Confidence and self-belief can be frustrating companions at times. They often choose to be at their most elusive at times of significant opportunity. When we have that chance to shine we’ve been working so hard for, our self-belief decides to take a break. It leaves the door open, of course, for our imposter to step in and take its place. It’s like a game of hide-and-seek with no winners.
We remember the times we felt out of our depth
I will always remember the first time I was asked for my opinion in a Director meeting. As I heard the question, I could feel the room close in around me. I felt like a spotlight was shining in my face, everyone was waiting for me say something and my mind was blank;. Having spent years waiting for this chance , all I could think of was ‘what am I doing here? I have nothing to say they don’t already know!’ Although I don’t actually remember what I said, I was asked back, so it can’t have been totally inappropriate. I remember how I felt though, and that it took several days for me to locate my confidence. It took several more before I believed I still deserved a seat at the table.
Our self-belief can be a fickle friend; showing up late on too many occasions to recount, leaving us unable to make even the most straight-forward decision without questioning and re-questioning ourselves. Introducing yourself to a new team, without your self-belief firmly established and present, can feel like a nightmare instead of an opportunity. And worst of all, just when you think you have ‘worked on self confidence and conquered it’ you find yourself abandoned once more.
My top tips for those moments when your self-confidence has decided to leave you out there on your own:
- Prepare for being left in the lurch. If you know that, you’ve felt like your confidence disappears when it is needed the most, make like a Scout and “Be prepared”. This might mean taking five minutes for yourself before entering a meeting. Perhaps you need to read something that helps you re-connect with your sense of self-confidence. I love listening to ‘This is me” from The greatest showman – a powerful and uplifting song that gets me feeling powerful and – no surprises here – uplifted. I have it on my tablet and play it often.
- Remind yourself of your ‘why?’ As in ‘why am I doing this thing that is making me feel like running in the opposite direction right now?!” Every time I stand on a stage to speak, I get butterflies in my stomach and a voice questions whether I have a right to be speaking on my topic. I remind myself of why I feel so privileged to be able to share my story and that this might be the day that someone needs to hear what I have to say.
- Change your language about your self-confidence. Do you tell yourself things like “I always blush when I have to speak in public” or “Every time I’m asked to do something for this person I make mistakes”? It’s time to challenge and change that habit you’ve created and come up with something positive to replace it. This takes work, as creating a new habit isn’t going to happen overnight, so stick with it. (Take a look at this blog I wrote about changing your language)
Confidence takes work and practice
I’m often told it must be lovely being so self-confident. People assume that if I am prepared to stand and talk in front of so many people, I must be incredibly sure of myself. I have plenty of days where the voice in my head shakes at the foundations of my self-belief. However, there is a stronger voice that takes over, pretty much every time, and reminds me how I am going to feel after it’s over. Focussing on this has been a big help for me in conquering stage fright, which used to make my knees knock together.
Have you found any techniques that help you in those moments of self-doubt? How about sharing them here, before you talk yourself out of it? Go on, this could be the start of a whole new self-confident habit.