Becoming more confident at work
What is it about work that brings out our inner insecurities and doubts about ourselves?
Work can feel like a pressure cooker of trying to prove you are capable, whilst all the while inside feeling like you aren’t good enough and panicking that at any time you will get found out and rejected by work colleagues. Our minds create fear-based stories that hold us in this no-confidence place.
There are many ways our confidence can take a hit: it could be your boss who is just a bit too interested in what you are doing, feeling like your job isn’t playing to your strengths, feeling that you just aren’t good enough or getting negative feedback on work you’ve created or perhaps it’s the new starter who is ultra keen and ultra capable. These can all fuel the feelings of not being good enough and make us feel unconfident in our own ability.
This can manifest in feelings of anxiety about certain work tasks or not wanting to put ourselves forward for certain projects when we know that we should be able to do it, but something holds us back. Something that makes us feel incapable, unsure of ourselves and anxious can get us into a downward spiral, the more we do to cover up the fact we are feeling unconfident, the more we feel it deep inside and the more we feel like a fraud, unable to do anything.
But what can be done when we are in this confidence conundrum?
Reflect - Start with reflecting on what specific situations make you feel unconfident - is it in meetings, when you need to speak up? Is it over certain tasks at work? Or perhaps it’s around certain people? The starting point is to become aware of what is stimulating the feeling, so that you can pinpoint and work with it. Often we know we feel unconfident but, we want to turn our back on it and ignore that it is happening - this can make the fear grow even more.
Turn the spotlight internally - What is going on inside around this, what thoughts come up? What beliefs are you buying into about your ability and who you are? Often when we become consciously aware of the beliefs we are buying into, then we can start challenging them and asking ourselves if the thoughts are true (which often they aren’t or there is only a very small element of truth in them).
Use your breath - When you find yourself in challenging work situations, practise breathing out for a longer time - this calms the body and, like an anchor - connects us to our bodies and into the moment, so we can choose how we react.
Focus on your strengths - Often we get consumed with what we need to improve in ourselves, but by refocusing on what you are good at, your strengths, it helps build us up. There are some fantastic online tools on finding out your strengths. This gives you information on what you excel at, not what you need to improve. Ask yourself, "How can I use these strengths in the area I feel unconfident in?" Write down any ideas you have.
Daily challenge - Set yourself the challenge of doing something small every day to push through your fears and increase your confidence. By pushing our comfort zones out gradually, we become more and more capable at growing into who we are meant to be.
Confidence is something we can change and grow. By being aware of what is going on internally, challenging the beliefs and stories holding us back and by using our bodies as a tool to help us, we can slowly but surely, change how we feel and how we project ourselves in work.