When I tell people I hiked on my own for six months in the mountains of New Zealand they usually reply with something like, ‘That’s brave’ or ‘Weren’t you scared?’ Sure I had fears but I had been making a conscious effort to increase my confidence as well. After all, I did not want to be overcome with fear when stuck in the mountains on my own!
Confidence is not a static state. It waxes and wanes and is something we can have complete control over. It’s dependant upon our thoughts, our experiences, our preparation and our goals.
Here are five practical things you can do to increase confidence in any area of your life where you are lacking confidence.
1. Recognise false beliefs and question your inner critic.
Your self talk is likely to be your greatest blockage to achieving confidence. It’s normal for false thoughts such as this one to enter your mind, ‘You can’t do that’.
Why can’t you do that? Is there any evidence from your past suggesting you can’t do that? Being aware of your inner critic will help you recognise negative self talk. Once you can recognise the false beliefs taking root in your mind you have the ability to weed them out with the truth.
2. Make a list of everything you have ever accomplished. Use this as evidence for what you can achieve in the future.
A way you can dispel negative beliefs and thoughts is to look at your history. Search for evidence and situations where you have achieved your goals. Often we look to the future and become overwhelmed thinking we can’t do something. Looking to the past can remind us of our skills, talents, achievements and give us confidence to take necessary risks. A task I like to set clients is to write down fifty things they have achieved or completed successfully. Anything from birth to now. When writing this list think about the fears and anxieties you had leading up to that particular task and how you overcame that to achieve success.
3. Set small achievable goals and build from there
Achieving goals builds confidence. The mistake people make is thinking their goal needs to be BIG. This isn’t the case. Setting yourself a small and manageable goal, that you know you can achieve by applying yourself is a great start to building confidence. It builds trust in yourself and the ability to set larger and larger goals.
When I first considered walking the length of the south island of New Zealand, I started off by setting myself the goal of walking five nights a week. Once I was doing that I started to set goals of longer and longer walks until I was hiking for seven days solo without seeing another soul. Six months hiking in New Zealand, was the accumulation of small goals gradually turning into bigger goals. It’s through the achievement of BIG goals that true inner confidence soars. Looking back on something amazing that you have accomplished gives you confidence to set your mind to bigger and bigger tasks. Goal achievement builds self confidence and creates momentum. So start off small, and keep growing.
4. Define your own goals
Confidence is not something that can be gained from our external environment, it’s completely internal. No amount of praise or recognition from others will give us that deep, quiet inner-confidence. Sure the praise of others feels great but like a sugar high its effects are brief and the crash is inevitable. To determine long lasting inner confidence it’s important to identify your own values and goals. Only by achieving your own dreams will you find that sense of inner satisfaction and deeper self worth.
5. Don’t let people treat you badly
A lack of confidence is often a downward spiral, and one that can be hard to pull yourself out of. Unfortunately other people pick up on this and use it to their advantage. You are more likely to get bossed around at work if people know you wan't stand up for yourself. And so a strategy to rebuilding your confidence can be to put healthy boundaries in with those who have been taking advantage of you. I’m not saying to be rude about it but asserting yourself, holding yourself tall and speaking confidently to your boss when saying you can’t stay back late tonight will establish your self worth to yourself and to those around you.
And finally give yourself credit! When you achieve a goal celebrate! When you exercise your boundaries and practice some self care practice some positive self talk.
Because you are amazing and capable, even if you don’t believe it right now.