Do you ever find yourself feeling really confident in some situations, and nervous and uncertain in others? This happens for one of two reasons:
The first reason is that our confidence is directly related to our ability to predict the outcome of a situation. In circumstances where we know what to expect, and we have had prior or similar experiences, we are naturally more confident. It’s like driving through a well-known part of town versus being in an unfamiliar city, full of road construction. On the well-traveled route, you can drive with confidence and not worry about losing your way. However, in new territory, you might find yourself anxious, hesitant, and unsure – questioning every turn especially if you lose the signal to your GPS.
In situations that are unknown, like the first day on a new job, we have to figure out how to belong to the group, learn everyone’s name, learn how to get around, and how to perform the tasks of our job. It takes time to “get our bearings”.
Familiarity breeds confidence. In new situations, or situations where you cannot predict the outcome, here are a few tips to help you feel more confident:
The second reason we feel our confidence fluctuate is related to specific situations in which we find ourselves. This is referred to as situational confidence.
Listed below are the most common types of situations where confidence – or lack of it – shows up. As you read the list, assess your confidence in each area. Prepare for the next time you find yourself in these situations and make attempts to raise your level of confidence.
By now you probably have a better sense of what causes your confidence to go up and down like a roller coaster. You can be on the top one minute, and feel your confidence sink the next.
To stay more even-keeled, think of confidence like a bank account. You want to make regular deposits into your confidence bank, so you can stay positive when people and situations make withdrawals on your confidence.
The key to having a more sustained level of confidence is to make more deposits. Here are a few ways you can make deposits into your confidence account:
One of the take-aways from this experiment is this: When you project a positive presence, most people respond to you in a positive way. That in turn gives your confidence a boost. When you have a bland or negative presence, most people ignore you – and that in turn diminishes your confidence.
Confidence can be developed. Sure – it seems that some people were born with a leg up in life. We all know people who started life in supportive and nurturing families that provided opportunities for them to get ahead. But many, many successful people have had to pull themselves up by their boot straps and go it alone. They took responsibility for their lives and you can too.
Watch for next week’s newsletter as it is part 3 of this series on Confident You.
Part 1 of Part 5
Do you remember the last time you felt on top of the world? You felt invincible – ready to take on whatever life would throw your way. Perhaps it was the perfect spring day, sun shining, breeze softly blowing, and flowers bursting into bloom. Your mood matched the moment. You felt capable, positive, and alive!
Or maybe you just landed a new client, got a call from a “certain someone” or received praise for a job well done. Just thinking about those moments can cause a lift in your spirits, bring a smile to your face, and a bounce to your step.
That’s mojo! You know what it is. You’ve heard the phrases, “He’s got his mojo back.” “My mojo’s working!” “Watch out, she’s got mojo!”
And we know exactly what the feeling and words are all about. But just in case you don’t, according to the urban dictionary, mojo is a slang term used to describe self-confidence or a belief in one’s self in a situation. Mojo is also the belief in your ability to bounce back after life throws you a curve ball – and we all know that life will throw us an occasional curve ball.
This week’s BLOG is Part one of a four-part series and is designed to help you get more mojo in your life – or recapture it if yours has gone missing. We will take a look at confidence; what it is and what it isn’t. We will explore the difference between natural confidence and situational confidence, and how to gauge your confidence level and improve it. And finally, we will talk about how to make deposits in your confidence bank account.
Confidence – What Is It Really?
In 1966 a new television series aired and was an instant success. Marlo Thomas starred as Anne Marie in the weekly sitcom, That Girl. The show was historically significant because it was the first time in television that a young, single, career woman played the lead character on a television program. But, the most important thing about the show is that Anne Marie was portrayed as a confident, independent, single woman. Most females on television up to that point were dependent on a husband, boyfriend, or friends to carry the story and were secondary characters. Not That Girl. Sure, Anne Marie did have a great haircut, was physically appealing, and, of course, was a fictional television character. But what she represented was something that spoke to the hearts of a new generation. That Girl was confident. She defined her life instead of letting life define her. She liked herself and was true to herself. And she had her share of foibles, failures, and flukes. But when it was all said and done, she smiled at the world, and with flair her persona shouted, “I’m going to make it! I can count on myself. I am okay!” She had mojo! She had confidence!
Confidence is about letting go of the need to be what others want you to be and becoming who you are destined to be. Confidence is about being comfortable in our own skin. We are confident when who we are on the outside is congruent with who we are on the inside. It’s about experiencing self-worth – knowing that we are valued and valuable. Confidence is the belief that whatever comes our way, we can handle. It is like an aura that surrounds us, making us aware of what we can do and giving us faith in our ability to try.
Our inner most desire is to be accepted for who we are – to be okay. But for many of us, somewhere along the way we went from being a celebrated infant and toddler to being told what to do and who to be. Here’s a story that says it all:
Zeke was a typical 6-year-old boy — full of life, laughter, and mischief. As adults are prone to do, someone asked him one day, “Zeke, what do you want to be when you grow up.” He looked up excitedly and replied, “Zeke!”
