I think this is the million dollar question, don’t you?
For most of my life I felt like I never had enough confidence. I had been bullied for many years growing up and that really had a huge impact on how I felt about myself. I spent a lot of my life waiting for some much needed confidence to come my way. As if I would wake up one morning and suddenly feel any different (can you see the parallels between confidence and our relationship with our bodies?). Surprise surprise, it never came and I spent years wishing for my life to be different (and then of course regretted the wasted time afterwards). You just can’t win!
The first myth about confidence that I want to set straight is that it comes naturally to people – some people have it, some people don’t. I have never met anyone who didn’t wish to have more confidence. We always assume people have more confidence than us. Now here’s the tricky part, some people who you meet along the way will give you the impression that they are confident because they will tell you how good they are and how good their life is. Now these people are most likely very insecure deep down, as they feel like they need to prove themselves and their worth to you. What I’m talking more about is authentic confidence. You know when you meet someone and they just ooze a special something. These people are like a magnet that you are drawn to. People who have authentic confidence don’t need to prove a thing. They just feel great in their own skin, they know they are good enough and they are comfortable not only with themselves but also with others. This is the confidence I think we all aspire to.
First of all, let’s unpack what confidence really means to you – does it mean:
- Walking with your head held high, not caring what other people think?
- Wearing anything you want to and feel fantastic?
- Going for ‘that’ job that you’ve always wanted or starting a new business?
- Being more comfortable in your own skin, benefiting those who you interact with?
So, step 1 is for you to get really clear on what it means for you in your life.
Next, it’s time to explore it. What have you given up? What have you missed out on? What opportunities have you lost because of your lack of confidence?
The biggest piece of advice that I would give you about confidence is that actions of confidence comes first, the feelings of confidence comes later.
“You must do confidence before you feel confident.”
We assume people who have confidence have always felt that way. Not true, they have just as much fear as you do. The difference is that they feel their fear and do it anyway (btw – I love this book – I highly recommend for anyone who has fear holding them back from their dreams and goals!).
So go back to your initial list of what confidence means to you. You have explored how it has been holding you back from living the life you want to live. Now I want you to explore your fears for each one of your definitions. If you were to go for that job or start your own business, what are your greatest fears? Is it that you might be scared of rejection or failure or scared of taking on more responsibility? Or are you scared of success – are you scared of earning more money than your partner for instance, or showing up other people with your success? List as many fears as you can (even if some of them sound irrational to you).
Now consider where those fears have come from. If your fear is around rejection, what does that remind you of? When were you rejected? By whom? Check in to see whether your current fears are perceived or real? Either way they are real for you, but are you holding onto something from the past that may no longer serve you anymore?
Russ Harris in his book The Confidence Gap believes genuine confidence is not the absence of fear, it is a transformed relationship with fear. Fear is nothing more or less than an unpleasant feeling – it doesn’t need to stop you from doing what you want. It’s not fear that holds you back, it’s your attitude towards it.
We tend to avoid and run away from our fears. For this week I want you to sit with them and feel the discomfort (however unpleasant). Get to know them and what they are about. Your fears have valuable information for you. Until we can deal with our fears, sit with them and acknowledge them, we will continue to put our lives on hold and not have the authentic confidence we desire.
Next week, I will share with you some strategies to take this one step further which is around acceptance of our fear rather than avoidance to take us one step closer to being a more confident you!
Please share this post on Facebook if it resonated with you, you just don’t know who needs a sparkle of confidence today 🙂