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The surprising truth about self-confidence

And how to regain yours in 10 steps

The more I talk to my friends and clients, the more I realize a sad truth.

That most of us often lack self-confidence.

Yet, if you ask people if they lack self-confidence, especially strong, accomplished people, they’ll probably answer no. Not because they’re in denial about it. But because they can’t see it.

You don’t often see that you’ve lost your self-confidence, as this loss manifests as something else. You see that you’re overwhelmed, that you’re stuck, that you’re a bit lost. You don’t realise that these are just symptoms. And that the problem behind them is a loss of self-confidence.

Lack of self-confidence is at the root of all feelings of being overwhelmed and stuck.

If you are full of self-confidence, you know what you can and can’t handle. You do what you can yourself, and hand off the rest to someone else. There’s no loss of face, you’re just being efficient.

If, however, you lack self-confidence, what you can’t handle overshadows everything, and it’s this that causes overwhelm. When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t see a way forward, so you get stuck. Being stuck for any length of time affects how you view yourself. You start to feel that you’re good for nothing, and this makes you feel even more overwhelmed, even more stuck.

When you reach this place, your self-esteem takes a beating. People often use self-confidence and self-esteem interchangeably, but, for me, there’s an important distinction between the two.

Self-confidence is your outer layer of self-reliance. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is your internal sense of worth.

When you can’t keep up your external self-confidence, external things can start to fall apart – you miss deadlines, you let people down, you limit your activities. But, when you don’t feel your internal worth any more, when you have no self-esteem, YOU start to fall apart.

Self-confidence is the cornerstone of self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to deal with the self-confidence crisis whenever it strikes.

What can you do?

Here are 10 steps to help you start regaining your self-confidence.

  1. The minute you feel overwhelmed, stop. Don’t make any important decisions. Don’t take on any more change. (I wrote this post about overwhelm.)
  2. Dig deep into your feelings of overwhelm. When did they start? What triggered them?
  3. Dig deep into what triggered them. Was your behaviour behind it? Was someone else’s reaction to you behind it?
  4. Accept what happened (the trigger). This doesn’t mean you have to be happy about what happened. You just have to accept that it did actually happen. And then you have to acknowledge any feelings that you may have about it, and allow yourself to express them, when you are somewhere safe and secure. That may involve punching pillows, if one of your feelings is anger. Or crying until you have no more tears, if one of your feelings is grief or sadness. Fully expressed feelings dissipate. Unexpressed feelings get stronger and stronger, until one day, they erupt uncontrollably.
  5. Let the trigger incident go. Like acceptance, letting go is an important behaviour to understand and adopt. And, like acceptance, it’s a hard behaviour to understand and adopt! Letting go of something or someone doesn’t mean that you are OK with the situation or person. It just means that you are letting go of the control ALL of this has over you. It’s not an angry notion. I like to think of letting go as releasing something/someone into a flow of love, and respectfully keeping your distance. Practice really does make perfect, and it’s well worth the effort.
  6. Know exactly what you have to get done. Make a detailed list of everything that was causing you to feel overwhelmed. This is your TO DO list.
  7. Prioritise what you have to do. Review all items on your TO DO list, and prioritize them according to their importance. I like to have three categories: Must Do, Maybe Do and Nice To Do.
  8. Do your Must Dos every day. You should start to notice you feel better about yourself after successfully ticking off these for a few days.
  9. Add your Maybe Dos to your weekly routine. Do this whenever you’re feeling in a good place, with some energy to spare.
  10. Add your Nice To Dos to your monthly routine. By the time you have the energy to get to these, your self-confidence and self-esteem will be much healthier.

The sense of self-reliance that goes with self-confidence is essential to our ability to function, day in, day out. The sense of self-worth that goes with self-esteem is essential to our happiness.

Let’s make nurturing these in ourselves our top priority! Because without them, we are no good to ourselves or others.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).