“To succeed in life, you need two things, ignorance and confidence,” said Mark Twain. Indeed, when it comes to the latter, confidence -- believing you can rely on something, whether it’s yourself or a material possession, such as your home -- can provide a sense of security and comfort.
Living with a sense of uncertainty, on the other hand, can lead to stress and anxiety. So how do you build your confidence in multiple aspects of your life so you can breathe easy? It’s all about doing a little bit of legwork and asking the right questions.
Ask Yourself, “What’s The Worst Case Scenario?”
When you’re in a stressful situation that triggers many emotions and in which you don’t feel so confident (such as meeting your future in-laws), ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen, suggests Shirin Khamisa, founder of Careers By Design in Toronto. “If you can come to terms with what the worst possible thing that can happen is -- which is usually not the end of the world -- then you can come to terms with it and you won’t feel as stressed.”
Get Out Of Your Own Head
Before facing the situation you’re feeling unsure about, get out of your own head, says Khamisa. Go for a walk outside or practice some deep breathing. When you stop contemplating and obsessing over every detail, getting out of your head allows you to relax and speak from the heart, the career coach says.
Identify Your Confidence Gaps
Taking a careful look at where your lack of confidence stems from is the key to formulating a plan to address it. “Often, your fears may not be rooted in reality,” says Khamisa, noting she once had a client who’d held onto her insecurity from being an inexperienced entry-level employee, even though she’s risen through the ranks and was more than capable in her current upper management position. You can discover where your fears stem from in many different ways. Consider asking colleagues for feedback, says Khamisa, or working with a career coach, as they can give you an outsider’s perspective.
Play Up Your Strengths
Focus on your strengths and they’ll take the lead when it comes to your confidence, says psychologist Andrew Shaul. “Perhaps you’re a good storyteller and you’re funny. Play up those characteristics and you’ll feel good -- rather than focusing on how to overcome your negative attributes,” says Shaul. This will put you in a better place emotionally, as you’ll be less anxious and less sensitive about what you’re not good at, he adds.
Accept Your Limitations
“Rather than punishing yourself for the things you are not, accept that there are things you’re not good at rather than hiding them, and it’ll allow your strengths to come through,” says Shaul, who works in private practice in Toronto. If you focus on limitations, you could overcompensate for what you’re lacking and it’ll shake your confidence.
But acknowledging that you have areas that need work doesn’t mean admitting defeat. When you accept your limitations, you can work on improving them, says Shaul, who uses the example of a tennis player with a bad backhand swing to illustrate. “If you don’t accept your bad backhand, and you tell yourself ‘I don’t want the ball going anywhere near my backhand,’ how can you work on it if you don’t even want to face it?” he says. Avoiding or denying your weak spot might make you feel better in the short run, but in the long-term, your backhand problem remains. But understanding that it’s a weak spot and working on it will help improve both your swing and your self-esteem.
Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Being well-prepared and well versed in whatever situation you’re faced with is a sure-fire way to quell insecurity. This holds true whether it’s a job interview you want to nail or you’re getting quotes for a home renovation. There are few situations as nerve-wracking as a job interview, but doing some thorough research on a potential employer (including the company and the interviewer if you know who it will be) can set your mind at ease by arming you with information to answer the tough questions. As well, researching the types of questions asked in interviews can help you prepare your responses. Employers are impressed with candidates who know their stuff. And candidates who know their stuff are often confident candidates.
Similarly, doing some research into the home project you want to tackle will help you ask your contractors informed questions and will let them know you’re not a client they can mess around with. Your knowledge skews the balance of power in your favour. And in turn, you’ll enjoy safe and secure home renovations you can be confident in for the long run.
Knowing yourself is the first key to boosting your confidence, so don’t be afraid to take a magnifying glass to yourself and really get to know your strengths as well as your limits – everyone has both and there is a wealth of resources out there that can help you build on your best bits and improve the parts you’d like to change. So get started! An utterly stellar and radiantly confident version of yourself awaits.
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