Confidence is such an elusive thing. It should be like our shadow, always there but something we are generally unaware of. And it should be equally intrinsic, we’re born believing we’re the most important thing in the universe, when did we lose that?
I was coaching yesterday with a woman who feared she’d left her confidence at her last job; maybe it was still there, in a drawer somewhere.
She’d gone to work at that company just out of University. She’d had great bosses, been given interesting projects and felt good about herself and her experience.
Then she moved to a company with a fast paced, aggressive culture and she just couldn’t find her feet.
She had a new picture of herself, and she didn’t like it. A real low came when she walked up to her intimidating Director’s desk for her monthly meeting. He was just getting up and mentioned he was off to get lunch as he brushed by her, obviously blowing her off.
She said nothing. Slunk back to her desk and wondered what had happened to that confident, outgoing woman she used to be.
Confidence is, literally, all in our heads. It’s how we feel about ourselves. Other people can say things that encourage or diminish us but the way we take that on board, in our own psyche, determines how it affects our confidence.
If you’ve lost yours, it isn’t gone forever, just dormant and in need of a good brushing off.
SO–quick ways to bolster your confidence when you need it.
1. Find a moment from the past. Take a few minutes to locate a time when you felt really confident, maybe your most confident.
How did you feel? How did you walk, present yourself, approach people? What were you wearing, how did people react to you?
Immerse yourself in that memory, think about the details, what did you feel about yourself, how did you approach things?
Give that “self” a name and try to hang on to an image of what you looked like at that moment of self-confidence.
2. Then, with that picture of your confident self, imagine rewriting the script on a recent event that undermined you.
How would you have handled it differently, what would you have said or done, that your confident self would have sailed through?
OK, back in your current shoes, how different was that response then the one you actually used? I suspect not dramatically different, in the words, but substantial in the way it made you feel.
3. What I hear regularly, in my coaching practice, is that the confident self would have taken control, been proactive, maybe used humour or a spontaneous comment. The confident self would have let your personality shine through and bounced away from the awkward situation no worse for wear.
It’s not the words you chose or the things you do that kill your confidence. It’s that sense of defeat, the disappointment that you could have done better, that block the sun and eliminate your confidence shadow.
So, take a deep breath. Just before you charge into the next daunting situation, take a moment to picture your confident self. Picture your laugh, the way you stand, the ease with which you approach people. Pull it on like a shield and take it with you in to the conversation.
Confidence can be lured. Fake it for a bit and you’ll be surprised how quickly you feel it.