How to boost your confidence and move forward from the past
When I'm coaching clients, I believe it's important not to make the issue [at hand] the sole focus of the conversation. By doing this, it enables and opens up a discussion regarding the reality or perception of the issue. For example, where ‘confidence’ is the problem, asking questions such as, "What does confidence mean to you?" and "What does confidence look like for you?" can lead to a great deal of self-discovery.
Quite often clients can be stuck in the past, allowing prior feelings or experiences to influence the way they approach scenarios in the present, and this can have a major impact on personal growth where confidence is concerned.
In my example, I grew up quite overweight, with both glasses and braces. The way I felt about myself, and indeed was made to feel, at that time in my life stuck with me into adulthood. I spent years feeling unconfident in my appearance, allowing those feelings and thoughts to be my perceived reality. The way I felt then, didn’t have to be how I felt as an adult, and it all came down to my perception of the present, not the reality.
My point here is that sometimes you feel a certain way because of an experience – whether that be a physical one or because you’ve been made to feel a certain way – and those feelings tend to stick, impacting how you go about life in the future. But the truth is: thoughts and feelings are not facts. And thoughts and feelings are not your reality unless you make them so.
How do I move forward?
While coaching is a future-focused tool, it can often touch on feelings and experiences in the past that lead you to where you are today. It’s about understanding these feelings and shifting your mindset into the future, and what you want for your future self. For me, I didn’t appreciate that my perception of myself was due to my prior thoughts, and it was only when I started my coaching journey that I realised I was stuck in the past, letting it impact who I was in the present. Without being challenged on my thinking and allowing time to understand what led me to feel the way I did about my appearance, I would never be able to think differently about my reality and what it was that I wanted.
Coaching is such a breath of fresh air to my life, and I hope others will feel the same impact, especially in areas that can be quite stifling, such as confidence (in whichever form it takes). As a coach, confidence is a topic that manifests itself in all areas of life, from appearance to working life, imposter syndrome, communication, and relationships, to name a few.
4 tips to gaining more confidence
Here are some tips to help in your journey to feeling more confident.
1. Take time to reflect and ask yourself some questions
- Why am I feeling this way?
- Are my thoughts based on my current reality or perceived reality?
- Can you view things differently?
- How would viewing things differently make you feel?
- What does confidence mean to you, and how can you achieve this?
2. Stop the cycle
Sometimes we fall into the trap of going back and reliving memories that impact how we feel about the present. When you notice yourself do this, can you catch that feeling or thought and if you could, what would you do with it, or say to it? Think about what you can do the next time that trap door opens.
3. Be kind to yourself
In today’s society, there is a lot of noise about being kind to each other and quite rightly. But what about being kind to ourselves? I don’t feel we talk enough about this, and I actually think a lot of people find this an uncomfortable notion.
When we lack confidence, we have a habit of self-deprecating, taking us even further from the end goal of confidence. If things don’t work out, if you don’t perform in the way you expected, or if you’ve simply had enough – be kind to yourself, it’s OK for this to happen. Acceptance is a powerful feeling, it can help you mentally draw a line and move forward, appreciating what you have brought to the table, allowing you to focus on where you can feel good about yourself.
That’s right, exercise your confidence. I truly believe that confidence is like a muscle, and it needs to exercised and strengthened. If we aren’t exercising our confidence, how can we expect it to be strong?
A few ways you can do this are as follows:
- Visualise yourself as a confident person. Close your eyes, with your back firmly on the chair and feet grounded. Visualise who you are when you are confident and believe it. Take steps to make that happen.
- Secondly, how about putting yourself out there? You might not want to present in that meeting, but maybe if you put yourself out there, it will bring you one step closer to knowing how to present.
- And finally, we practice for so many things in our lives, why shouldn’t we practise confidence? Apply confidence in small ways whether it be standing your ground if your order is wrong (in a nice way, of course), or speaking your mind in a conversation with friends or colleagues.
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