Three Things We Were Never Taught about Confidence

Navigating an increasingly uncertain world requires deep-rooted belief in yourself and your capabilities.

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels
Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you”

James Allen

The more we try to make our lives Instagram-friendly, be acknowledged at work or keep up with our neighbours, the more we allow ourselves to be governed by a need for constant validation. In the ever-changing, digitally-enabled world we live in—characterised by fewer interpersonal connections, lower commitment levels, greater disruption and unpredictability, and the influence of social media—we are at a constant crossroads between feeding into the world we live in and feeling good about where we are at.

To navigate this uncertainty, then, we need to cultivate an inherent belief in ourselves and our capabilities.

While most educational or professional development programmes focus on building key technical capabilities, we are rarely trained to build confidence in ourselves and others. In a 2018 Deloitte survey, 36% of millennial and 29% of GenZ workers identified confidence as one of the key skills they needed to build to be relevant in the 4.0 world. In my work as a leadership and performance coach, I see more requests for programmes focused on building confidence and self-esteem and on channelising the mindsets of individuals and teams to believe in themselves in an evolving world.

Can confidence be learnt?

While most people are raised to believe that confidence is inherent, behavioural science proves otherwise. Confidence is a skill that can be developed in every individual. The study of neuroplasticity indicates that the brain has the ability to change continuously throughout an individual’s life. To bring about this level of change, no doubt, requires work and dedication on the part of the individual.

The very premise of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is that thoughts form the very core of what governs our emotions and resulting actions or behaviour. In most of us, our limiting thoughts cast doubt on our own abilities, qualities and judgment.

Apart from psychology and behavioural science, Vedanta, yoga psychology, mindfulness and meditation have long before suggested the power of our thoughts and mind.

The idea that we can change our lives if we change our thoughts is great news for anyone caught in the web of low self-confidence and high self-doubt. The choice, then, becomes ours to make: do we stay where we are, or elevate ourselves and our lives to where we need to be?

For those of us actively looking to make that shift, I have listed 3 things that we can do to build our own confidence in any situation:

1. Develop Self-Awareness: Understanding ourselves and our strengths is extremely important to build self-confidence. Being authentic in our lives and relationships is equally essential. Once we develop awareness, we are already better-positioned to manage change, pressure, feelings of being overwhelmed, or feedback. Remember, if we can’t manage ourselves, we can’t manage anything!

2. Indulge in productive thoughts: Since our thoughts are at the centre of our emotions and actions, if we find ourselves indulging in negative or unproductive thoughts, it is important to just flip it. Take a few moments to understand an alternative perspective—maybe there is another way of looking at things? As we get a deeper understanding of ourselves, it is equally essential that we identify and manage specific limiting thoughts and beliefs. These inner voices are usually at the forefront of casting self-doubt.

3. Cut yourself some slack: It is very important to understand that nobody feels confident all the time. And nobody is born with an unlimited supply of self-confidence. It is a managed behaviour that is developed over the course of our lives. If we feel a little low on confidence, it is perfectly fine to indulge those thoughts for ten minutes, but after that, put on your confidence cap and remember exactly who you are. It is equally relevant that amidst our daily grind we acknowledge and appreciate all that we have to offer. Confidence starts with valuing and loving ourselves before anything else.

The most important part of being confident is acknowledging that we are all imperfect and that is what enhances our individuality.

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