The more self-confident you are, the more happy and successful you can be. However, confidence is not something you can simply turn on and off, especially not at the moment. When you are putting yourself out of your comfort zone, your self-doubts may start to increase, which can make you feel overwhelmed and consequently hinder your performance.
Hence, what does that mean for all of us who don’t feel self-confident most of the time? Is happiness and success reserved for only a few privileged individuals?
If you want to become more self-confident and happy, you greatly increase your odds of success if you go with your strengths, instead of (merely) improving your weaknesses. With regular practice of identifying and focusing on your strengths, you can actually change your mindset to become more positive, which will consequently significantly increase your self-confidence. Your personal power.
That critical voice in your head.
»I don’t have enough knowledge.« »My experiences are not that special.« »What I am good at, every else can do it.« »I will not get that job.« » I’m not smart enough.«
Telling you how you’ll screw up or showing you the worst-case-scenario. Sometimes the voice is loud and obvious but sometimes just silently guides your mood, behavior, and your results.
This negative inner-dialogue can flare up especially when you are learning something new or trying to step out of your comfort zone, or when something was taken away from you, such as losing a job, or an opportunity to work on a project you hoped to work or a client canceled a contract with you. At those times, these setbacks might lead you to start to doubt yourself.
Giving in to these negative voices can have a serious impact on your self-confidence. Your personal traits, skills, knowledge, strengths lose their power in your eyes.
Those voices are like a well-hidden enemy within us that influences our mood and actions, interferes with the pursuit of our personal and career goals, and has an overall negative impact on our lives.
Self-confidence is a trait that permeates our thoughts, feelings, and performance. And shrunk self-confidence encourages you to avoid doing the exact things that would help you build up your self-confidence.
Knowing how to build your confidence is a significant advantage in life
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
According to Ford, your belief in yourself is a determining factor for your success.
When self-confidence is present, you are not afraid to ask for what you want and what matters to you. You are able to take a risk and try new things. It gives you resilience, power, motivation, and assertiveness. Self-confidence is essential for a happy and successful life.
But what does that mean for those of us who aren’t always feeling the most confident?
Because simply trying to be more confident doesn’t work, especially at the moment. Confidence is not something you can just turn off and on.
Is then success and happiness, something that is reserved for only the fearless few?
Knowing that you have the ability to succeed is fundamental for self-confidence
When it comes to improving our lives, we are more inclined to try to improve where we’re weak since we’re assuming that mastering these areas will provide the greatest growth and, consequently, higher self-confidence. Especially when facing the unknown and uncertainty, our default thinking is to focus on our weaknesses – what we’re bad at, what we still don’t know, why we are likely to fail.
Scientists and researchers have shown that people often fell short on recognizing their own achievements or their own strengths. Even when we are good enough and strong enough to succeed, the brain is overwhelmed by natural negativity.
Various studies have contrary shown that when we focus on our strengths and intentionally developing them, we grow faster than when (merely) trying to improve our weaknesses. Researchers found that people who practiced their strengths in this way were happier and less depressed six months later.
Master your mind more capably
Focusing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses can be a powerful way to help maintain confidence in times of adversity and setbacks. Consequently, this will have a positive effect on your career and life success as:
You’ll build self-esteem and competence.
You’ll become more resilient.
You’ll feel more involved and engaged in your work and life.
As you learn to use your strengths more effectively, you’ll also be better able to account for your weaknesses and manage them.
You’ll learn how to set goals and expectations that matters.
You’ll be more able to take risks and make changes.
You’ll improve your interpersonal skills in order to look for assistance and support when needed.
Your relationships will evolve and become more meaningful.
You’ll experience lower levels of stress, anxiety, and/or frustration.
If you play to your strengths, you’ll have a stronger awareness of who you are and what you are capable of. It will give you a hefty boost to your self-trust and, subsequently, your self-confidence.
Hence, what is important is identifying where those opportunities exist.
Start by cultivating your self-awareness
Self-awareness means the habit of paying attention to the way you feel, think, and behave.
Those who are self-aware tend to act consciously and proactively rather than passively. They have a feeling of being in control of their lives, can make better decisions and are not afraid of risky choices, have a higher level of psychological stability, and in general, have a more positive outlook on life.
