Living With Confidence Can Energize You
But how do you gain that confidence in all areas?
In my previous post I mentioned seven areas that my survey participants said they lacked confidence in.
1. In Social Situations
2. Speaking in front of an audience
3. Handling new stuff – particularly new technology
4. Speaking with their work colleagues, bosses
5. Applying for jobs
6. Change – taking on a new business or major life change
7. Positioning themselves as ‘experts’ in their areas of expertise
Fears Around Confidence
In my survey people said they feared:
- looking a fool,
- not being intelligent enough,
- asking dumb questions,
- not knowing how to do something, or where to start,
- being judged for the way I am
- speaking about myself
- the future.
Not Being Good Enough
All of these things equate to fear of rejection – of not being good enough to live up to your own or others’ expectations.
Rejection of ourselves is the worst fear – if we constantly judge and criticize ourselves there is no way we can be confident with other people.
Our fear often comes from past experience.
In my case it stemmed from my father, who frequently cut my communication – nothing I said seemed to be good enough or worthy of his attention. He would interrupt, put me down or get angry. This would cause me to cry, which he couldn’t handle, so I would retreat and ‘sulk’. For years I was too quiet and shy to cope well either in social situations or in front of groups. My older sister always seemed to be cleverer, better or brighter than me.
Even now, if I hear someone being praised highly, I have to stop myself from taking it personally – translating it to mean I am not as worthy.
A Situation in the Present that De-energizes You
You may be in a situation right now that is reducing your self esteem – at home, at work or amongst your peers.
Who do you spend most of your time with?
Who do you choose as your friends? Are they supportive and encouraging, or do they put you down – perhaps in jest, pretending it is just fun?
One of the worst things we can do to children as they grow up is to constantly tease them – make fun of them and expect them to laugh. It may be funny to the person dishing out the teasing, but not to the recipient, and constant teasing can easily destroy self-esteem.
I often watch the TV series ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ because of the interplay of personalities, and the way the various characters use put-downs or underhanded remarks to manipulate and get their way. I am fascinated to see how Deborah survives in this dysfunctional family without losing her confidence or self-esteem. It is a very clever script.
The Intent Behind the Words
If you observe people, you can pick up the intent behind the words, and this can help you to immunize yourself against the barbs. I had to learn how to do this.
You may be in a seriously toxic relationship that is making it impossible to express your true self.
A lovely friend has written a book about the years she spent in a loveless relationship and how it drained her energy and reduced her abilities in many ways. After 29 years of marriage she chose to leave this situation and has since been able to blossom and shine her light in ways she would never have believed possible. Her book is called ‘Choosing To Cross The Line’ and her website jocelynleckie.com.au.
If you are currently living with, or closely associated with, someone who constantly undermines your confidence then you may have to look at parting your ways.
If Your Lack of Confidence Comes From Past Experiences
There are strategies to use if you want to move on from your previous shyness, lack of confidence or inability to express yourself.
Giving the Appearance of Confidence
I don’t want to say ‘Fake it till you make it’ because I believe ‘acting as if’ is not the same as faking it.
If you observe what confident people do and how they present themselves, and you emulate them, acting as if you were already confident, people will invariably begin to treat your differently, which in turn will help to increase your confidence.
Becoming a ‘New Person’
When I went to Teacher Training College I had to board, as my home was in the country. I moved into a YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) Hostel where many other teacher trainees were staying. I decided to start afresh as a new person, and even changed my name to Joanne.
My room was in the centre of a long corridor, so most of the new residents had to pass it on their way to their rooms. I stood in the doorway and introduced myself as Joanne to anyone walking past who looked like a student. Before long I had several new friends.
I repeated this on the first day of Teacher’s College amongst my co -students, and so built up another circle of friends.
Before long I had about 16 girlfriends. Some of us went to the local church and met some young men, and they joined our group.
Because I had pretended to be outgoing and confident, I was treated this way.
I was invited to spend holidays with my new friends in the country, and we went to parties, camps and other interesting things. My three years at College were a wonderful social time where my confidence continued to expand.
Did I Change Overnight?
No. I still suffered insecurities, but I had wonderful friends to support me and help me through the difficult times. I was able to leave behind the comments and criticisms of the past, to pretend and practice confidence in many different situations.
It was only when I went back home and was again under my father’s influence that I would slip back into the old ways.
Strategies To Gain More Confidence
Based on my experience back then, and how it has worked for me many times since, I recommend two things to begin overcoming your confidence issues:
1. Change your environment, your friends, your peers – the people you spend most of your time with, if they are undermining your confidence.
2. Act as if you already have confidence in the area you lack it. Observe other confident people and what they do and say, and imagine what that would be like if you did it. Then practice stepping out of your comfort zone. Make the first move.
Baby steps are good at first. Don’t take on something too big. For instance, I didn’t decide to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know as my first step. I approached people one at a time. (It took me a lot longer to be able to go into that room full of people. More about that later.)
The important thing to remember is, if you get rebuffed it is probably not your stuff. Other people have their own reasons for not wanting to be approached. If you get knocked back just move onto the next as soon as possible. ‘Get back into the saddle’ so to speak.
However, if you put a smile on your face and approach in a friendly manner it is very likely the other person will respond the same way.
I would love to hear of your experiences approaching and talking with people you don’t know and how it energizes you. Please click on the link below that says ‘Leave a Comment’ and let me know.
Live with Energy
Visit: http://www.theenergybook.com/ to find out about my book, ‘The Energy Book For Life – The Guidebook To Energized Living’