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Productive Life Coaching: Confidence

Nov 25, 2021

By Zainab Jada
22:11:2021

What is Confidence?

Confidence means feeling sure of yourself and your abilities — not in an arrogant way, but realistically and securely. Confidence isn’t about feeling superior to others. It’s the quiet inner knowledge that you’re capable of.

A feeling of trust in one’s abilities, capacities, qualities, and judgement. It’s about valuing yourself and feeling worthy, regardless of imperfections or what others may believe about you. Having a healthy level of confidence can help you become successful in your personal and professional life. Confidence is essential to your health and psychological well-being.

Why Confidence Matters

Confidence helps us feel ready for life’s experiences. We’re more likely to move forward with people and opportunities when we’re confident — not back away from them. And if things don’t work out at first, confidence helps us try again.

It’s the opposite when confidence is low. People who are down on confidence might be less likely to try new things or reach out to new people. If they fail at something the first time, they might be less likely to try again. A lack of confidence can hold people back from reaching their full potential.

Benefits of Self-Confidence

Having confidence can bring many benefits—at home, at work, and within your relationships.

  1. Better performance: Rather than waste time and energy worrying that you aren’t good enough, you can devote your energy to your efforts. So ultimately, you’ll perform better when you feel confident. You can rely on your skills and strengths to handle whatever comes up.
  2. Healthy relationships: Having self-confidence not only impacts how you feel about yourself, but it helps you better understand and love others. It also gives you the strength to walk away if you’re not getting what you deserve. You feel secure rather than insecure.
  3. Openness to trying new things: You’re more willing to try new things when you believe in yourself. Whether you apply for a promotion or sign up for a cooking class, putting yourself out there is a lot easier when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You feel ready for everyday challenges like tests, performances, and competitions.
  4. Resilience: Believing in yourself can enhance your resilience or ability to bounce back from any challenges or adversities you face in life. Think: “I can” instead of “I can’t.”

Believing in Yourself

Has someone told you that you’re smart? Funny? Kind? Artistic? A good student? A good writer? A good athlete?

When people praise us or recognise our skills and capabilities, it can boost our confidence as long as we believe these good things, too. If you’ve ever doubted the good things people say about you, that’s the opposite of self-confidence.

To feel truly confident, you need to believe you are capable. The best way to get that belief is through using your skills and talents by learning and practising.

Confidence helps us move forward to discover and develop our capabilities. When we see what we’re capable of and take pride in our achievements, confidence gets even more vital.

Confidence and Behaviour

Take a look at the table below, which compares confident behaviour with behaviour associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognise in yourself?

Confident Behaviour
Doing what you believe to be correct, even if others mock or criticise you for it.

Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence

Governing your behaviour based on what other people think.

Confident Behaviour

Being willing to take risks and to go the extra mile to achieve better things.

Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence

Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure, and avoiding risk.

Confident Behaviour

Admitting your mistakes and learning from them.

Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence

Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.

Confident Behaviour

Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.

Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence

Extolling your virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.

Confident Behaviour

Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I worked hard on that. I’m pleased you recognise my efforts.

Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence

Dismissing compliments offhandedly.’ Oh, that prospectus was nothing; anyone could have done it.” As these examples show, low self-confidence can be self-destructive and may manifest itself as negativity.

Self-confident people are generally more positive – they value themselves and trust their judgement. But they also acknowledge their failures and mistakes and learn from them.

How to appear more confident to others

Picture anyone you know that you think of as highly confident – what characteristics do they have that make you believe this? It’s most likely one or more of these things:

  1. The way they speak (tone, how they project their voice, words)
  2. Their energy and enthusiasm
  3. How expert or knowledgeable they are about something

You can show self-confidence in your behaviour, your body language, and in what you say and how you say it. Projecting a positive image to others can help you to improve your self-confidence. It’s not simply a matter of “faking it” – if your project is with confidence, others are more likely to respond well, and this positive feedback will help you believe in yourself.

How to gain More Confidence

Build a confident mindset

When your inner voice says, “I can’t,” retrain it to say, “I can.” Or you could also say, “I know I can learn (or do) this if I put my mind to it.”

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Whether you compare how you look to your friends on Facebook or compare your salary to your friend’s income, comparisons aren’t healthy. A 2018 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found a direct link between envy and how you feel about yourself.

Researchers found that people who compared themselves to others experienced envy. And the more envy they experienced, the worse they felt about themselves. If you’re feeling envious of someone else’s life, remind yourself of your strengths and successes.

