How to Increase your Self Confidence
Are there times when you struggle with a lack of confidence? Does imposter syndrome kick in? Do you experience a loud inner critic?
Does this stop you from performing at your best at work?
For many of us this is true. Most people experience moments of low self confidence at work at some point in their career. I have often really struggled with my own self confidence. It is very improved now and as a result I have more energy and am better at focusing on work. I get more done and I take more risks.
It really is possible to be more confident. Learning to manage our negative thoughts and inner critic is key to our ongoing success in our work and personal life. It helps us overcome imposter syndrome and enables us to step out of our comfort zone.
When our inner critic is quiet we are much more able to have self confidence and see what we are capable of. We become more authentic.
There is both bad news and good news in our quest for building our confidence.
The Bad News
According to Dr Rick Hanson we are programmed for negativity bias and this means that
The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.
There is some thought that on any given day our thinking is 70% negative unless we become aware and manage this. If we don’t, our inner critic can have a good day at our expense.
The Good News
My own experience shows that it is possible to overcome our limiting self belief and learn to manage our inner critic. My self confidence is much higher now than ever, and as I keep applying these practices below it continues to improve. Not perfect – but definitely improving.
It’s not an overnight success story – but with awareness of different approaches and a commitment to practising
Strategies to Build Confidence
Increase self awareness – the more we are aware of our thoughts and feelings, the easier it is to interrupt them. When we are not aware, they sit below the surface and affect how we are feeling and acting. Tune into any tension in your body. Notice your feelings. Become aware of your thoughts.
Practice self compassion – when we are more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can become even more critical of ourselves. Self compassion enables us to become more aware and be gentle with ourselves. Kristen Neff describes self compassion as including 3 core components. Be kind to yourself. See yourself as human (as we have seen struggling with negative thinking is part of our human condition). Practice mindfulness.
Identify the facts – Our negative thinking or low self confidence is often not based on reality. Our brains create a story which may or may not be true – however mostly we believe it. When I feel caught up in low self confidence I write down what is going on. I ask myself honestly Byron Katie’s question ‘Is it true?’ Or I write a list of what is going well and what is difficult? Looking at the facts – even if they are difficult, grounds us in reality and enables us to decide how to act. After all, we shouldn’t believe everything we think!
Move forward – Once we are aware and have the facts then we can move towards being more confident. There are many ways to do this.
- We can practice the ‘Fake it til you make it’ method as recommended by Amy Cuddy.
- Taking small steps builds confidence. For example, if you feel your imposter syndrome in meetings saying ‘you have nothing to add here’ try planning for one small contribution in each meeting and see how it goes. As times goes by chances are it will get easier and you will feel more confident.
- We can Defuse the thoughts and feelings by stepping back from them. Imagine you are a good friend hearing your ‘self talk’. What would they say? Or create a silly song based on your negative thoughts. As soon as we stop seeing the thought as all true and factual it becomes less powerful. Russ Harris has great tips for doing this in his book The Confidence Gap.
- Distraction works – we all have activities that stop us from dwelling on things. Mine is listening to jazz. Yours might be watching youtube videos of cats. Whatever it is, anything that helps us to move away from our inner critic for a moment enables us to manage it better.
I believe that we have a choice to move beyond our limiting self and live a confident life.
Our new Building Confidence course starts on 11th November 2021. Over 4 weeks we focus on strategies to support you in managing your imposter syndrome, calming your inner critic and stepping forward to become more confident.
Find out more HERE.
About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes (ACTP). Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.