Self-confidence is an inner voice telling us we can do something, and do it with a sense of well-being. That’s a great power and without it, think of all the things you couldn’t have done - big and little things.
Without it I couldn’t have stood up, delivered a speech and shared nostalgic moments with the congregation. I couldn’t have looked around at their faces, paused with a smile and continued speaking with relative calm. Without self-confidence I couldn't have taken a taxi into town alone, walked up the steps in my heels, bought a drink and sat at a table with couples and work parties bubbling around my sober self. Without self-confidence, I may not have moved to London, started afresh and set up my business.
Self-confidence is attractive. The couples at the table in that bar noticed me; one of the women asked me why I was there - I had drawn her attention and she wanted to know my little story. When I told her she smiled and said ‘that’s just great, I must tell my colleagues about you - I definitely couldn’t have come here on my own like you’. Later one of the guys told me ‘just keep doing it’ and added ‘you look great’. Self-confidence made this possible.
It’s swings and roundabouts though. Our self-confidence can ebb and flow from one scenario to another and from day to day. One thing I’d like to do, if I had the self-confidence, is to get up from my seat in the corner and give karaoke a try: something I feel I’ve never had the verve to do, and likely never will. Ask anyone when and where they are most and least self-confident and their answer may surprise you. Friends are surprised to hear that I often flake when it comes to interviews, while I have a flair for family speeches.
One time when I experienced both low self-confidence and high self-confidence was when I decided to leave a great job that I had worked so hard to get. I could no longer face the large meetings where I wasn't making any contributions, and where I always felt low and pretty useless as the only one who didn’t speak. Pressure was mounting for me to participate more, take a lead from time to time, and flex out in my management role. But my a lack of self-confidence in those areas just kept letting me down.
When I left the job, I felt I was running away. But here’s the positive: the week before, I had sat looking across the river at London Bridge - a special moment I’ll never forget when I can say I owned it - and I had visualised an alternative, with a clear goal in mind. As I focused on self-awareness, drawing on my strengths and challenging my doubts. I simply affirmed to myself ‘‘No - I don’t have to do this - I can choose to do something else.’ I probably had some song mantras playing in my head: 'search for the hero inside yourself’ or something cheesier still.. It was then I had decided to leave the job, pack up my skills and to take them with me on a new exciting journey - one I'd need a lot of self-confidence for to switch from a well-paid full-time job to freelancing, but it was time to take the risk and I did.
Some of the strategies I used that day were visualisation, self-awareness, goal-setting, challenging my doubts, having a mantra and just being able to say ‘No’. I could also have used affirmations, emulated others, and celebrated my past achievements - all good self-confidence boosters.
Now here’s another good tip for increasing your self-confidence: get to know your self-saboteur (a sort of destructive personality that we all have in one form or another). Doing a quick test online can help you find your own nasty self-saboteur. One test revealed my self-saboteur to be ‘avoider’ meaning I really tend to avoid unpleasant tasks - no surprise to me as I often feel like I flee when pressure mounts. No doubt we all avoid unpleasant things, but I know how much I avoid conflict, which doesn’t help me in trying to build my confidence muscles. I have to remind myself (and my avoider!) that I can't just keep hoping that certain things will go away, instead I really should take matters into my own hands and deal with them properly. By getting to know the negative traps that our self-saboteur personality falls into, we can take another step towards self-confidence.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve been on a journey of high and low self-confidence. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Head over to my forum to share your self-confidence stories. Do you have a mantra or song to boost your self-confidence? Sometimes it just takes a little ‘Roar’ from Katy Perry or the Gloria Gaynor survival technique, especially powerful when teamed with visualisation.
Judy, who loves to wear a nice outfit and stay around familiar faces, has started the conversation and Sally, an upcoming clothes stylist, will be adding some tips on dressing for self-confidence while sharing her own experiences of self-confidence ebb and flow (find out how a self-confidence dip caught her unawares). Nilda likes to deep clean the house and cook dinner for her loved ones. We've all got our fab little ways to hear our confident inner voice and just own that thing!
“She’s just a girl and she’s on fire” - Alicia Keys