Do you really wish you were more self confident but aren’t sure where or how to start?
Then this episode is just for you.
Self-confidence is a skill that anyone can learn.
And I want to walk through three things that you can do to start building self-confidence, so you can show up and be more powerful in your own life and in the world.
What is Self-Confidence?
A nice simple definition of self-confidence is to be secure in yourself and your abilities.
I believe self-confidence comes from three things; trust, a sense of competence and your ability to value yourself.
You may like to go back and listen to Episode 72 for more information on developing Unwavering Self-Confidence.
Why would you want to become self-confident?
Well, there are lots of great reasons.
When you are self-confident, you can handle your emotions better.
You will feel more in control of yourself and your life.
You will become more self-reliant, which means you can make better decisions for yourself, trust your own instincts and look after yourself better.
When you’re self-confident, you will probably speak to yourself more kindly and be a happier person who achieves what they want in life.
It sounds like a great place to be, doesn’t it?
So, how do you get there?
The Shy Little Rabbit
I would like to share my own experience of developing self-confidence as it may be relevant to you.
As a small child, I was what you would call painfully shy.
What I mean by that at adult parties I would be terrified of playing with other kids or even speaking to other kids, so I would sit next to my mum all night while she spoke to the adults and I would enviously stare at all the children having fun around me.
At primary school, I didn’t raise my hand in class even though I knew the answer because I was terrified of being wrong or being judged.
As a teenager I was uncomfortable about who I was and having any attention paid to me so I sat quietly at school and had just a couple of close friends because I didn’t feel confident enough to join in with social groups and activities that my peers were involved in.
And when it came to my first serious dinner date with a new boyfriend, I was so self-conscious about having him see me eating that I struggled to eat much of anything at all.
Through my growing up years, I wasn’t secure in myself, I doubted my abilities and I found it hard to value myself or my opinion.
I struggled at job interviews in my 20’s, and I feared judgement in social circles so was never willing to put forward an opinion or take a stand for anything.
So a lot of the time I sat on the sidelines.
I was a watcher; a listener, a passenger on the bus.
But I felt that life was passing me by and that I was capable of so much more and helping so many more people – if only I had the self-confidence!
Does any of this resonate with you?
Have you felt like this before?
Fast forward to today and I am confidently and competently running my own successful business.
I am a contract coach trainer for Australia’s leading Coach Training organisation. I’m very comfortable on camera, doing Facebook lives, and in any sort of public speaking event.
In the past few years, I’ve danced in a troupe in front of 10,000 people on stage, performed in various concerts, and have presented at local and international conferences with ease and confidence.
These days, I trust myself, back myself and I recognise what I am capable of.
I’d like to share three things that I have done to help me develop self-confidence.
1 – Change your self-talk and thinking patterns
The most powerful thing you can do to build self confidence is to change the way you talk to yourself and to observe and start to change your automatic thinking patterns.
I didn’t know about the power of changing your self-talk when I was growing up, but I really wish I had started there because I would have become self confident far more quickly & easily.
The reason self-talk and thinking patterns are so powerful is that most of our thoughts are unconscious, and negative.
I believe that as a society we tend to condone the behaviour of self-deprecation, of de-valuing our efforts or diminishing ourselves in front of others.
People call it being humble. But I disagree and I really want to challenge this paradigm.
The dictionary definition of the word humble is “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance.”
But the VIA Institute on character has a more accurate definition of humility as a character strength.
They say a common misconception is that humility involves low self-esteem and worthiness or a lack of self-focus.
But true humility means that you can accurately assess your own skills, you can recognise your limitations, you can keep your accomplishments in perspective and you’re not distorting any part of your own image, representing yourself and your capabilities accurately.
True humility means that you can accurately assess your own skills, you can recognise your limitations, you can keep your accomplishments in perspective.
So back to the concept of self-talk and thinking patterns.
It’s as simple as this: if you are thinking accurate, factual and positive thoughts about yourself and your abilities, you will develop self-confidence.
If you are criticising yourself, doubting your abilities or judging yourself, you will create self-doubt.
Thoughts are just statements that, when repeated, become your beliefs.
So how do you change your self-talk and thinking patterns?
The first step is to start watching your thoughts and noticing how you talk to yourself, and what you are thinking about yourself.
The next step is to replace any negative or unhelpful thoughts into something factual and non judgemental.
For example, if you catch yourself thinking something like “I can’t do this”, then you could change that thought into a question, like “what do I need to learn so I can do this?”.
Since our thoughts are largely unconscious and automatic, it is really helpful if you work with a coach to uncover your hidden thoughts, and to learn how to self coach as we do in my membership.
2 – Set and Achieve Stretch Goals
You probably would agree that a lot of people start with action rather than thought because they’re not aware of the impact of thought work, or perhaps they think that actions are easier to start with.