Consider keeping an ongoing gratitude journal to help you focus on your own life and not the lives of others. When you notice you are drawing comparisons, remind yourself that doing so isn’t helpful. Everyone is running their race, and life isn’t a competition.

Compare yourself kindly. It’s natural to compare ourselves with other people. It’s a way to understand ourselves and develop the qualities we admire. But if comparisons often leave you feeling bad about yourself, it’s a sign to work on your confidence and self-esteem.

Shake off self-doubt

When we doubt our abilities, we feel inferior, unworthy, or unprepared. That can make us avoid people and situations we might enjoy and grow from.

Take a safe risk

Sign up for a school committee, volunteer to help with a project or bake sale, etc. Raise your hand in meetings more often.

Feel at ease to voice your opinion or concern.

Challenge yourself to do something that’s just beyond your normal comfort zone. Pick something you’d like to do if only you had more confidence. Give yourself a little push and do it. Now that you’ve done that pick something else to try — and keep repeating this same process. Confidence grows with every step forward.

Know your talents and help them shine. We’re taught to work hard to improve our weaknesses. Sometimes that’s important, like bringing up a bad grade. But don’t let working on a weakness prevent you from getting even better at the things you’re good at.

Do your homework, be it school or office related. Study. Do assignments. Prepare for staff meetings, office, class, tests, and quizzes. If you’ve been keeping on top of class or office work all along, you’ll feel more confident in meetings, trials, and finals. The best defence against office/test anxiety and school stress is steadily keeping up and doing the work.

Dare to be the real you. Let others see you for who you are.

Mistakes, insecurities, and all. Insecurities are easier to move past when we don’t feel like we have to hide them. Embrace your quirks instead of trying to be like someone else or acting in a way that’s not true to you. It takes courage and confidence to be accurate. But the more authentic we are, the more self-confident we become. Confidence builds self-esteem.

Take Care of Your Body
It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re neglecting your body. On the other hand, if you practice self-care, you know you’re doing something positive for your mind, body, and spirit, and you’ll naturally feel more confident.

Here are a few self-care practices linked to higher levels of self-confidence:

Diet: Eating well comes with many benefits, including higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. When you fuel your body with the right foods, you feel healthier, stronger, and more energised, resulting in feeling better about yourself.

Exercise: Studies consistently show physical activity boosts confidence. A 2016 study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that regular physical activity improved participants’ body image. And when their body image improved, they felt more confident.

Zikr/Meditation: More than just a relaxation practice, meditation can help boost self-confidence in several ways. For one, it enables you to recognise and accept yourself. Meditation also teaches you to stop negative self-talk and disconnect from any mental chatter interfering with your self-confidence.

Sleep: Skimping on sleep can take a toll on your emotions, whereas good, quality sleep has been linked with positive personality traits, including optimism and self-esteem.

Practice Positive Self-Talk: Using optimistic self-talk can help you foster self-compassion, overcome self-doubt, and take on new challenges. On the other hand, negative self-talk can limit your abilities and lessen your confidence by convincing your subconscious that you “can’t handle it” or that something is “too hard” and you “shouldn’t even try.” The next time you begin to think that you have no business speaking up in a meeting or that you are too out of shape to work out, remind yourself that your thoughts aren’t always accurate.

Here are a few examples of how to challenge pessimistic self-talk and reframe your thoughts into a more positive way of thinking: Instead of telling yourself “I can’t handle this,” or “This is impossible,” try reminding yourself that “You can do it,” or “all I have to do is try.” Instead of telling yourself, “I can do nothing right”, when you make a mistake, remind yourself “, I can do better next time,” or “at least I learned something.” Instead of saying you “hate” public speaking, use a milder word like “don’t like,” and remind yourself that “everyone has strengths and weaknesses.”

Be Kind to Yourself: Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness when you make a mistake, fail, or experience a setback. It’s a way of relating to yourself that allows you to become more emotionally flexible and better able to navigate challenging emotions and enhances your connection to self and others. Researchers have linked the ability to relate to ourselves in a compassionate way to self-confidence.

A 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality found that self-compassion contributes to more consistent confidence. So, the next time you’re in a challenging situation, recognise that being imperfect or falling short at times is a part of living. Do your best to navigate these experiences with self-compassion.

IN A NUTSHELL

Confidence levels go up and down for all of us, even the most confident-seeming people.

If something shakes your confidence, show yourself some understanding. Don’t criticise yourself. Learn from what happened, think about what you could have done differently, and remember it for next time. Talk about what happened with someone who cares.

Then remind yourself of your strengths and the things you’ve achieved. Get back in the game!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1-verywellmind.com
2-mindtools.com
3-kidshealth.org

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