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What would you do with more confidence?
Would you boldly pursue your passion and live your purpose?
Would you ask for the raise or promotion you deserve?
Would you put yourself out there to make new friends or attract your dream clients?
Sure, confidence can help you achieve all of those things.
But the truth is: you don’t need confidence to take big steps like that.
In fact, taking the big step creates confidence.
But in between those steps, you can build confidence over time. With smaller, more manageable actions you can start today. Here are 5 ways to increase your confidence now:
1. Get to know yourself
Self-awareness is the foundation for improving anything in your life, and that goes for confidence, too.
Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself for who you truly are and to understand your motivations, emotions, reactions, and behaviors through introspection and reflection. It’s like stepping back to see a picture of yourself as you are in the moment.
True self-awareness goes beyond collecting information about yourself. It’s also about paying attention to your inner world with a beginner’s mind and an open heart. Rather than judging your reaction to a situation or thinking, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” self-awareness gives you a language to describe the underlying reasons for your emotions.
For example, if you’re afraid to try something new or step outside your comfort zone for fear of failure or rejection, your brain catalogs that information and stores it as a credible reaction. Your brain relies on patterns, so next time you’re faced with something new, your brain remembers your reaction, and you’ll feel afraid again.
Improving your self-awareness helps you to become conscious of these patterns and behaviors. You can recognize your emotions and reactions to similar situations over time. You can free yourself from limiting beliefs by acknowledging and releasing these thoughts and consciously choosing new thoughts and behaviors.
One way you can build self-awareness is through taking personality or strengths assessments to better understand how you see the world or process information. A few assessments I recommend are:
Another way to build self-awareness is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, with an open mind and open heart.
You can build your mindfulness habit with meditation and journaling. These are two great ways to improve your focus because both activities force your attention on only one thing. Meditation helps you improve awareness of your wandering thoughts. You can meditate with a guided recording or by focusing on your breath. Journaling is particularly powerful because it not only helps us process our thoughts but also makes us feel connected and at peace with ourselves. Writing can also create more headspace as you let your thoughts flow out onto paper.
2. Face your fears
Fear is one of the top confidence-killers. For many of us, fear can stop us right in our tracks, preventing us from stepping outside our comfort zones or living our true purpose.
Some fear is a good thing. It’s a natural response to a real or perceived threat.
If we’re walking by the edge of a cliff or swimming in deep water, we should have a healthy amount of fear to keep us safe. These are real threats that have the potential to harm us if we don’t listen to our fear.
Three of the most common fears related to confidence are: fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of criticism. These are perceived threats because they are things that MIGHT happen. They haven’t actually happened to you, but when you put so much stock into how terrible failure and rejection and criticism are, your brain avoids any risk of them happening to you.
Here’s what a fear of failure might look like: “If I start my own bakery, I won’t have any customers. There are already so many wonderful bakeries in my town; what makes mine so great? I’ll have to lower my prices to attract customers, but then I won’t make any money. I don’t think I can do this. I’ll be a complete failure.”
Here’s what a fear of rejection might look like: “If I ask my boss for a raise, he’ll laugh in my face. He’ll remind me about the time I sent that report out a day late, or ask me why I deserve a raise over my other coworkers. I don’t have a good answer to that because there’s nothing special about me. On second thought, I really don’t deserve a raise. I’ll just wait another year.”
And a fear of criticism: “If I publish this book, I’ll be torn apart. I really want to tell my story to help other women, but I’m not that good of a writer, and I’m not a doctor or professor. Who am I to give advice? I’ll get terrible reviews, and no one will buy it.”
Sometimes I just can’t believe the way we talk to ourselves… notice how all three of these thoughts started out with the word IF. IF this happens… because it hasn’t happened. It’s a fear we made up because we don’t know what will happen. At the root of each of these fears is the fear of uncertainty, which is probably the scariest thing of all for most of us. We fear what we can’t see or don’t know.