We see it everywhere: people tend to start with a gym membership, or a diet, or some other sort of action rather than examining the thoughts and motivators that drive those actions.
Before I had any awareness of the power of my mind I would use stretch goals to help me do things that I lack confidence to do otherwise.
I didn’t know that by changing my thinking I could develop more self belief more quickly and I wish I had started there, because I would have managed failure a lot better and become stronger and more resilient.
In any case, I learned that if I dug deep and found courage, and took action despite my fear, then I felt good about what I was achieving.
The added bonus for me was that taking physical action gave me tangible proof that I had some sort of skill or ability or confidence to do something, and the sense of accomplishment felt more real.
So while it’s important to change your self-talk, it’s equally important to set and achieve stretch goals.
Here are a few of the bigger stretch goals that I have done through the years.
They mostly involve being in the public eye somehow, I think because I found it harder to back out of something and perhaps a little more of an accomplishment to put yourself out there.
- At high school; volunteered to do a role play with two other students in Year 11 English class (I got a standing ovation! LOL)
- On a Bali holiday, I was asked to do catwalk modeling of locally made leather clothes at a big tourist party and saw this would be good for developing posture and presence.
- At university, I did a presentation on my honours project at an International Wetlands Conference with an audience of around 300 people (scary – but a way to build credibility and hone my speaking skills)
- After my honours year, I put my name down to be a first year student tutor (a paid role) which involved me teaching cell biology and animal biology to classes of 25 – 40 students at a time. This taught me agility.
- From the age of 25 onwards, I started presenting my research and findings at environmental conferences in front of audiences of 100+ people
- When I was 27, my boyfriend at the time and I rode motorcycles from Perth to Cairns, through the desert. I had three months to get my license and learn how to ride off road.
- When I was 27, I became a company Director and Manager in our business.
- When I was 28, I danced in a troupe in front of 10,000 people at the Perth Entertainment Centre on Australia Day.
- When I was 38, I went for a Guinness World Record for the longest bellydance shimmy at a local health expo and was promoted in local and interstate media.
These are just examples and they may be bigger goals than you might like to stretch for. For me, these gave me a sense of validation and external feedback, of proof in the world that my goal was real, and a more tangible sense of accomplishment.
Right now you might be asking, what should my stretch goal be?
I will say that what’s most important is that you work where you are now.
Challenge yourself to the level that is comfortable for you and will guarantee your success.
If you set goals that are a stretch, but winnable, you will build confidence. If you aim too high and fail, it may be an emotional setback.
Maybe your stretch goal would be to strike up a conversation with someone.
Maybe it’s to ask for a raise, or to have a sales conversation.
Maybe your stretch goal is to say no to that second scoop of ice cream.
Decide on 2 – 3 goals that are meaningful for you – one action you will take each week for the next three weeks – and notice what happens.
3 – Intentionally recognise success
The third part is so important.
Our modern epidemic is constantly striving for more, for greater expectations, without recognising how much we have done already and what our capacity is.
I call this the Pattern of Pursuit, and it’s a habit that I recommend you break.
My definition of the Pattern of Pursuit is when you are constantly achieving but not recognising your efforts, such that you feel not good enough because you are too busy doing and not taking the time to be, to reflect, and to acknowledge.
Self-confident people have humility.
And if you recall the earlier discussion on the VIA Character Institute’s definition of humility, it was being able to accurately assess and represent yourself and your capabilities.
You can only do this if you reflect on and acknowledge what you have achieved.
Further, every time you recognise your achievements, such as accomplishing your stretch goals, it generates a sense of self-confidence.
What I love most about intentionally recognising your success is that you learn to trust yourself and back yourself, and to value your own opinion and skills.
When you do this, you stop worrying about whether you are good enough. You stop worrying about what other people are doing, whether you are keeping up, and whether they are judging you.
You value your own opinion, and you start to become more self reliant, where you set your own internal standards and develop your own motivation to succeed.
It’s powerful stuff.
My favourite ways to recognise success are to:
- Tick of tasks completed in a physical work diary
- Monitor exercise, movement and standing on my Apple watch
- Speak about accomplishments over dinner with my husband
- Journal about achievements and goals.
To summarise, even the most timid little rabbit can become a self-confident person.
Self-confidence is simply a skill you can learn.
The three easiest ways to build self confidence are:
- Watch and change your self-talk – through coaching, self-coaching or journalling
- To set and achieve stretch goals that are 100% winnable – start where you are now
- To use simple ways to measure and recognise your daily and weekly achievements.
Challenge yourself to the level that is comfortable for you and will guarantee your success.
If you would like to work on your self-confidence and master it, pop into the Habitology membership in February 2020 where we will be studying and self-coaching these important skills.
I’ve included the link in the notes for this episode.
In the meantime, please comment below and let me know your favourite confidence-boosting technique. I’d love to hear all about it!
Ready to build self confidence?
Self confidence is so important when setting out to reach your potential. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.
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