Top 3 Tips to Building Confidence

confidence life coaching Mar 24, 2018

The definition of confidence is:

“1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing:

We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.

2. belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

His lack of confidence defeated him.”

Note how the definition of confidence includes the danger of not having it: defeat in the face of challenge.

To be able to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams” as  Henry David Thoreau said, you need to have a clear idea of what makes you strong and the strength of mind to overcome internal and external obstacles that undermine confidence: your own fears and  insecurities and external criticism and challenges. 

Step One: Own Your Strength

When you can see and embrace your innate talents, and the skills you’ve learned - through life experience as well as what you’ve learned in the classroom - you naturally feel more secure about who you are and what you are able to do.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Starting with just recognising what you do best.

You often have to ask someone else to get a clear, objective picture of your strengths. And then listen to and accept the answer. Ask yourself: what compliments do you regularly dismiss? Is it because the strength they’re complimenting doesn’t require much effort?

Maybe you think it’s nothing special - that anyone could do it. That’s a pattern I’ve seen among women - especially mothers who undervalue skills others tend to take for granted, like being able to anticipate others’ needs or organise and plan behind the scenes.

Instead, we are far more likely to see what we lack - our weaknesses - than we are our strengths.

And yet everyone has weaknesses. You allow others to have them, don’t you? So why not yourself? Trying to be perfect is the perfect way to fail, I always say.

Instead, truly “own” the strengths you have. That’s the first critical key to building confidence.

Step two: Honor your values

We know when we don’t honor our values, because we feel it. I call it a “value violation.”

If you feel the need to contribute to society, for example, and yet you have a job that seems to be taking advantage of it, that’s a value violation. How many employees wake up one day and realise what they do or where they work doesn’t match their values?

I know how that feels. When I was in the tv news business and found fewer opportunities to do issue-oriented news stories, or fight to be able to do stories that focused on solutions, I felt out of alignment with who I am. I felt another value violation when my news schedule kept me away from my children.

An interesting thing about values: while they don’t often change, they do shift in order of priority, and sometimes you need to choose which value takes top priority at a particular time in your life.

Be aware that once you identify a value violation, it may take time and you may run into resistance if you try to change your circumstances to honor your values. But it’s still worth doing it.

The price of not honoring your values will cost you over the long term, undermining your sense of self and the solid platform on which you build your confidence.

Step three: Take control of your thoughts

Have you ever felt your confidence crumble? Like your legs have become as wobbly as a jelly?

It can happen when someone reveals a weakness in you, or when you lose sight of your strengths and fall into fearful or negative thought patterns and behaviours. Instant sabotage.

The cure? Taking cognitive control - stay in charge of your thoughts.

Researchers have now discovered our brains are not “fixed” when we become adults, instead, they continue to be changeable as we age.

We can continue to grow and actually change the connections in our brain, building new “muscle memory” to create new and improved thought patterns. You can use this neuroplasticity to step out of self-sabotaging behaviour.

This new information leads us right back to ancient wisdom.

How do you take cognitive control? Go back to centuries-old practices like positive visualization: creating mini-movies in your mind showing how you successfully overcome an obstacle and reach your goal. The trick is not to just visualize the end result, but every step of the journey - just like top athletes do before important competitions.

Or you can take control by quieting the chorus of voices inside your head. We all hear them. Choose the healthiest (sometimes it’s the quietest) voice and promote that one to “coach”. Then, bench the loud and obnoxious team members who shout at you, insult you, or question your capabilities etc. Recruit more cheerleaders instead. They’re the ones who say, “Why not try?”

You can also take control by mastering the art of deliberate calm. That can be as simple as stopping to take a few deep breaths as soon as a challenge kicks you into fight, flight or freeze mode. Lowering the level of cortisol in your systems and getting oxygen to your brain and interrupting the escalation of stress allows you to think more clearly about the real issue you’re facing.


These steps all boil down to three key actions: re-assess, recalibrate and refocus.

Re-assess what you do best, recalibrate to make sure you are acting in line with your values and refocus your thoughts away from the negative and build on the positive.

All easier said than done, but step by Baby Step, you will “go confidently in the direction of your dreams” when you are able to build your confidence.


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