My 7 Easy Tricks for Self-Confidence
a feeling of trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgement.
Confidence fascinates me and I think about it increasingly often these days. I think people who are naturally confident are the luckiest people in the world, because when you have self-belief, you can have whatever you want. Self-confidence underpins so many other vital attributes and skills that equip you to lead an amazing life because you aren't afraid to go after your dreams, and when you do reach those goals, your achievements aren't tainted by a fear of being found out as not really having a clue what you're doing. That, to me, would be true success and liberation.
I read books and blogs and articles about this elusive trait all the time, I suppose in the hope that I can decipher some sort of formula for cultivating it for myself. This is particularly important to me now that I'm running my own business, and the difference between me making it and failing miserably hinges on my ability to believe in myself as a photographer and a woman.
As much as I'm of the opinion that we humans are lucky in that we can train ourselves to do anything that we set our minds to, I fear that when it comes to self-confidence, if you don't innately have it in you, it's a lot easier said than done to just get more of it! One of the most frustrating things about having low self-esteem is that it's very hard to believe other people when they tell you that you're good at what you do, or that you have no reason to doubt yourself. It's easy for those encouraging voices of reason and positivity to be drowned out by our own internal struggle - often the loudest voices in my head are raising questions about my skill as an artist, my ability to achieve my goals, whether or not I'm a good friend, daughter, sister, the list goes on. And the sad thing is that I know for a fact that so many other women go through this exact same experience every single day.
I am really fortunate to have met lots of amazing women recently who are also embarking on an entrepreneurial journey and it's the most fulfilling thing to be able to share my hopes and fears with them, and be a listening ear for everything they're going through too. As I mentioned in my very first post, I value solidarity with other women extremely highly and I hope to make this the focus of my blog as time goes on.* Anyway, no matter where our conservations begin, whether it's website hosting or pricing structures or any other aspect of our businesses that we're working on that day, we always seem to somehow end up talking about self-doubt and impostor syndrome. We all go through moments of thinking we're under-qualified, under-experienced, sometimes totally incapable of doing what we're doing, despite the fact that we're already doing it.
Lacking confidence and feeling like a fraud is not only really annoying and disheartening, but it also holds us back from getting on with the work we need to do, and slows us down on the path to success. Personally, I'm fed up with it! So what can we do to help ourselves?
1. Make A List Of Your Wins (Big Or Small)
As cringeworthy as this sounds, a great way to get out of a confidence rut and get back to feeling positive about your goals is to think about everything that you've already achieved. Note down a few things that you've done recently that you're proud of, including feedback from clients or nice things that your friends and family have said about you. It's not vain or selfish to do this, it's necessary for bringing your focus back to your strengths, which will give you the energy to keep working!
2. Remind Yourself Why You Started
No matter what it is you're working on, if low self-esteem is holding you back, spend some time thinking about why you decided to do it in the first place. If you're anything like me, you have something inside you that's just willing you to be creative and to use that creativity to help people. If you let your fears get in the way of that, not only will it slowly eat you up inside (because creativity doesn't react well to being ignored!) but you won't be serving all of the people that need your help. Don't keep your talents hidden from the world, people do and always will need what you can offer, just remember that and then go and find them!
3. Get Out Of Your Own Head
Feeling rubbish about yourself is such a dangerous vicious cycle, and in my experience the worst thing I can do is to sit there and stew in my own self-pity! You have to break out of the negative mindset by abandoning what you're doing and distracting yourself – this could be by going for a quick walk in the fresh air, listening to some really loud music, watching a few funny videos, making your favourite food or reading a book that you can get totally lost in. Whatever is it that floats your boat, give yourself permission to take a break and let your whirring brain rest!
4. Form A Girl Gang
There's strength in numbers, so don't even try to tackle the crazy journey of starting out as a female entrepreneur alone! Ask for help and ask often. Go online and find groups (virtual and physical) of other women in the same boat as you. Talk to them, meet up with them, swap stories and cheer each other on! I love the saying that a rising tide lifts all boats (even if that does make three boat metaphors in the space of two paragraphs), so let's lift each other up!
5. Remember That Everybody Starts Somewhere
When you're having a crisis of confidence, it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everybody else in your industry is light years ahead of you and that you'll never be as successful or confident as they are. This is totally false! Everybody was a beginner one day and everybody progresses at their own pace. It's also so important to take social media posts in particular with a pinch of salt, because people only share what they want you to see, so of course they'll always seem super accomplished and in control from the outside; it might not be the case behind closed doors. So give yourself a break!
6. Surround Yourself With Positivity
This can and should include positive people (after all, you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with), but even before you seek out your tribe of cheerleaders, you can start this one with nothing but a pen and paper. Write down or print out some uplifting and empowering messages or quotes and stick them up around your house – on your mirror where you get ready in the morning is a great one as you can't miss it! I've now also set my phone background to a few words of encouragement so that I am constantly reminded that I'm on the right track.
7. Fake It 'til You Become It
I absolutely love this advice from Amy Cuddy. She studies body language and power, if you haven't seen her brilliant TED Talk, definitely check it out! Part of her research is into how the way we carry ourselves affects not only the way we're perceived, but how well we perform in stressful situations such as interviews or high pressure tests. As it turns out, if you stand like a confident, powerful person (even for just two minutes before doing something that scares you), you will experience a physiological change that actually makes you more confident and powerful! What have we got to lose?
These tips may seem obvious but I know that I forget them myself sometimes, and they can be really effective so please try them if you haven't already! Here's to all of us in this metaphorical boat becoming more confident, one inspirational quote image at a time!
*Watch this space for interviews with women who are doing wonderful creative work that I can't wait for you to hear about!