You know that your life would be infinitely better if you felt more self-confident. You would have the courage to ask for what you want and deal with all that life throws at you.
What’s stopping you?
Let’s first look at exactly what self-confidence is. It’s tough to go after something if you’ve not clear about what you’re chasing. Here are a few definitions I found (other than “confidence in yourself” – duh!):
- The acceptance of oneself.
- A feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.
- Faith in one’s own judgment, ability, etc.
Trust and acceptance.
If you can’t accept who you are in the present moment, you’ll resist it while trying to change it. And we all know that what you resist persists.
And if you can’t trust yourself to do great things, you’ll second-guess yourself, see yourself as not enough or create other excuses for not doing what your heart is screaming out to do.
Acceptance and trust don’t happen overnight.
We’re taught that we should let others who “know better” make decisions for us throughout our lives. Doctors, educators, governments, employers – the list is long. We’re taught that we’re not good, smart, talented, whatever enough.
This programs us to not accept or trust ourselves as we are. We’re supposed to trust and blindly accept the ones who “know better” while rejecting ourselves.
Regardless of how old you are, it’s tough to un-learn this. But it’s essential that you do.
Un-learning the Feeling of “Not Enough”
I wish I could tell you about some magic formula that quickly erases the feelings of not being enough. But I would rather tell you the truth.
It takes time. Lots of time. It takes time to change a lifetime of beliefs.
You’ll need to accept that it’s a process that happens slowly, in thousands of baby steps that build on each other.
You can expedite the process if you’re willing to throw yourself into situations that scare the crap out of your monkey mind, but it’s still not going to happen overnight.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin your journey:
1. How do you see yourself?
When you were a kid in school, were you the smart one, the dumb one, the jock, the artist, the popular one, the outcast… How has that image been reinforced over the years? What kinds of jobs or businesses did you go after or skip? Did you wait for things to happen to you or did you go out and make things happen? Why?
If you “assumed your place in society” based on where you were born or who your birth family was, what have your assumptions about yourself been? Is your True Self, your heart, happy with those assumptions and decisions?
Do you change your image of yourself to please others, regardless of whether it’s the “real” you? If so, why? Has it served you well?
2. Who do you spend time with?
The people you surround yourself with tend to reinforce your self-image. If you’re trying to make changes in your life while your friends and family want to reinforce the status quo, it may be time to find some new friends.
If you want to change how you see yourself, an easier path is to find people already doing what you want to do. They’re evidence that what you want to do is possible while your current friends and family are telling you that it’s impossible.
3. What is the basis of my decisions? What are my values?
It’s almost impossible to make lasting change in your life without getting clear on your core values. What do you stand for? What’s most important to you? Who are you?
Your core values are what you consciously or subconsciously base all your decisions on.
Getting clear on your core values gives you more confidence to make decisions that are right for you. It allows you to care less about what other people think about you.
Your core values are your rock. They don’t change much throughout your life.
The answers to these three questions are your starting point. They’re good to revisit along your path. You can track your progress if you write down your answers periodically and revisit them to see how far you’ve come. Seeing your progress will help your self-confidence.
Your progress probably won’t be linear. I tend to get stuck for a while then have a breakthrough or epiphany and launch forward, only to stall for a while as I absorb how I’ve changed.
Use mindfulness to gently catch yourself doing what the “old you” does and change to what the “new you” does. No judgment. No beating yourself up because you’re not perfect (self-confident people aren’t perfect).
Just notice and make a different choice.
Although I’ve felt that I’ve had a fair amount of self-confidence most of my life, there have certainly been situations that have tested me. One was when I was looking for a job and felt that networking was the only way I was going to find one (I wrote about it HERE).
Using the three questions, here were my initial answers:
- How did I see myself? A deep introvert. NOT someone who does any kind of networking. Yikes!
- Who did I spend time with? My husband and children. I was an introvert so I didn’t value having lots of friends.
- What was the basis of my decisions? Prior experience told me that I didn’t have to network because I had found other jobs online. What were my core values? Health, family, integrity, freedom.
