Have you met people who seemed so sure of themselves, that you thought, “I’d like to come across like that?” They just seem to exude confidence. Are some people just born with confidence, or is it something one can develop? Think of someone you know who seems confident; how would you describe that person, and how is their confidence expressed?
It doesn’t take long in life to realize that one needs confidence to get ahead, reach goals, and succeed. It is like the fuel that runs an engine; it launches one forward and generates energy as one goes. It also applies to all aspects of life – academic, professional, social, physical/athletic, financial, and emotional.
The word, confidence originates from Middle French, meaning “firmly trusting, bold.” One can have confidence in oneself, in others, in organizations, etc. Confidence in oneself is an inner sense of being capable, and thus it comes with a sense of sureness and security. It has a quality of humility, rather than arrogance. In this way having confidence is empowering because it feels unshakable. With it comes being comfortable in one’s own skin and standing on firm ground. Having confidence in something outside of oneself may also provide a sense of predictability, certainty, and assurance.
Can one appear confident while not feeling confident?
Maybe you’ve been told that you seem very confident, but you don’t really feel that way inside. Perhaps you have been tasked with giving a presentation at work, but you lack the confidence in yourself to do so successfully. Doing your “homework” in terms of information gathering, research, and practicing delivery can go a long way in promoting confidence, if only to get through the presentation. Solid preparation shows and can make one appear confident even when one doesn’t feel confident.
How can confidence be diminished or shattered?
So, how does confidence get shaken if it is such a powerful commodity? Sometimes confidence is a factor of situations, accomplishments, and validation from others. While some people seem to embody an innate confidence all the time, self-confidence is not a destination; it is more a process of learning and gaining awareness and trust in oneself; therefore, it needs to be practiced. Confidence is not necessarily constant; it can wax and wane like other feelings. There are times one feels more confident than others. It might be a message we tell ourselves or an assumption we make that results in our confidence wavering. It might be external factors, such as others’ perceptions or circumstances outside our control that result in unexpected or disappointing outcomes. If these things happen frequently over time, confidence can weaken. Also, a major life event, such as job loss or divorce, can erode confidence.
How can one gain confidence?
Sometimes gaining confidence means taking a leap of faith and doing something you do not feel confident about. It might even be outside your comfort zone. Action and subsequent evidence of progress and success help build confidence. When you acquire more and more evidence, confidence becomes more deeply rooted as a strength and feeling of security. That strength and momentum propel you forward with confidence and a belief in yourself.
Try new things - gain new experiences and develop new skills. Remember a time when you tried something new; you may not have felt very confident in the beginning, but over time and with more practice, familiarity, and skill, you probably became more confident in your ability with this new endeavor and in yourself. You probably even took a few risks as you gained confidence. This doesn’t mean that you did not make mistakes along the way. Allow yourself to be imperfect when learning new things as you move toward success.
Reset expectations. If we have high expectations of ourselves in new situations, we may lose confidence when we cannot meet these expectations. Try lowering your expectation and approaching a new situation, learning, or task with curiosity and patience. Set realistic goals that you can achieve.
Follow through with commitments. Keeping your word and doing what you say you’re going to do is important in sustaining confidence in yourself, as well as others’ confidence in you. Sometimes commitments need to be renegotiated, but if one repeatedly does not hold oneself accountable to commitments and promises, confidence erodes little by little.
Develop awareness of your inner resources. Acknowledge your strengths, which will bolster your confidence. It can be helpful to write a list of your strengths, so that you see them and can refer to them when confidence wavers. Maybe partner with a friend, who can share their perspective of your strengths and remind you of them.
Recall success. When confidence lowers, shift your thoughts and remember a specific situation that went well. What qualities in you contributed to its success? Connect with the feelings you had about yourself in that situation. This can reignite self-confidence pretty quickly.
The body conveys confidence. Something as simple as adjusting one’s posture by standing up straight, holding the shoulders back and the head upright can make one feel more confident, and also conveys confidence to others. This erect, open body language says, “I’m present and ready to engage.” The breath is another powerful conduit to confidence; deep, slow breaths calm the nervous system, allowing one to relax and access confidence, as well as peacefulness.
Bring to mind someone you admire who is confident in themselves. Think about some of the things that person has done, or maybe simply how that person IS in the world. What inspires you about the person, and how can this inspire more confidence in you? Sometimes reflecting on another’s qualities and “trying them on” is a start to adopting that quality in oneself.
Having confidence boosts self-esteem, courage, and assertiveness, which are critical to having a fulfilling and successful life. It helps one step into life’s experiences, thus being empowered to meet each opportunity that comes along. Even when things do not turn out as one wants, having confidence strengthens one to pick up and try again. Confidence breeds resilience and a willingness to discover new opportunities. Ultimately confidence increases a sense of wellbeing and is key for strong mental and emotional health. It is a powerful attribute and skill that can help you navigate so many aspects of life.
What to do TODAY?
Karen Natasha Coaching helps many people build and access awareness about themselves, which can increase their confidence, so that they are empowered to realize their goals and dreams. We help people shift their energy, so that they are able to move ahead with assurance, confidence, and renewed energy to achieve their goals. Contact Karen Natasha Coaching for a consultation to experience how we can help.