Ask the experts: How can I boost my confidence?
Building up confidence can be tough at the best of times, but one of the many side-effects of the pandemic is that, for many of us, our confidence has been knocked. Whether we’re doubting ourselves, feeling nervous about a new job or finding it tough to adjust to the ‘new normal’, cultivating self-trust and belief is crucial.
Here, we ask life and career coach Alana Leggett your confidence questions to learn more about what we can do now to build ourselves back up.
I seem to have lost my spark. I’m full of doubt, second-guessing every thought, feeling, and decision. Are there any techniques I can try to rekindle my self-trust?
I have a lot of clients coming to me full of doubt, and unsure what to do next. I have found that most often this comes down to feeling stuck because there are too many options – which can, ironically, make us feel more trapped. When we don’t know what we want, and there are multiple routes we could take, this often makes us less confident in our decisions. This is called the “paradox of choice” (Barry Schwartz).
One way to feel more decisive, and to reduce self-doubt, is to limit your choices, ruthlessly rule options out, and take action. It doesn’t need to be the perfect idea or the perfect timing – by making any decision, you will no longer feel stuck and will now be in motion.
You can learn from that, adapt as needed, and even change course – but first, you need to get moving. Once taking some form of action, those feelings of self-trust will come back and remind yourself how capable you really are.
I lost my job during the pandemic, and am starting somewhere new. It’s a bit daunting – have you got any advice for coping with change?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of a big change in your life, the first thing to know is that these feelings are normal and completely understandable. The parts of our brain designed for self-preservation don’t like risk, therefore, we’re wired not to enjoy change.
You can’t predict how your first day will go, what your new colleagues will be like, or what will happen long-term, but there are many things that you can control that, in turn, will make you feel less worried and more empowered.
Research the company before you start, pack your bag the evening before your first day, and organise your clothing, so the morning runs smoothly. Do some exercise, even if it’s 10 minutes of stretching, to release some endorphins and wake you up. Put your favourite playlist on. Try to create, and find, moments of joy, while taking charge of all the elements you can control.
The truth is, change will always be daunting, so it’s about finding tips and tricks to rewire the way we think, so that we can ensure we’re in the best frame of mind to take on the challenge.
With all the changes to restrictions, I’m feeling pressured into saying yes to things. I want to set healthy boundaries, but I worry about upsetting people. What should I do?
First of all, it’s worth understanding what it is you want and don’t want, so you have got it clear in your own mind. Next, remind yourself it’s perfectly reasonable to communicate what you would or would not like to do – think about how many people around you do that on a daily basis, and it never seems unreasonable, does it?
Practise will help you to feel less awkward communicating those boundaries. Write down examples of ways you can tell someone your boundary. For example, we can communicate our needs while still being friendly: “I would love to do ‘ABC’ but unfortunately ‘XYZ’ so I will not be able to.” “Thanks so much for thinking of me, and I’d love to join you another time.” Or “I am unable to join you for XYZ, as I am still adjusting to lockdown ending. I’ll let you know when I’m feeling more comfortable.”
The person you need to be most afraid of upsetting is yourself; you’re perfectly within your rights to make choices that make you feel happy, and at peace.
I’ve had a tough year, and my confidence has really been rattled. What can I do to build my self-belief back up?
It’s been an incredibly tough year, and everyone has experienced this differently. The huge sense of uncertainty is enough to rattle anyone’s confidence. One of the best exercises to do, to remind yourself of all your capabilities and strengths, is to literally start a list of all the things that you are great at and all the amazing qualities you possess. It’s very hard to do this exercise and not feel more positive by the end of it!
If you don’t know where to start, ask five friends, colleagues, or family members to tell you three things they like about you, and/or that you do well. Write down the phrases and words from both you and them, and watch the paper fill with the picture of a very capable and worthy person. When you feel unsure, come back to this piece of paper as a starting point.
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