My monkey mind screeched like crazy at the thought of attending networking events or meetings. This was new and different with unknown outcomes (the monkey hates stuff like that).
My logical mind said that times have changed (this was 2008) and I had to get my butt out there and do whatever it takes to find a job. I saw a lack of income as not supporting my values of health (lots of stress), family (not supporting my family) and freedom (hard to feel free when you can’t pay the bills).
With barely a shred of self-confidence and lots of fear, I got out there and started attending events and meeting people. I acted like a self-confident person even though I was totally nervous and sweating.
It took about three or four months of this before I started to feel more confident. I kept at it and began to truly enjoy meeting and connecting with new people.
I’m still an introvert but one who loves to meet and get to know new people.
I changed how I see myself. I changed who I spent time with. And my self-confidence grew and spread to other areas of my life.
I’m not special in this regard. Everyone has the capacity for change. You simply have to make the decision to want it, have a strong reason why, then act on it.
Yes, it takes a bit of self-confidence to accept where you are and trust that you can make the changes your True Self knows to be right for you.
You have it in you. I know you do.
In the comments below, share your experiences with building your self-confidence so that others can find the courage they need. The community here at Simple Mindfulness is part of the people you surround yourself with. Everyone here is amazing.
If you want to do some intensive work on building your own self-confidence, I highly recommend Barrie Davenport’s Simple Self-Confidence Course.
If you’re lacking self-confidence, I’m sure you know how it holds you back from achieving your goals and living to your fullest potential.
Fortunately, like any other skill, self-confidence can be learned. And the first step is understanding where and how you might be lacking in confidence.
Barrie offers a great free tool to help you understand where you stand on the self-confidence scale. It’s a free Self-Confidence Test and three informative videos that will give you your personal self-confidence score.
Click the banner below to take the test and learn your score.
I just found my new favorite mindfulness app: Chill. It's just what I need in the middle of a hectic day to remind me that all is well in this moment and to simply breathe. You can set it to give you up to five reminders a day to be mindful like:
"Take a moment to think of someone you love. Feel that love inside you. Sit silently with that feeling for a moment."
"Feel the silence inside you. Feel how expansive that silence is. You're as vast as the sky."
"You are right here, right now. Don't let your thoughts tell you otherwise. Breathe in this moment."
Chill also provides beautiful daily quotes from Buddha, Lao Tzu and other Zen masters on a backdrop of a peaceful image. With a touch of a button you can also share these quotes via text, email and all the social sites. The app's curator is a Buddhist ordained in the tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The quotes are based in Buddhist ideas of mindfulness but come from many traditions. They speak about the challenges we all face, and how to mindfully center ourselves in the midst of modern life.
It's free or $1.99 if you want to get rid of the little ads at the bottom. It works on iOS and Apple Watch. You can find out more or download the app HERE.
What if the only thing between you and the answers you're looking for is the right question? The kind of question that can instantly cut through years of confusion, is worth a thousand words of advice, connects you to the wisdom of your heart and unlocks the truth inside you.
What is the right question? You can find yours somewhere in your deck of Inquiry Cards.
Each Inquiry Card - each question - is an opening to insight, intuition, intention, integrity, inspiration, inner compass, introspection, instinct, inner vision, involvement, integration, innate intelligence, intimacy and infinite possibilities.
It all begins with Inquiry. Because the answers are inside you.
I am loving my deck of Inquiry Cards! I've been using them for the past couple months. They come with a beautiful wooden stand where you can place the card/question that you're focusing on. Simply seeing the card on the stand on my desk reminds me to pause, take a deep breath and spend a moment asking my True Self the question and being open to whatever answers arise.
Have you been trying to start or maintain a meditation practice but life keeps getting in the way? I'm there with you - and I found a solution: Daily Meditation Videos delivered to your inbox every morning. They've been gently nudging me each day to take just a few minutes in the middle of my day to stop and breathe. The creator has done the hard part of culling great guided meditation videos from YouTube and delivering them to you in a simple, beautifully designed email. All you have to do is click, listen, relax and breathe.
The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.