When we are confident and believe in ourselves, we feel more able to take 'risks' and do the things that scare us. We don't mean risks like jumping out of a plane here (unless that's a goal of yours of course!), but activities that our brain might perceive as a risk like speaking up and doing something new.
When we don't have this confidence in our abilities, we can find certain areas of our life affected. Relationships can break down, careers can stale and lifestyles can become unbalanced unless we take action to improve these qualities.
Here we take a look at how and why a lack of confidence evolves and how a coach can help you build confidence. We’ll also explore a number of techniques you can try at home to boost your self-belief.
What is self-belief or self-confidence?
Self-belief or self-confidence is the way that you feel about your skills, abilities and behaviour. Those with high confidence levels may grasp things quickly and trust that they can complete tasks to a good standard. Self-trust is often considered the foundation of confidence.
Confidence can also be described as the way we project ourselves to others. We don't have to truly feel confident in our abilities to appear confident to others. Many people can portray an image of complete confidence whilst shaking with fear on the inside. This idea of 'fake it til you make it' can be a helpful tool (we need to take action to feel confident, even if we're scared while doing it), but if you feel you're constantly faking it and aren't feeling any more confident, you may need to do some deeper work.
What is self-worth or self-esteem?
Self-worth or self-esteem describes the way you feel about yourself, regardless of your appearance, achievements and capabilities. It’s closely associated with pride in yourself and self-respect. If you have high self-esteem you are typically happy in your own skin and have a positive opinion of yourself.
Having low self-esteem can be damaging to your mood and mental health. Feeling that you are worth less than others may lead you to strive for unrealistic perfection. Common associations with low self-esteem are depression and guilt, and you may constantly try to prove your worth to others.
Do you lack confidence and self-belief?
Your behaviour, your body language, how you react to different situations and how you speak can depict your confidence levels and the amount of belief you have in yourself.
Self-belief and self-confidence are thought to be made up of several factors:
- physical presence
- social confidence
- status confidence
- peer independence
- stage presence
If you’re lacking self-belief and confidence you may feel:
- uneasy and shy
- uncertain of what you want and who you are
- a sense of worthlessness
- negative about your abilities and yourself in general
- you are unable to enjoy and relax in situations that you’d like to
- as if you haven’t got a sense of direction in life
On the other hand, if you are full of self-belief and confidence you may feel:
- greater enjoyment of life in general
- comfortable when facing new challenges
- excited about new opportunities
- confident about your opinions and ideas
- a great sense of achievement
- respected by other people
- at ease in social situations
- able to be yourself
- sure of yourself and what you want
Wherever you sit on the spectrum, know that both self-worth and confidence can be developed. Some can do this through self-help, others find support from a confidence coach helpful. It may take some time to build upon your current confidence levels, but the amount you gain is well worth the effort.
How can coaching improve my confidence and self-belief?
Coaches are equipped with the tools and techniques to help you develop your confidence and self-belief. Confidence coaching is designed to help you raise your self-esteem and create a positive outlook on life, starting from within. The aim is to help you challenge any limiting beliefs that you have about yourself, boost your self-esteem and build a strong self-image.
When you start coaching sessions, the first thing to do is understand your current level of self-esteem, then you have a base to build upon. You’ll gradually increase your self-worth and confidence over time until these traits become deeply ingrained facets of your personality.
It all starts from within, you are not broken and therefore you do not need fixing. Once you start to notice your self-talk and your self-language you will soon come to realise that you are self-sabotaging. Becoming aware of your self-sabotaging thoughts and language will allow you to realise the damage you are creating, you can then replace with self-praising thoughts and language and discover the true you.
- Read more from Master NLP Coach Vicki French.
Confidence at work
Being confident at work is crucial for career success: from just starting or running a business, confidence is key in most occupations. Having a strong sense of self-belief will affect how you communicate with colleagues and clients, as well as how effective you are in your output and your enjoyment of your job.
Being confident in the workplace helps you be more proactive, assertive and focused. Here are some areas that a coach could cover with you if you are struggling with confidence at work:
- leadership coaching
- business coaching
- public speaking
- conflict resolution
If you lack confidence at work more than other areas in your life and struggle to believe you warrant the success you’ve achieved, you might be experiencing imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is the inability to warrant yourself pride for your accomplishments. The persistent feeling of inadequacy may haunt you, even though there is definitive proof that your achievements are the result of hard work and talent. You may experience feelings of intellectual fraudulence and severe self-doubt.
You may feel like you aren’t a competent, successful individual, you are instead imposing as such. ‘Imposter’ feelings can appear in many forms, but they tend to fit into the following three categories:
1. Feeling like a fake
You may feel like you have deceived others into thinking that you are more competent than you actually are. You don’t think you deserve your professional position or success. This is typically coupled with the fear of being ‘found out’.
Statements that you may identify with:
- “I'm afraid of the time when my colleagues discover my lack of professional knowledge.”
- “I often come across as a more competent person than I actually am.”
2. Your success is attributed to luck
You may have a tendency to feel all of your success is down to luck or another external variable, rather than your skills and perseverance.
Statements that you may identify with:
- “This won’t happen again.”
- “I just got lucky.”
- “This was a total fluke.”
3. Downplaying success
Often when you achieve things that others congratulate you for, you will discount your success. You may feel that the achievement itself could have been accomplished by anyone.
Statements that you may identify with:
- “It’s not that big of a deal.”
- “It wasn’t that important.”
- “The reason I did so well was that it was an easy task.”
You may only identify with these feelings in certain situations, or you may know friends or colleagues that exhibit some of these traits. If you have imposter feelings, you can take positive steps toward changing them. A coach can offer help and give you the motivation you need to get your professional life back on track.
Confidence building tips
Practice these five tips to build confidence in-between your coaching sessions.
1. Work to remove negativity from your life
If you have constant negative feelings towards yourself and doubt your abilities, evaluate your inner circle of friends and family. It can be tough, but if those closest to you are the cause of your lack of confidence, you may have to step back from those relationships. Even a temporary break can offer a real positive step towards confidence building.
2. Change your body language
You can slowly start confidence building by changing your body language. This starts with your posture, eye contact and smiling. A simple smile with your shoulders back emanates confidence. Smiling will not only make others more comfortable around you, but it can also make you feel better too. Try to imagine a person who is smiling with good posture - this person looks self-confident.
3. Avoid accepting failure
Don’t give up and accept failure. Try to reframe failure as an opportunity to learn instead - succeeding through perseverance can be one of the best confidence boosters.
4. Be prepared
Whatever you’re facing next, learn everything there is to know about the subject. If you are prepared and knowledgeable, you will feel more confident.
5. Keep a note of your achievements
Our brains have a negativity bias that makes it difficult to remember our achievements. Make a habit of noting your achievements down and create a list of all the things you are proud of accomplishing (no matter how small). Pin this list up somewhere you will regularly see it. This will remind you how much you've already achieved and can be especially powerful when your self-confidence is waning.
Know that however you're feeling, you're not alone. To find support and accountability to take those steps towards confidence, use our search tool and find a coach today.
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