Now fast forward several years. Someone asks him again, “Zeke, what do you want to be when you grow up.” His reply, “I guess I’ll be Zeke, that’s what people call me, anyway.”
As you take time to think about this story, you can see the profound implications. As children we lose bits and pieces of who we are, thinking that we must become the person that others want us to be.
Then we grow into the tumultuous teenage years, trying to differentiate ourselves from our parents by becoming carbon copies of our peers. And self-esteem is determined by how much we “fit in.”
We eventually outgrow that phase (hopefully) and as young adults begin to realize and appreciate our uniqueness. Yet, we continue to struggle with meeting a certain standard and measuring up to a specific image. If we are not aware, life becomes a contest of comparing and competing. We look around a room to see if we are the smartest, the healthiest, the most popular, the wealthiest, or the best dressed. The old adage, “The one with the most toys, wins!” can easily make life more about having and less about being. Self-worth is the recognition that who we are defines us – not what we have.
Stay tuned for next week to learn why your confidence goes up and down.
Every day, people buy too much stuff, eat too much food, and waste away their hours chasing after happiness…to no avail. They may find excitement or satiation, but TRUE HAPPINESS still eludes them.
Fortunately, happiness is really inexpensive and pretty simple to find, but that doesn’t mean that it comes easily. However, if you’re bold, and truly willing to commit to a few simple steps, happiness will be yours. Try this:
Becoming happy may mean “looking silly” sometimes or changing A LOT of your current habits, but I promise you…it sure beats the alternative.
What can YOU do to create more happiness in your life TODAY?
No matter what happens in your life, where you go, or whom you encounter, the common denominator is always YOU.
It may seem that the outside world has a big influence on your happiness, but the fact is that there are blissful people living in abject poverty, and miserable wrecks living in penthouse apartments with all the material comforts the world can offer.
This goes to show that happiness is truly an inside job.
If you are struggling to find happiness in your life, here are three simple tips to help you shift your perspective and move toward happiness at a moment’s notice.
There’s enough misery in the world. Do your part to tip the scales toward love, acceptance and true contentment, and you’ll be happy no matter where you are.
What will YOU do to generate happiness for yourself today?
Emotional Intelligence is one of the most fruitful traits you can cultivate in today’s world. Thanks to the internet and the resulting global market, we have more connections than ever before, most of them digital. However, one thing we still can’t get from our all-powerful devices is human connection.
And in a world dominated by technology, a never-ending to-do list, and the convenient separation that results from abundant individual wealth, it seems that human connection is the very thing we long for and seek out above all else.
We all want to see and be seen, to be heard and understood. We long to feel our feelings and know that someone gets us. And to connect with others on a more meaningful level. This is the essence of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
While some people certainly seem to be gifted in empathy and connection, EQ is absolutely a learnable skill. You don’t have to be born into a family of therapists to know how to read someone’s emotions and respond appropriately.
But ‘family’ does help. The number one best thing you can do to start cultivating your own ‘family’ of support is to surround yourself with emotionally intelligent people. As the old saying goes, if you’re hanging out with 4 awesome people, you’re likely to be the 5th.
Look around your communities, pick out the good listeners, and start developing relationships with them. Find the people who don’t redirect conversations when they get uncomfortable, but rather lean in and ask questions. Pursue those who are on their own quest toward personal excellence. Engage with those who are attuned to their bodies…dancers, yogis, massage therapists. And while you’re at it, you might even want to hire a good coach or therapist – emotional intelligence is their job, after all!
As you build your emotional dream team, remember to cultivate your own listening/feeling abilities so that you can more easily connect with them. Practice active listening…it’s a defining trait of people with high EQ’s. Strive towards becoming your best you. And above all, be easy with yourself in the process. You’re learning something new, and that takes patience and compassion.
Who Comes to Mind When You Think about Building
Your Emotional Dream Team?
Mary thinks she’d be happy if she could just change her weight, her looks and her job. Sean believes that he’s an okay person except for certain personality traits, such as anxiety, impatience and his quick temper. Yolanda’s shelves are bulging with self-improvement books; she’s read them all, and she still hates herself.
Who among us doesn’t believe that with a little tweaking, we could be just right—self-realized, self-actualized and self-helped to “just” short of perfection? But, the problem for many is that all the books, self-improvement tips and positive affirmations don’t seem to make us any happier. Worst of all, the minute we “fix” one ugly piece of ourselves, another nasty monster rears its head and starts screaming for attention.
When does self-help become self-hell? What would happen if we started realizing how wonderful we are already?
As the pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers once wrote, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” writes Tara Brach, in her book, Radical Acceptance. “The more we anxiously tell ourselves stories about how we might fail or what is wrong with us or with others, the more we deepen the grooves—the neural pathways—that generate feelings of deficiency.” She lists common ways people try to manage this pain of inadequacy:
Accepting yourself does not mean self-indulgence or being passive. Rather it means turning off the shameful, negative, self-loathing tapes within you and just relax.
