Confidence is fickle, it doesn’t necessarily stay with you for life, through thick or thin.
The good news is, if you’ve lost confidence for whatever reason, you can get it back. I’m living proof of that. After a series of disastrous events, my confidence was so low it was crawling around in the basement making friends with cockroaches.
You can go through life looking and feeling like a confident person, doing brave things, leading teams at work, being the life and soul of the party, never really questioning whether you’re a confident person or not. Until life slaps you in the face and you feel defeated.
- Maybe because of bullying at work
- Maybe because your partner left you after 20 years
- Maybe because you were made redundant
What these events can do if we’re not careful, is make us question our value as human beings.
In the case of bullying at work, you could be great at your job, doing well, until a new manager joins the company and turns out to be a psycho, a bully. You start to question your capabilities, and ultimately, your value. When the thought enters your mind that maybe you’re “not good enough”, it can be the start of a dangerous negative feedback loop that feeds on itself, growing into a monster and with seriously devastating effects.
What is confidence anyway?
I believe true confidence is the type that doesn’t get stripped away so easily.
Confidence is the knowing that you’ll find a way through any difficult life situation. It’s knowing that whatever happens, it won’t be the end of you and in fact it could be the beginning of something.
True confidence is when you’re no longer bothered by being judged. Confidence is accepting that judgement happens anyway whether you like it or not, and getting on with living your best life regardless.
Confidence is being ok with looking stupid, and even ok with being rejected by someone. Because you know your value.
What can you do?
There’s no killer app for this, you have to do a bunch of stuff and put certain practices into play.
You don’t want the old confidence back, the one that ran out of the door with your 20 year marriage. Start building a new type of confidence that’s more robust and less likely to crumble when life throws you a curveball.
Do an inventory
Create a list of all your achievements, skills, virtues and qualities. The good things you’ve done for other people. The exams you’ve passed. Things you’ve overcome. The children you’ve raised. Your talents, your abilities, your positive personal traits.
Make it go further by asking friends and family to contribute.
Read it out loud before you go to bed, every night until you get it: You’re a valuable human being.
Find the golden nuggets
To build confidence, you need to take learnings from the past and add them to your store room – because one day you’re going to need them. And knowing you’ve got a stash of dry goods in the larder in case of emergency is a really good feeling.
I believe everything that happens to us in life, good or bad, is a gift. Sometimes the gift looks like a turd. But don’t be fooled – somewhere in that turd is a golden nugget. Sorry but you need to rummage around until you find it.
Your learnings must be taken forward because when the same shit strikes again, as it usually does, you’ll be ready for it. There’s nothing like being tooled up to make you feel confident.
Stay vigilant over your thoughts
Confidence can disappear in a flash when we’re not managing our minds. Learn to recognise what you’re really thinking, because it isn’t all “I need to buy a carton of milk on the way home”. Somewhere amongst all the to-dos are thoughts you’re having about yourself, and you might be surprised to find how bitchy they can be. So get into the practice of tuning in to Radio Nasty and start cleaning up.
Interrogate the negative thoughts – do not let them in. Dissolve them before they enter the palace of your mind and cause havoc.
Download some courage
Start building your capacity to take a hit and keep going.
Take small brave steps to build your resistance to being judged or looking stupid. By putting yourself out there, repeatedly, you’ll instill courage, which in turn gives you confidence.
Take small brave steps to ‘perform’ in front of people, doing something you wouldn’t normally do.
An excellent way to do this is by joining a Toastmasters International group. Everyone is in the same boat, trying to build confidence by putting themselves in front of an audience. You will be in a supportive environment, where you can take risks without breaking anything. And if you fall you’ll be caught by the rest of the group who’ll tell you how amazing you are.
So, if your confidence has run out on you, let it go, and say “hi” to the all new and improved confidence. The one that will carry through life whatever or whoever comes your way.