people who are worried about being TOO confident. On the surface they think that if they become confident, they’ll somehow turn into an aggressive, arrogant person. I challenge by asking ‘how true is this?’. What negative connotations do you associate with ‘confidence’? Are there people in mind who you believe demonstrate confidence in ways that do not sit well with you? Capture all of this on paper. Stand back and look objectively at what you’ve noted. Question, how true is this?
2. What is in your existing confidence toolkit?
In those moment when you lack confidence and are about to do something out of your comfort zone, refer to your confidence toolkit for a bit of a boost.
Knowing what makes you feel confident means you apply those existing tools to other or new situations.
Think of a time you felt as though you could take on the world. Could be a work or personal example. What enabled you to feel confident? What were you doing? How did you feel? Who were you with?
Whether it’s a favourite outfit to help you feel good, some energetic music to get you going or rehearsing a pitch with a trusted friend, know what tools you already use to build your confidence.
You can apply these to other situations where you could use a confidence boost.
3. Find (and keep handy) the evidence
When you're about to attend an interview, pitch to a new client or even meet someone new for the first time - these are the times when our confidence can do a runner.
When we need an injection of confidence there are things you can do to give you the boost you need. Among them, use previous positive feedback and kind words as a way to boost your confidence.
That is the evidence that will help turn down the volume on your inner critic.
If you save it up in a file - you'll have it to hand when you need it most. It's a great way to remind yourself of how others see you. You may keep a log of positive emails from clients or team members, or messages of thanks and gratitude in a digital or paper format.
If you want to delve deeper into confidence and find your inner peace with it, get in touch.
Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, working with individuals and groups to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma works face to face with clients in the Cambridge area as well as via Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.