You were made confident!
When we are born, we come into this world being the most confident versions of ourselves. We don’t think about not being good, talented, intelligent or interesting enough. We don’t care about what other people think about the way we are and the things we do. We simply are – and others, especially our parents and caretakers, love us for being our authentic selves.
As the years go by and we start experiencing life. We learn from every experience on a conscious and, the more powerful, unconscious level. Gradually, these learnt experiences become our reality which shapes who we become as adults and how we feel about ourselves and our ability to survive in the modern jungle of relentless competitiveness.
Confidence does not equal self-esteem
In the formative years (age 0-8), our caretakers can be careless about their choice of words. For example, being constantly told as a child that you are a bad boy/girl (for doing something which you were not meant to do) effects the formation of your identity on an unconscious level. As a long-term result, disempowering daily mantras such as ‘I’m a bad person’ and ‘As a bad person I’m not worthy of good things in my life’ can develop and impact on our lives negatively. Awareness and the willingness to change are key as everything that was learnt can be unlearnt.
When dealing with children, remember to rather always comment on the action rather than the child i.e. that as a naughty thing to do (rather than you are a naughty child).
Our self-esteem is rooted in our childhood. Basically, self-esteem is the value you see yourself having in the world. ‘Am I worthwhile human being?’ If you answer this question with a ‘yes’ chances are you have pretty high self-esteem. It’s not a quality that changes very much since it is related to a broad sense of personal value or self-worth. For example, if you have high self-esteem at work, you probably have it in other areas of your life too because it is a reflection of how you see yourself.
It’s never too late to be who you might have been.
How to become super confident
Confidence, on the other hand, is related to action, it’s a belief that you can succeed at something. Psychologists call it domain specific. So, you can be confident about one area of your life but completely unconfident about another. ‘I’m a confident manager but I’m not at all confident about speaking in public.’
Therefore, if you want to become more confident in an area of your life you need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. More importantly, you need to take action and expose yourself to doing the activity in which you want to become more confident. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is the approach you should take. The frequency of your exposure and your determination of working through possible set-backs will dictate your success. And guess what happens when you do the work and feel your confidence growing in an area of your life in which you didn’t feel confident before? You guessed it – the chances that you experience a confidence boost also in other areas of your life are pretty high!
3 powerful top tips to boost your confidence
1. Positive Affirmations
On a daily basis, spot-check the thoughts you have about yourself. Write a list of the positive and empowering thoughts. Equally, write a list of the negative and disempowering thoughts you have about yourself. Which category dominates your thinking? Be honest with yourself. It’s ok to admit that you keep thinking thoughts which disempower or limit you. Once you have done this work, start focusing on replacing the thoughts which don’t serve you with the thoughts which do – one thought at a time. A belief is a thought which you keep thinking. The way to do this is to come up with a positive affirmation which resonates with you for every disempowering or limiting thought. Keep repeating it aloud every day, especially when you feel unconfident, and trust that it will help you to feel more confident when you need it to be.
2. Distract your brain
Our fear of being judged or criticized by others has an impact on the actions we take or, more often than not, don’t take as a result of low confidence. The key here is to distract your brain so that it doesn’t get a chance to think about that fear. Distraction with counting is a good one! Let’s say you are not confident about networking and connecting with people. You may be thinking ‘I’m not interesting enough’, ‘I never know what to say’ or perhaps ‘I don’t want to look stupid’. If, as in this case, your brain is not thinking in your favour distract it with counting. Count until 5 whilst you walk to that person! Count whilst you are getting ready to do the activity you feel uncomfortable about.
3. Elicit the most confident version of you
Based on the principles of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), we can ‘anchor’ an empowering state on a point of our body which can be elicited whenever we need it. Alternatively, the ‘Circle of Excellence’ is a spatial anchor which helps us to elicit an empowering state by stepping into our circle.
Although you get the most benefit working with an NLP practitioner, this is essentially how anchoring can work in the instance of confidence:
1. Close your eyes and take yourself back to a time when you were at your most confident and felt great. Where were you? Who else was there with you? What were you doing? What were you saying to yourself? What were other people saying to you? How did you feel?
2. Hear what heard, see what you saw and feel what you felt. See it through your own eyes and feel it as you did then. Really associate with this.
3. As this feeling of confidence flows through your body and increases, just before it reaches its peak, press one of your knuckles (whichever feels best to you) and increase the intensity of the pressure in alignment with the growing feeling of confidence.
4. When you are done, think about something in the future about which you previously didn’t feel confident. Now press your anchor (the chosen knuckle) with the same intensity as before. Notice the change.
5. When you find yourself in a situation where you lack confidence, fire your anchor! The great thing about your anchor is that the more you fire it the better results you get.
Sonja Kirschner MA
Sonja Kirschner MA is the founder of APOWER 3 - Confidence Coaching, Resilience Building & Mind Freedom®. She is an accredited coach and is passionate about empowering women leaders.