It doesn’t take 10 years of stretch assignments or even 10 years of therapy to become rock solid confident.
In fact, most of the time the very approaches we take to build confidence are the ones that keep you at your current level of confidence. When it comes to confidence, shortcuts are the way to go!
In 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School, I learned that many of us involve other people in an effort to create a desired experience of confidence inside ourselves. You act toward other people, in order to get other people to act toward you, so that you can feel confident in yourself. Your time, energy and attention will go toward managing other people’s perceptions.
There are 3 common patterns you might do at work (or with people at home)
1. Seeking Approval:
When you don’t feel fully confident within yourself, you aim to get other people to think well of you so you can see yourself through their eyes. You put your time, energy, and attention into getting other people to think well of you – in the hope that others will approve, validate, reassure, or compliment you. In this way, you borrow their confidence. You might find yourself saying yes when it would be better to say no, saying what others want to hear, over preparing, micro-managing, asking other people for reassurance, fishing for compliments, talking a lot to show how smart you are, etc.
2. Preventing Disapproval:
To the extent you have doubt or self-criticism, it’s important to you that no one know about your perceived weakness. So you act to prevent others from disapproving or criticizing you
You might hold back, not speak up, not ask, avoid conflict, etc.
3. Judging Yourself (and others):
You might criticize yourself to monitor how you think others will see you. So you might focus on your flaws, only see ‘the gap’, re-do things over again. You’ll get stuck in beating yourself up and think you are ‘never enough’ (and neither are others). If things aren’t perfect, you think you have failed. Though your criticism of what ‘did wrong’ is intended to help you do it better next time, your self-criticism is not constructive – it keeps you feeling defeated.
In the moments when you have self-criticism or doubt, you do one of these behaviors to try to feel more confident. You try to boost your confidence with approval, prevent others’ criticisms, or judge yourself with the hope of improvement. These behaviors attempt to monitor how other people will see you and control how they will act toward you.
Growing up, we are taught to come to know ourselves through the eyes of others, so these are normal behaviors. If these behaviors help you get a compliment and prevent disapproval, what’s the problem? They have worked to get you here but won’t be the confidence you need to get you the life you want.
These behaviors give you a ‘quick fix’ – you get a momentary compliment, you avoid self-criticism, etc. but the effect is fleeting. It’s like a sugar high, you’ll come ‘down’ again soon and need to re-earn others approval, or prevent criticism in the next meeting as well. These behaviors are the long, slow way to confidence because you have to keep doing them over and over.
These behaviors are mental and exhausting. You are always second-guessing what others will think of you and you don’t build your own opinions. You compare yourself. You loop of self-criticism. That’s why your head can feel so noisy.
You can control your own behavior but you can’t control how others behave back toward you… so these behaviors are meant to control others but leave you feeling out of control of getting that confident feeling inside.
All that effort to be perfect…to not get criticized…but have these behaviors helped you to build that rock solid feeling of confidence from within? Have these approaches helped you to have confidence in the heat of the moment with difficult people?
The solution? Here are 7 ways to have instant confidence.
- Get your confidence from within.
- Get it from the rewards of helping people.
- Get it from the satisfaction of doing your job well and achieving a meaningful result.
- Get it from the enjoyment of learning and growing your skills.
- Get it from feeling calm and alive in your body.
- Get it from feeling love for and from other people.
- Get it from rising above your daily frustrations and making a difference in your life.