Too often, we operate automatically; we are not even aware of what is guiding our mood and actions. However, enhancing our understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and monitoring our thoughts and emotions, we can work towards becoming more self-aware.
The development of self-awareness does not happen overnight. It might not be an easy or short process, but to get started, you have to take the first step. Think of what is the cost if you don’t do anything about it?
Embrace your vulnerability
Being the most confident person in the room is not about never showing your weakness.
When our weaknesses are exposed, most of us get defensive, which can lead to different types of procrastination or into overusing some of our strengths to hide our weaknesses.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” Brené Brown.
Dr. Brene Brown points out, without embracing vulnerability and uncertainty, we can’t truly have any of those things we want. Being vulnerable will lead to more emotions, but you don’t want to stay in a place where you’re numbing yourself and ignoring what really exists as a part of who you are.
Own your weaknesses as this helps you control the outcome. When you admit your weaknesses, you reduce their power, because when you own them, no one can use them against you. Dare to be vulnerable, dare to show what’s really going on.
Remember, weakness is only weak when those faults stop you from taking action.
Think about your thinking
Negative thoughts are so often a drain on our self-confidence, and we may not even realize it.
The danger is because we are not even aware of where our negative emotions and feelings come from most of the time. And if you just allow them to keep coming up and you don’t pay attention to them, you can become overwhelmed, feel anxious, sad, frustrated, powerless.
You can’t deal effectively with your negative feelings and emotions by just denying them and trying to tough it out.
Rather than trying to ignore them, practice “listening” to your own thoughts; pay attention to the way you talk to yourself and track the automatic thoughts that pop into your head. Soon you will realize how sneaky can negative thoughts be.
Therefore, understanding and the consciousness of what’s going on in our mind and body is the first step.
The more you notice what you’ve been thinking about, the more you can interrupt what you’ve been thinking about.
Take control of your attention. »Where are your thoughts taking you?« Are they supportive of your advancement, or are they automatically coming up negative in a »self-protective way« that is not advancing your life?
When you notice a negative thought, grab onto it and either write it down or just sit and think about it for a moment. See what it’s trying to do. Most often, your inner critic is trying to protect you from potential threat – being rejected, from failure, from not being appreciated.
Then redirect your thoughts. Continue by cultivating the ability to be self-directed to choose what you want to focus on.
Decide not to dwell on them and bring compassion to yourself. Ask yourself, how can you speak to yourself in a way that is more empowering and supportive? You might need to force your mind to find the replacement for your negative thoughts.
Even though at the beginning your brain will not believe in your »forced« positive thoughts, it will help you not to dwell into your negative thoughts, which are significantly detrimental for your self-confidence and your power to go for what you would like to be, do, and have.
Once you track what’s your mind on right now and you redirect it in a positive direction, you build your personal power. It’s not that someday you will wake up in a world where negative thoughts don’t exist anymore, but with your personal power, you will be able to work for you and not against you.
Think about what is right about you – acknowledge your talents and strengths
Confidence comes when we have proof of success that can shut down our self-doubt.
Focus on what you did and achieved, not on what you did not do, and did not achieve.
Especially while being overwhelmed by negative emotions, you might think,» Do I have any strengths that matter? I don’t know what I am good at. Other people are more capable than I am.” These are typical responses when you are asked to name or identify what is good about you.
We all have many small and big accomplishments in our personal and work-related life, but have you ever really questioned yourself what lies behind these success stories? Was it only good luck, your effort, or maybe some inner power inside you?
Because we’re usually so invested in improving our weaknesses, we too often ignore signs of our strengths.
Few individuals know or understand who they really are, how unique they are, or how to engage this uniqueness in everyday work and life.
Research has shown over and over that we’re happiest when we’re doing things we’re good at and enjoying ourselves while doing them. When we put energy into it, we usually get a positive result. And that brings satisfaction, feelings of competence, and being good enough. It is easy to miss all these aspects, especially when it comes to our innate talents and strengths (and not just learned skills), which unfortunately stay overlooked, or we take them for granted.
But when you begin to tap into this power intentionally, you gain the ability to transform your world – every moment, every interaction, and every day. They give you clues to:
Why do you do what you do?
