5 Confidence Boosters

049Based on my research, there are certain conditions that positively enhance and encourage confidence. Confidence is not a fixed state:  it is influenced by a wide range of factors including the environment and contacts we have around us.

Make sure you create the environment and relationships around you that support your confidence.  Here are 5 confidence boosters.

1. Being listened to.  Being listened to (and heard!) is one of the gifts we can offer each other as human beings.  Perhaps being listened too begins by developing ourselves as good listeners, and developing relationships where that gift of listening can be shared and is mutual.  In a coaching setting, sometimes the coach is the first person who has truly listened without any agenda to the client: listening to hear rather than listen to speak. Find ways of offering and receiving listening of that quality.

2. Feeling supported.  Life is a mix of joy and sorrow – that is just how it is!  Having a network of support around gives us the confidence to face the tough times, and stretch ourselves.  In the year 2000 I worked on and still have a personal mission statement that covers the important areas of my life.  One of the statements is that I will nurture and encourage my children to lead independent lives making sure they know they will always have a place of support when they need it.  Feeling supported helps us to confidently face the tough times in life.  Ensure that within your relationships you have people who act as ‘radiators’ in times of challenge and not only ‘drains’.

3. Feeling more in control.  During the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow one of the athletes talked about the need to control what you can control and not fret about what you can’t.  Feeling more in control begins with focussing on what you can control – ie focus on the right things!

4. Having a sense of hopefulness. Hope in its best form is a sure and certain belief, not some kind of wishy washy blindness to reality. It is intrinsically linked with optimism and self belief.  If you are someone who is always looking at the clouds and expecting rain, go read some great books on the importance of positivity for well-being, or find someone who can support you to take a more positive view of life.  Having a sense of hopefulness is a key building block of confidence.

5. Receiving feedback.  Don’t default to wondering and speculating about what people are thinking about you or your performance, ask for feedback.  Ken Blanchard says that “Feeback is the breakfast of champions” and there is wisdom in this.  Feedback allows you to understand how other people experience you.  Treat less positive feedback purely as information which you can use as you choose, and gain confidence from positive feedback which affirms your self confidence.

The picture for this Blog is a poppy doing what it does best:  blooming confidently. Work on your confidence and be the best you can be too.

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Is your confidence drooping?

Drooping Poppy

Drooping Poppy

If you were to take a reading of your confidence right now – what word would describe it? I love poppies and we are loving the wild garden that has been planted directly across from our house.  However, this particular poppy reminded me of what happens when confidence is eroded, so I decided to write this post about the six factors that can erode confidence.  These confidence stealers were identified in my research a few years ago.  Are you experiencing any of them?

1. Other people’s negativity.  We all know how draining it can be to spend time with people who are either negative about themselves, the world, everyone they talk about, and You!  It’s easy to ‘catch’ some of this negativity for ourselves.  So keep a watching brief on the people you spend time with.  Challenge the negativity, and if it feels contagious take a step back if you can.

2. Excessive challenge. Challenge and stress are a necessary part of life and some of us thrive on challenge.  However, even for those who love nothing more than a complex and demanding challenge, our bodies are not designed to live under the umbrella of excessive challenge.  In a book published some years ago called Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers, Robert Sapoisky spells out in clear terms what happens in our bodies when we are under excessive unrelenting challenge.  It is not a happy picture.

3. An unrealistic workload.  Sometimes our unrealistic workload and expectations of ourselves are set by ourselves and sometimes set by others.  Either way, an unrealistic and unrelenting workload will result in us feeling that we are never achieving enough, never at the end of what we have to do, and generally feeling we are not succeeding.  And what reward does our confidence (and our bodies) get for completing a task… another one!

4. Lack of control.  I have yet to find the person who is completely comfortable when they and everything around them is out of control.  Feeling out of control is just that – a feeling.  Feeling in control gives us a great sense of confidence, feeling completely out of control is a scary place.  Of course, we need a dose of realism about what we can actually control, but the more we have a sense of control over our main life choices the more confident we are likely to be.

5. Feeling negative about yourself and assuming other people feel the same.  This one is for all those people out there who can be pretty tough on themselves, feeling they are ‘never’ good enough, clever enough, smart enough, talented enough, never could do a great job or be the star.  This is an unhelpful trend and really saps at any sense of confidence – it is compounded greatly when we put everyone else in our own negative viewpoint.  We have no idea what they are thinking unless we ask.  We leads to the next confidence stealer.

6. Lack of feedback.  There is good evidence to suggest that if we are not getting feedback we default to feeling that any feedback given would be critical.  There is no evidence for this of course. Perhaps you can test this by asking for some feedback from someone you trust to be honest and helpful.

Check out your own confidence level, and have a good look to see if any of the six factors are impacting on you right now.  Self awareness is the beginning of taking steps to revitalise your confidence and stop the droop.  What areas do you need to think about, challenge or change in order to give your confidence a better chance of blooming?

These are six of the stealers identified in my experience.  Are there any others you’d like to share?  In next week’s Blog, I’ll write about the factors which increase confidence.  Look out for that next Friday.