That magic ‘something’ most of us wish we had more of.
But what actually is it? Is it a feeling of invincibility? A feeling of self-worth? Of being able to trust in oneself? Or some kind of melting pot of many different things?
Confidence is one of those things that means different things to different people, so it’s really important to think about what it means for you, and how you can incorporate being more confident in to what you are doing.
If you have ever thought “I can’t do [x, y or z], I’m not confident enough”? then read on. Your thoughts, and the feelings that these thoughts generate are what is keeping you in that 'not-confident' place. And so, by extension, your thoughts are the key to feeling more confident. The trick is to recognise when you are in the ‘not confident’ mindset, and then have a little ‘kit bag’ of tricks up your sleeve to give yourself a little boost when you need it most.
Photo by David Pisnoy on Unsplash
So the next time you feel yourself shying away from something, whether it be an event, a presentation at work, a new gym class or meeting your partners new work colleagues think about these tips and see how you can use them to change how you feel. There are a couple of ‘advance preparation’ type tips to get you started, and then a few ‘in the moment’ tips to help you on the spot:
1. Visualise the confident you
Think about a time when you were at your most confident, when you were feeling good – and try to immerse yourself in that feeling. What were you doing, seeing, hearing, feeling? Now try to absorb that feeling – make this your confidence ‘happy place’ and whenever you need a boost, just bring this memory to mind, and the feeling associated with it should flow too.
2. Step into the ‘you’ you want to be
Another visualisation exercise involves looking at ‘you’ in the third person ie as an outsider. How would the ‘you’ you can see behave if she was feeling confident? What would she be doing, saying, feeling? How would her body language be showing you that she felt confident? Once you know how you want to appear when you are feeling confident, you can ‘step into’ this persona, in a similar way to an actor playing a role. I’m not suggesting trying to be someone completely new, just you with a confident coat on.
3. Power Pose
One thing I come back to again and again, both with clients and with myself, is the Power Pose. I first came across it via Amy Cuddy and her fab TED talk, but if you can take a few moments in private to stand like superman when you need a boost of confidence, I guarantee you will feel better.
4. Put yourself first
If you know that having your hair done makes you feel better, or wearing heels in a work meeting gets you ‘in the zone’ then go for it. It may feel superficial to be worrying about your nails or outfit before a big presentation but if it gives you a boost, or helps you feel like ‘super-you’ then go for it. My nan wouldn’t even go to the corner shop for the paper without her lipstick – it was what she needed to do for her, to help her face the world. What do you need to do for you?
Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash
An easy one to finish with – meet the world with a smile (even if you don’t feel like it). Smiling stimulates a chemical reaction in the brain leading to a release of dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with happiness, and lower stress levels. By forcing yourself to smile, you are tricking your brain into releasing these, and the associated positive feelings will boost your confidence.
Next time you are having a bit of wobble, or are hesitating before a new challenge, take a moment and go through the tips above. And just remember – you can do it!
If this has been useful for you, then please head over and join my free Facebook group The Returnity Lounge for all things ‘careers after having kids‘ related.