The blaring voices of our culture certainly don’t help, with promises that buying something, owning something, achieving something will make us better people, that success is measured by looks, wealth or possessions. A healthier life finds deeper meaning and greater satisfaction in self-love, compassion, intuition, taking responsibility and forgiveness (particularly of oneself).
Sometimes it is our so-called faults that can actually lead us to a healthier life. Pioneering psychologist Carl Jung called it our “shadow side,” that part in all of us we are ashamed of and that we often reject. Understanding and accepting that shadow side can lead to enormous freedom and self-acceptance.
Science and research has revealed much about what we can and cannot change about ourselves, according to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., author and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Some of what does change is under your control, and some is not,” he writes in his book, What You Can Change and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Self-Improvement.
Seligman lists some characteristics that are easier to change, such as everyday anxiety, specific phobias, panic, anger and certain beliefs about life. He advises people to discard the notion of changing that which hurts the most (for example, your extra weight) and instead concentrating on those parts of yourself that will respond most successfully to your efforts to change them (for example, your shyness or impatience with your spouse).
In the end, all the energy we put out to change ourselves may just take us back to where we started—to ourselves. And if we can truly accept ourselves as we are, that’s the best place to be.
Five Ways to Love Yourself
1. Stop criticizing yourself. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Praise yourself and support yourself. Have compassion for yourself.
3. Love your negatives. Acknowledge that they fulfilled a need and now you don’t need them anymore.
4. Take care of yourself. Take care of your body in ways that please you.
5. Do it now. Don’t wait until you get well, or get sick, or lose the weight or get the new job or the new relationship. Begin now. And do the best you can.
—from Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Yellow Brick Road Coaching, LLC used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500?
For one person it might be quitting a secure, well-paying job to go back to school. For another, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 20 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.
Though it may not appear so at first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical derring-do. Yet, these are the challenges we are asked to face time and again if we are to continue to grow as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.
Growth-producing risks generally fall into three categories.
These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take singing lessons, or learn to speak French. On one side of the risk is the person you are and, on the other, the person you want to become.
All commitment risks have emotional stakes whether you pledge yourself to a person or a relationship or to a cause, a career, or a value. According to Joseph Ilardo, author of Risk-Taking for Personal Growth, if you avoid making emotional commitments, you all but guarantee that your emotional growth will be stunted.
Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you’re taking the chance of self-disclosure. When you open up to others and reveal who you really are, how you feel and what you want and need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be assertive without doing so.
All risks carry with them the possibility of failure. Often significant sacrifices must be made before any real benefits are realized. Routines may have to change; the familiar may have to be released. You may be rejected or humiliated. In the case of commitment to a value, personal safety may be in danger. Consider those who stand up for what they believe in or put their own health and well-being on the line in the name of a cause. Challenging yourself is often the key to personal growth and development.
Are you a risk-taker? Ask yourself the following questions:
Consider this: to fulfill your potential, to discover your real self and live an authentic life, you must take risks. And while security may appear to be the absence of change, the only genuine security lies in taking risks.
Authentic. It’s a word we hear a lot – yet, it’s a concept that many of us struggle to exemplify.
To state it plainly: authenticity means being true to yourself. And, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
We’ve all had moments of inauthenticity. Maybe you had to compromise a personal belief in order to keep your job because it’s easier to nod our heads in agreement, so we feel as though we fit in.
Being authentic means being vulnerable. It means loving yourself, regardless of whether someone likes what you’re wearing or what you have to say…or you. Being authentic means believing you are worthy of love, kindness, and acceptance, just as you are.
Like a magnet, authenticity attracts. Authentic people have a way of making others feel relaxed, happy and safe. Here are five tools to help you be your most authentic self, even under the most stressful circumstances:
Remember, at the heart of authenticity, is the courage to be you.
How are you being authentic with yourself?
When faced with difficult situations do you rise to the challenge or raise the white flag of surrender? Are you more like the famed engine from the classic children’s story, The Little Engine That Could, telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can! I think I can!!”? Or do you find yourself stuck at the station, doubting your abilities to face life’s challenges?
According to the American Psychological Association, self-efficacy is “the confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.” Self-efficacy plays a big role in our self-image and belief that we can accomplish our life’s goals. It’s the fuel in our engine to make us believe that we can do it, and take the steps to get there.
People with high self-efficacy tend to be highly motivated because they’re focused on positive outcomes, are passionate about their activities, and easily rebound from setbacks. It’s a necessary characteristic for success.
How do you build self-efficacy within? Psychologist Albert Bandura identified 4 key sources of self-efficacy to help you keep your momentum going when facing life’s challenges.
The next time you find yourself doubting your abilities remember the Little Engine That Could, add some high-octane fuel to your tank, and tell yourself, “I KNOW I can, I KNOW I can!”
Terri O'Donnell is a certified Life Coach. She is an honest, straight shooter who is dedicated to using her training and experience to help people live the life they desire.