Confidence. It is that elusive thing that we all want more of. It is the one thing that we know holds the key to success & happiness and yet we seem to have trouble finding and keeping hold of it. Choosing to proactively build your self confidence is probably one of the most important things you can do in a lifetime. I hope that this article acts as a catalyst for you to begin to feel the most contented you have ever felt in your own skin. Use this self-assuredness to create the things that you want in your business and in your life.
The definition of confidence is a ‘person’s belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities’. In comparison self esteem is a ‘person’s overall evaluation of their worth’, and so by definition the two differ slightly. However I would like to propose that we look at these as one entity, after all you cannot have a good level of self confidence without a good level of self esteem and vice versa. These notions are intrinsically linked and I think it is far better to merge the two when focusing on feeling good about yourself and refer to the more all-encompassing term of:
Self Concept – the whole set of attitudes, opinions, and cognitions that a person has of herself/himself.
How do you build a good Self Concept?
It’s down to having two fundamentals:
- Will – The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.
- Action – The state or process of acting or doing.
I will explore some of the ways you can set about building your Self Concept. I’d like you to keep Will & Action in your mind. These are your friends when it comes to building your confidence because Being is Believing, so find a way of keeping momentum going with both. The trick is to make what you set out to do so appealing that you just have to have it! For instance, imagine how your life would be if you had more confidence? How would your business be different? What would you do?
The Wheel of Confidence
Learning to feel good about and believe in yourself is a skill of forming new behaviours that empower you, such as learning how to deal with negative thoughts. Confident people experience negative thoughts too but they have learnt how to overcome the negative voice that occasionally resides in their head and not let this get in their way. By mustering up the Will to take Action (regardless of the negative thoughts or fears that they may have), they equip themselves with the capability of being able to enter the next situation that takes them outside of their comfort zone. This sets the Wheel of Confidence in motion:
Feel Good Do Good Things Feel Great Do Great Things
Before long an individual’s boundaries of what they believe they are capable of are expanded. Simultaneously their self confidence and self esteem grow side by side, feeding off of one another and so creating a Super Self Concept.
Confidence & Arrogance; like Chalk & Cheese
I think it’s important to highlight that Confidence is not to be confused with Arrogance. The definition of Arrogance is ‘having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance’. Therefore individuals who display arrogant behaviour have a negative impact on themselves and others. Confident people on the other hand have a positive impact on themselves and others (they feel good about themselves and so do/say good things onto others) and are a joy to be around. Hence aspiring to be more confident is a positive thing because it means choosing to be a good person to yourself and to those around you.
6 Ways of Building a Super Self Concept:
1. Choose to feel good -
Feeling good is a choice and one which we can all make. We can choose how we want to feel about anything that happens to us and in so doing we can choose to feel good about ourselves rather than feel bad. So the next time you find yourself beating ‘You’ up in your mind and feel your mood dip as a result, recognise what is happening and choose how you want to feel in that moment; that afternoon; that day. A question that is effective here is: “Is this Helping or Hindering me?” If you decide that actually you’ll have a much better time, meeting or presentation if you feel good then press pause on the mental abuse you’re dishing out to yourself and shift your focus to something that makes you feel good about you.
The ability to choose to feel good and adopt a positive outlook over the temptation of falling back into the habit of feeling bad takes practice. However once you master it you’ll be able to swing your mood from negative back to positive in any situation.
2. Launch Project Me -
As I said at the beginning of the article choosing to feel good about ourselves is like embarking on a project because it takes evaluation, planning and action. I ask clients to give this project a name which inspires them and symbolises them being the best and making the most of who they are. Create your own project and give it a name which could be your own name, Project Donna, or something that pushes your buttons like Project Carpe Diem!
Your project has 2 important aims:
1) To ensure you do enough of the things that make you feel good
2) To increase your belief in yourself by gently encouraging you to step outside of your comfort zone and get around to doing the things that you have always wanted to do but low confidence has got in the way of.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to focus on and why, set yourself goals that relate to your aims and make a relevant plan of action. These form mini projects under your ‘Project Me’ umbrella and you can go about accomplishing these things one manageable step at a time, allowing for your confidence to grow organically along the way.
3. Develop Your Own Mantra -
When we feel unconfident in situations we can feel overcome with emotion which can cloud our judgement and make us act in self destructive ways. Here the Wheel of Un-Confidence is set in motion: Feel Bad – Do Bad – Feel Worse – Do Less.
Developing a personal mantra which sums up 1) Who you are/want to be and 2) What mark you want to make on others/situations, will help you stay focused on the ideal outcome that you want to create and how you would like to conduct yourself.
This will prevent you from behaving in unhelpful ways (driven by fear) such as being defensive, saying something you come to regret or avoiding a situation all together. Then once you get a better outcome in a situation that has up until then caused you anxiety, your confidence and Self Concept will begin to improve, cue your Wheel of Confidence…
4. Challenge your old ‘chum’ NeV -
A.K.A the negative voice in your head. Low confidence is synonymous with experiencing a high volume of negative thoughts. Confident people experience these same cruel, unfounded thoughts too, they just choose not to let some rebellious fear driven brain message dictate their worth or what they do or don’t do. When you next experience negative thoughts, no longer just accept what they say as gospel but write them down on a piece of paper and examine them. Ask yourself, “Is this really true? What tells me that this is nonsense? Why am I thinking this? What does it tell me about what I’m afraid of? How can I better deal with this fear?”
5. Do the things that make you feel good -
Would you drive your car without fuel in the tank? Would you go all day without eating a single thing? Buy a beautiful plant and then choose not to water it and just watch it wilt on the mantel piece? I didn’t think so. Doing the things that make us feel good raise our self esteem and are as important to our wellbeing as honey is to a bee. Do you do enough of the activities that make you feel good? If you don’t, then making sure you factor these things into your day/week and on a regular basis will improve your Self Concept instantly.
6. Like & respect yourself more -
You’re a person worthy of care & respect just like your dearest friend. Are you doing things that show dislike or disrespect to yourself? How are these things affecting you? For instance, you may have a habit of talking yourself down in front of others, “I’m just stupid like that..” which even though you may not always notice yourself doing will be having a negative impact on the view you have of yourself. Make a promise to be pleasant, respectful and supportive towards yourself and see how this makes you feel.
When you are holding a damaging Self Concept, the warning signs usually include an increase in negative thoughts, feeling unsociable and not having the inclination to do things (particularly things that may involve challenging yourself in some way). Think of these actions as alarm bells sounding that it’s time to take action by re-investing in yourself. Investment really is the significant word with building a favourable Self Concept because how you view yourself determines what you do and what you don’t do in your personal & professional life. Spending time and energy on getting to know and like yourself will mean you quite literally reap what you sow. So do you want to live in a barren field with withering crops and hard, sad looking soil? Or in one that is luscious, full of life and possibility? It’s up to you and how much work you’re willing to put in.