I often get asked by women, how do I become more confident?
Confidence underpins how we feel about ourselves and motivates us to step into our power, to take steps to develop ourselves, take risks and challenge ourselves. When we’re confident we trust ourselves and take the action that leads us to grow. It helps us go further, and rise in our careers. In the workplace it can be the vital component to succeed , especially in those moments of doubt. But it can be elusive for so many women, especially when it can sometimes feel like Catch 22 in order to increase confidence levels, because all those things I mentioned above, to become confident, you need to be doing those things when you don’t feel confident at all.
You see, there is no magic bullet or quick fix to becoming more confident. Confidence is something that grows, something that you work on, something that you develop. It comes from doing, learning and quite often failing in the process. Confidence isn’t about the end result, its about the journey.
Sometimes you need to practice, multiple times, maybe you need to see evidence of your positive results, push your boundaries and step out of your comfort zone. When you’re feeling under-confident though these can feel like big, impossible steps, but you need to start somewhere, or else nothing will ever change and you will remain stuck in your lack of confidence.
But one easier place you can start to work on your confidence levels is your own mind. Often it’s the stories that we tell ourselves that feed into our perceptions of self and our abilities, which then in turn feed into our actions. How many times do we listen to the voice inside that checks in, doubts, double checks or speaks a truth that we choose to listen to? How often is that voice a negative one, raining on our parade and telling us we can’t do the things we want to do?
The messages we send ourselves, when we hear them often enough, they feed into our beliefs and ultimately they mould us into who we are. And I’m not just talking inner critic work here, the “you’re not good enough”, “who do you think you are”, “you won’t be able to do that” kind of voice. It’s all kinds of voices, chirping away at you, fighting for your attention.
We all have them. To what level they become part of our psyche though, largely depends on how much airtime we give them and whether we hang around to listen to them.
Because we do have the power to ignore the voices that don’t serve us. And we also have the power to change the narrative and decide instead to believe a different version of events than the voices in our heads would have us believe.
So how do you do it? How do you change your self-talk?
Well, like many starting points for change, it lies in awareness.
Are you aware of the messages you’re sending yourself? So many times we’re not, so first of all you need to start tuning in. When do the voices get louder? What are you doing when they tend to show up? What are the things you hear again and again ringing out in your head?
Often you can identify them by looking at the end result.
Recently I was getting frustrated with myself for always feeling rushed. Always feeling like I never had enough time, constantly chasing my tail. So I stopped to take a look at what was going on for me. Why was I feeling like this?
Turns out I was telling myself that I didn’t have time. That I should hurry up and get stuff done. That I had so many other things that still needed to be done.
This meant that I started physically running to places, trying to fit in more stuff in the time that I had, trying to continuously multi-task, and, as a result, feeling even more rushed. It was like a self-feeding loop.
So I decided to see if changing my self-talk would have a different effect. What if I changed the record from ”I haven’t got time for this” to “I can do what I can do” or “Just slow down and breathe”, “It will all get done eventually”?
Notice how much kinder that language sounds, how it immediately reduces the anxiety around time and the reality of the situation. And that’s exactly the effect it’s had. Instead of trying to cram more in using organisational tools, and trying to be more efficient to get my stuff done, I’ve actually re-shifted the goal posts by giving myself a little talking to instead. Because why am I trying to squeeze so much in? What really needs to be done?
A lot of self-talk centres around questioning the truth of the matter, especially when it’s difficult to work out why you might be feeling uncomfortable or trying to work out what’s really going on. Digging deeper can often reveal your true motivations and simple questions like “does it need to be me” or “is that actually true” can really set things off in a different, more positive direction.
Other simple tools you can incorporate to keep that voice in check are things such as affirmations or mantras which can help you to keep yourself on track and moving towards a thought process that aligns with where you want to be headed or how you want to show up. Getting into a regular habit of programming your thoughts can have lots of positive effects on your well-being, mind set and ultimately your confidence, either to remind yourself or to begin to believe. Paying attention to what is going on in your subconscious mind isn’t just a bit of woo woo, it’s foundational in how you see yourself in the world and it directly affects how you show up.
So if things are feeling shaky right now, or you’re doing things that you know you don’t want to be doing. Or maybe you’re not doing what you know you want to be doing, stop and listen to that inner voice and hear what it’s telling you because it’s the voice you hear first. It’s the piece that can easily slip onto a continual loop and, even if you don’t realise it, it’s the thing that could be stopping you from showing up in the way that you want to and keeping you from your actual truth.
Try it. Tune in. And if you don’t like what you hear, change the tune.
It all starts with you.
Career Empowerment Coach
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