To build healthy confidence, you need to face your fears head on. Confidence comes from taking action, and there’s nothing more powerful than feeling fear and acting anyway. A fascinating thing about fears is that if you face them courageously, they diminish. The key to overcoming your fears is to face them quickly and bravely, without giving yourself time to be afraid. When you condition yourself to do the thing you fear, your fear of the situation gradually goes away. You just do what you fear again and again until it holds no more fear for you. You face the fear, confront the fear, and act despite the fear until you are no longer afraid.
So, if you’re afraid of public speaking or putting yourself out there, try taking small steps to overcome your fear. You might not be able to get on a stage and give a TEDx talk right away, but perhaps you could start with a Facebook live or YouTube video where you share your ideas.
Once you start taking these small steps, your brain will get over the initial panic, and you’ll be able to take longer strides over time.
3. Overcome overwhelm
Overwhelm kicks in when you struggle with too many choices, options or responsibilities. The dictionary definition is just too poignant not to share: “to bury or drown beneath a huge mass; to defeat completely.”
I get it – we give ourselves way too many options these days. You might feel buried beneath to-do lists, commitments, activities, career paths, what to eat, what to wear. It’s no wonder you’re completely defeated when it comes time to make a decision.
But the truth is, you’re overwhelmed because you don’t have clarity on what you really want! You don’t truly understand your passions, purpose, goals, hopes, or dreams. You don’t have a clear action plan or roadmap.
And the ironic thing here is that clarity only comes from execution! You can only have clarity in your path when you try something, fail, try something else, and fail again. And yet, if you’re like most people, you’re afraid of failure.
See where I’m going with this? You unknowingly commit yourself to these awful cycles of fear, overwhelm, doing nothing and never trying. You fail anyway because you do nothing. Here’s the even harder truth: Overwhelm is a choice.
You choose to continue this cycle when you don’t give yourself time to prioritize and think about what’s most important to you or what needs to get done first. You choose to do nothing when your anxiety peaks. And you choose to give up on your dreams because it feels like too much work.
To overcome overwhelm, you need to get clear on your priorities or your why. Perhaps that stars with self-awareness, or perhaps it starts with finding your purpose. Either way, having a clear picture of why you want something will give you the motivation and clarity you need to beat feelings of overwhelm.
4. Ditch your self-doubt
Self-doubt is that critical inner voice that tells you that you’re not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough… Incapable of doing what you really want to do. These feelings of weakness or incompetence stem from childhood and become ingrained in your thought process over time. Think about a time in your childhood when your parents told you that you couldn’t do something. It could be as innocuous as “don’t play in the street!” or as damaging as “don’t get your hopes up – you’ll never get into Harvard.”
Remember how your brain catalogs these reactions and pieces of information? The same way your brain processes emotions, it also processes these patterns of keeping you safe. Your parents telling you not to play in the street was their brains trying to keep them (and you) safe. You learned that from them, so you do other things to keep yourself safe, like not taking risks.
But there’s certainly a line where these messages of safety become harmful to your confidence. When someone tells you that you’ll never get into Harvard, or you’ll never become an author, or you’ll never have a successful business, the underlying message your brain hears is, “you’re not good enough to do those things.”
And your brain continues to remember that. Whenever something is hard or scary or uncomfortable, your brain remembers: “you’re not good enough.”
So you start to believe that about yourself in every situation, until it’s a hard-wired belief. In some cases, this can turn into Impostor Syndrome.
Impostor Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon involving the belief that you’re inadequate, incompetent, and a complete failure despite evidence that you actually are successful. It’s also the inability to believe that you deserve success or that you achieved success as a result of your own efforts, skills, or expertise.
To overcome self-doubt or impostor syndrome, start by recognizing the thought for what it is. Is it a doubt-filled or fear-based belief? Or is it the truth?
