Confidence is the most powerful tool we have for generating resilience, improving relationships, reducing anxiety and building motivation. Most of us know that confidence is built on the foundation of our accomplishments. But how do we accomplish those things, if we lack confidence in the first place?
This is the Catch-22 at the heart of imposter syndrome, and one many of us struggle with daily. It blocks us from being willing to set big goals, never mind achieve them. At the root of a great deal of low confidence is the belief we must never risk failure, and must avoid discomfort at all costs. Here are some simple, and counter-intuitive approaches to build your confidence from the ground up—fast!
1. Learn Something New – ANYTHING!
Take the pressure off. Learn how to say hello in a new language, or try a new puzzle. Your brain is capable of change and growth at all stages of life. According to Piedmont.org, the brain’s prefrontal cortex thickens when learning new skills, demonstrating a physiological change that correlates with higher IQ and better memory.
As we learn, we build confidence in different areas of life and shut down fear and anxiety. In continuing to learn new skills, you can actually expand your comfort zone instead of just stepping out of it temporarily. Once you see a little progress in one area you are more likely to make some headway in another.
2. Get Out of Your Own Way
Confident people are willing to try things they have never tried before, and practice them until they see improvement. In other words, they don’t try to be perfect or know everything. One thing they do have a foundational confidence in is their ability to learn—and will seek out guidance and support.
Second, confident people don’t hide their abilities out of fear someone might believe they are self-promoting. They recognize their ability to help others, and reach out on that basis.
3. Helping Others
Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and alter your mindset. As you begin to shift the focus from yourself to others you will likely find that it feels good to be of service and out of your own world.
Volunteering, tutoring, and mentoring are all ways that you can step out of your comfort zone and gain confidence at the same time.
According to Livingwell.org, giving and cooperating with others stimulates reward areas in the brain. Those who participate in voluntary service generally have higher self-esteem and better physical and mental health.
Being present can be a huge confidence booster. People spend too much time dwelling on things they cannot change and making mountains out of molehills. Untangle yourself from the constant stream of unhelpful thoughts.
There are many valuable apps available to try meditation if you need more structure or guidance. Mindfulness results in improved mood and reduced anxiety among other benefits. You can use specific meditations or mantras to boost confidence and motivation to move toward your specific goals.
5. Shift Negative Thinking
A majority of us, regardless of how high-achieving we may be, spend an inordinate amount of time on negative thoughts about ourselves and others. Many estimates place the number of negative thoughts (those which are judgmental, critical, guilty, ashamed, fearful or anxious – and hence, stressful) as high as 95%. While it is certainly important to acknowledge our emotions, and speak up for what we need, dwelling in the negative limits our ability to thrive.
Unfortunately there are those who believe catching, and then shifting a negative thought into a positive one is gaslighting our true feelings. However, when we look for the gift in unsatisfying or upsetting situations, we create new neural pathways and a path forward for ourselves that requires noticeably less energy than nursing our negative thoughts and feelings. It also builds confidence in ourselves to master our thoughts and actions, one moment at a time.
Finding the gift in unsatisfying or upsetting situations... requires noticeably less energy than nursing our negative thoughts and feelings.
The Essential Positivity of Confidence
Making positive changes in your life can bring up some resistance, especially if you struggle with any imposter syndrome issues, or are overly sensitive to criticism or differing perspectives. Rather than resorting to fight or flight when this happens, lean in. Become curious. You can do something uncomfortable—something you really don’t want to do—in order to grow. That’s the principle behind sports training, school homework, and yes—coaching too. Confidence and getting out of your comfort zone are things that work hand in hand and depend on the amount of effort you put in.
The more you accomplish, the more confident you will feel and the more your comfort zone will expand. If you are ready to build your confidence or your team's confidence, book a complimentary 45-minute strategy session now.