Why do you like certain things?
Why are you better at some things than others?
Our innate talents are an instinctive and intuitive source of wisdom and power. This is not just something you are good at; they are everything you do, all your (mind) habits and patterns that energize, engage, drive, and motivate you to do even more.
Think back in your life about a handful of times that you felt the most comfortable, fulfilled, or energized. When you were doing something that was engrossing to you. That made you excited. Don’t limit your thinking to only work-related activities and circumstances; expand your contemplation to all areas of your life. These are the times when you were using your talents and strengths. These moments are moments when your best version comes alive. These are your »peak moments. «
Contemplate your »peak moments« as they are clues to your talents and strengths.
Make a list of all activities at work you most enjoy doing. When are you happiest in your work? Is it when you are mentoring others? When are you analyzing some data? When are you organizing a project? When are you brainstorming ideas with your colleagues?
What comes easily to you? What tasks take little effort on your part? What have you done well, and you didn’t need to be explained?
To what kind of tasks or activities in your work or personal life are you naturally drawn to?
What kind of activities do you want to do more because they energize you? What do you find you can’t stop doing?
What kinds of tasks, activities, or skills are stimulating and engaging for you and get lost in doing (in the flow)?
What are the areas where others have said: “I wish I could do that as easy and as well as you?”
What do people typically ask you for help in, at work, in free time?
What were you known for doing well in the past (your childhood, school, previous work, in your free time)?
What kind of compliments do you usually get from people around you (co-workers, managers, friends, family members)?
What tasks or activities, after you had finished them, gave you a sense of true satisfaction?
Think of times when you successfully navigated through difficult times. What enabled you to be successful?
Now, go again through your answers and try to see if there are some patterns and connections related to your talents and strengths.
Was it your detail orientation, or you intuitively sensed how different people could work together, or you instinctively took control of a situation and made a decision, or you easily recognized and cultivated the potential in others, or you knew how effectively prioritize and based on this appropriately acted, or you always came up with something new as you thought outside the box, or you knew when was the right time to take a risk, or you easily put others at ease, or you quickly gained trust in others, etc.?
Now think about what mindset did you adopt at those times?
The more consciously you think about your talents, the more you will notice how your talents contribute to your satisfaction and success. And the more you notice this connection, the more aware you will be of your full potential for even more satisfaction and success.
Once you acknowledge and understand them, you become able to talk about them comfortably and bring them to life – and not in that generic “everybody-can-do-it” kind of way. Consequently, your productivity, performance, and self-confidence evolve. Even your daily obstacles transform into challenges as you are able to approach them from a different corner.
While it is not necessary to always be taking inventory, it is important that you do so every now and again. Knowing your unique powers will remind you how you make things happen. Every time you start to doubt yourself, review these lists and think about how these talents and strengths will help you succeed. And then, as you take action and start building a stack of achievements, you’ll see your confidence soar.
Set your goals
Now that you’ve identified your talents and strengths, you should have more belief in yourself and know what areas you are most interested in exploring.
You should replace the adverse scenario in your mind with a scenario about your success. Acknowledge and then see yourself in your mind, what you want to be, what you want to do, and what you want to have. Visualize the life you really want.
Confidence comes from doing. To feel more confident, we need to take action that takes us out of our comfort zone – and that might mean getting uncomfortable.
Try something you’ve always wanted to do, ask for a raise, apply for the job you want, talk with your boss about the project you have always wanted to work on, take your business to the next level, get involved in something that interests you.
The more you get yourself out of your comfort zone, the more you convince yourself what you are capable of. Self-doubt supported by your negative inner voices starts to demolish, and confidence starts to build.
Remember, no one is great at everything.
“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” Tom Rath
You don’t need to become well-rounded before you let yourself feel confident.
If you want to do great things with your life, you greatly increase your odds of success if you go with your strengths, instead of (merely) improving your weaknesses.
With regular practice, you can control your mindset and change your brain from being in a negative state, most of the time, to be in a positive state, most of the time.
Positive thoughts and a positive attitude will take you a long way in your career and life. A positive mental atmosphere will help you feel confident, relaxed, and safe when faced with any challenge. You’ll make better decisions, react appropriately, and persist through setbacks.