Michelle Sales (pictured below) is a speaker, trainer, facilitator and coach and the author of The Power of Real Confidence. In this guest post for B&T, Sales offers five top tips to improve your confidence and improve yourself…
You might call yourself the most confident person in the world, but there are still times when you’ll doubt yourself and question your own ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a new job or running a five kilometre sprint. You are human after all!
So what is it that triggers a confidence hit for you? There are five enemies that work against our confidence and affect our potential, no matter where we are or how good we are feeling in a given situation. Here’s how to deal with them.
Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, ‘This just isn’t good enough, I’ve got to re-work this before anyone can see it’, or ‘I won’t apply for a promotion yet because I’m not quite ready’? When you’re a perfectionist, you refuse to do things unless they are done ‘just right’, so you are guaranteed to win and to wow, without any chance of loss.
The trouble is that confidence is built on you accepting yourself and on you learning from mistakes along the way. So it’s only when you learn to let go and actually take action that you gain confidence, which breaks the cycle of perfectionism. You must acknowledge that you do and will stuff up. But ask yourself: What is the worst that could possibly happen? Chances are you’ll see it will never be as bad as you think.
Why is it that your performance isn’t as strong as someone else’s? Why did she get that job/boyfriend/free holiday? Why does he seem to be juggling kids, career and life more easily than you? Why? Why? Why?
When we make comparisons, we are actually comparing others’ glossy outsides to our scruffy insides. And what people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality. What others do is outside of your control and you can’t change that. However, you can change the way you view yourself. If you have a need to compare, compare with yourself. Strive to be the best possible version of yourself, and make sure that you are continually learning and changing based on those lessons.
We often do not recognise the impact fear has on our confidence. We tell ourselves that we are anxious or stressed or worried about something, instead of using the words ‘I’m afraid’.
The things is that confidence is not about never feeling afraid or nervous or anxious. It is about not letting those feelings stop you. It’s often an irrational fear that’s holding us back – for example, we don’t ask for a pay rise in case the answer is a flat ‘no’. We don’t enter an event for fear we won’t measure up against the other participants. This irrational fear restricts us, and means we never venture far from our comfort zone. So, take a big-picture view instead.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, but do celebrate the small wins. And remember, at the end of the day, don’t ask; don’t get.
Overthinking and negative self-talk are two of the main culprits in destroying our confidence. We think about what was said last night, whether we did that right, and what the weather will be tomorrow. It’s important to pay attention to your self-talk before it spirals out of control. Notice when things are positive. What has helped you be upbeat? Also notice when they are negative or you’re overthinking things. What has led to that? Identify the triggers or elements that are contributing to the negative self-talk, and re-frame these thoughts to something more neutral or positive. A simple process is to identify three things you are grateful for today. You can ask this simple question at the dinner table with your family, or before leaving work for the day with your team. With consistent focus on this, over time you will start to notice the good things in your day.
- Overlooking role models
If you listen to the opinions of everyone and anyone around you, you’ll end up riding a confidence roller-coaster. You need to have positive role models whose opinions you value, and who will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. Understand this feedback is constructive and motivated by their desire to help you to be successful. Positive role models can also see what feedback might be important to you in supporting your confidence and helping you to step up.
You need people around you who provide not only incentive and motivation, but also confidence and inspiration in terms of helping you believe you can actually become what you are trying to achieve.