"The mind is everything. What we think, we become." (The Buddha)
Everyone has their ups and downs. No matter how confident we may seem on the outside, I don't know anyone who's 100% confident all the time. While many of us sail along most of the time feeling pretty much OK, every now and again things can conspire to shake our confidence and our sense of self.
The word confidence comes from the Latin confidere, which means to have full trust. Confidence is about having faith in yourself – in your qualities and your abilities – and trusting that whatever life throws at you, you'll be able to handle it.
So when our confidence falters, how do we recalibrate? What can we do to restore our equilibrium? Here are some ideas:
1. First and foremost be really good to yourself. This may sound trite, but when our confidence is shaky we can be unreasonably hard on ourselves and give ourselves a tough time for not 'doing better'. So a good way to start building your confidence is to practice some "extreme self care." Put yourself at the top of the list, nurture and be kind to yourself.
2. The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines confidence as: “A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities." With this in mind, write a list of 25 things you like about yourself and/or that you think you do well.
3. Celebrate your achievements. Keep an achievement journal where you write down everything you’ve achieved during the day. No matter how small they may be, acknowledging your achievements will help you to focus on the positive and restore your optimism.
4. Create a ‘Feel Good' Box and fill it with positive, encouraging notes, emails, letters, certificates, pictures – anything that makes you feel good and reminds you how brilliant you are. You could include the list you've just made in (3) above. Reach for this folder whenever you feel your confidence is waning. Even better, create a collage that you can display somewhere and see easily.
5. Surround yourself with people who love and support you and who will encourage you to succeed.
6. Spend as little time as possible with those who criticise you or undermine your confidence. The messages we receive from those around us can impact on how we feel about ourselves, so choosing not to be around those who erode our confidence is really important.
7. Give yourself a quick confidence boost by getting a new hair-cut, throwing out a piece of clothing that's old and baggy and doesn't suit you and buying something new, or upgrading your immediate environment in some way. These external factors can affect how we feel internally.
8. Watch your language. If you're feeling a bit low you might be tempted to put yourself down in front of other people – resist at all costs! If this is the message you're giving out to the world, it will be having a negative impact on you, too. If someone pays you a compliment, don't try to deflect it, but respond with a simple “thank you.”
9. Get outside into the fresh air. Take some exercise. Even a short walk will take your attention off yourself and out into your surroundings.
10. Confidence comes from taking action and the very best way to boost your confidence is to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. So set yourself a couple of ‘stretch’ goals: it may feel uncomfortable, but your confidence will soar when you achieve them.
And finally … in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt … remember that "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."
© Annabel Sutton, Coaching Tips – 2011