Being aware of your thoughts and what’s coming up for you is the first step in overcoming this. If you’re not aware of why you’re feeling a certain way – thoughts like, “why am I not good at this?” or “why am I struggling so much with this job or project?” – you can increase feelings of being an impostor. Start to notice your thoughts and identify whether the thought is impostor syndrome, or if you’re really not doing a good job and need to learn more or step up or be more motivated.
Another strategy for overcoming self-doubt is to make a list of your accomplishments. There are two ways to do this. In one version, you can go through the decades of your life (between ages 0-10, 11-20, etc.), and write down all of your accomplishments from each time period, big or small. This way, you have a clear picture of patterns or themes in your accomplishments, and you can see how achievements built on each other to get you to where you are today.
The second version is to make a list of accomplishments every single day. This one is hardest for most women. We tend to think that accomplishment has to be something big and something amazing that we did, but an accomplishment can be something small. It could be “I made it through the day.” No judgement, it’s whatever YOU think an accomplishment is, no matter how small.
When you start to notice your thoughts or make a list of your accomplishments, you can categorize and start to notice the things that you’re doing well every single day, making a mental note and giving yourself evidence that you are enough.
5. Makeover your mindset
A scarcity mindset is the belief that there will never be enough, resulting in feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety. Similar to self-doubt, it’s also the belief that you’re not enough.
On the other hand, an abundance mindset flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It’s grounded in the belief that there is more than enough for everyone.
An abundance mindset can help you build confidence. When you feel secure and confident about what you already have (whether that’s enough money or enough knowledge), or who you are, you’re channeling an abundance mindset.
An abundance mindset is simply always looking for appreciation. It’s about choosing to see the positive and focus on what you already have.
When you focus on the things you’re appreciative for, you naturally pull yourself out of the scarcity mindset. Appreciation for the good things in your life, or the lessons you learned along the way, which helps you cultivate an abundance mindset.
The word appreciation means to increase in value. So, when you concentrate on the good feelings you get from practicing appreciation, those positive feelings will increase. And so will the good things in your life, because you’ll start to notice them more often.
And when you notice the good things in your life, you can’t help but feel more confident and abundant.
A simple mindset shift you can make right now is the Love Being You Mental Model. In every Situation, BE Powerful, BE Confident, BE YOU.
This mental model teaches that your Beliefs create Emotions, which create Behaviors, which create Effects, or the results you get in your life. Situations are neither positive nor negative; it’s your thoughts about them that lead you to perceive them as good or bad. And the Effects you get serve to reinforce your Beliefs, positively or negatively.
So, if you continue to get the same results, you’ll continue to have the same beliefs. This is the thought pattern that’s been keeping you stuck, playing small, or in a scarcity mindset. This is the thought process that you’ve been using for the last 20, 30, 40+ years of your life. So it takes a conscious effort to shift to a new way of thinking.
By using the Love Being You Mental Model with an abundance mindset, you can shift your thought patterns over time, increasing your confidence, and your motivation to take powerful action. It all starts with changing your Belief.
To build confidence, try using this as a journaling exercise: Think about a situation you’re struggling with in your life. One that contributes to your lack of confidence Start by identifying your belief about the situation. Then, write down the emotions you’re feeling, the behaviors you’re acting on, and the effects you’re getting. Write down how those effects then reinforce your beliefs.
Then, consciously choose a new belief about the situation. How can you look at things differently? Can you choose a new belief or thought? Repeat these steps with this new belief and soak in the good-feeling emotions you experience. Doesn’t it feel better to think more abundantly?
Confidence isn’t something you’re born with, and it’s not something you can wish into existence. Confidence comes from taking action. Like a muscle, you can build confidence over time by taking powerful, intentional, and bold steps toward your goals.
Take action now: Start from where you’re at. Choose one of these strategies and set an intention to focus on it for one week. Notice how your confidence changes throughout the week, and write about your experience in your journal. Then, choose another strategy and repeat.