I’ve been coaching full time for a while now, and I’ve started to see patterns which I wanted to explore and share.

Today, I want to explore people who are experiencing a lack of self confidence.

This also reminded my of my greatest friend Adam’s speech at my wedding. He ruminated over what it was about me that he wanted to share with the room…..including stories of how I tried to get him a girlfriend by pitching his virtues to unsuspecting girls multiple times….and announced that he had figured it out – ‘Kerry gives you confidence’. So there we go – what better topic for me to start with?

What is confidence?

The dictionary tells us it is:

‘a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement.’

So you can’t touch it. You can’t say for SURE if someone else has it or doesn’t. What does that tell us about it? That it’s a sense, or a feeling. Or maybe even better – it is an internal belief. Do you believe, in you?

Two Myths about Confidence:

  1. You either have it or you don’t
  2. You can fake it until you make it

Myth #1: You either have it or you don’t

One of the biggest myths about confidence is that it is innate – you either have it or you don’t. Simply not true. Research shows that even those who we believe to be very confident, those holding positions of great responsibility and seniority, admit that on many occasions they can be wracked with nerves. So you don’t just have it, and have it all the time, contrary to popular belief!

In order to have confidence, you have to:

  • Believe you have the capacity to succeed
  • Take positive action
  • Be willing to learn from mistakes, viewing them as stepping stones to succeeding
  • Most important one in my opinion – be willing to fail

People who experience a lack of confidence may also hold a belief in their own lack of effectiveness. They may believe they aren’t capable; leading them on to avoid challenges, take the easy route, stay firmly in their comfort zone and dwell on negative results. Sound familiar?

Myth #2: You can fake it until you make it

There is a distinction between believing in yourself and faking confidence. Those who fake it until they make it are actually working against themselves. When you feel inauthentic, you tend to also feel low, and this can feed your self-doubt. When you constantly question yourself, your ability to focus, communicate and make effective, efficient decisions is affected.

So how does coaching help?

There are many ways we can work on this together. I have outlined a few below.

The Importance of Values

It is so important to firstly set up and explore your values, get to the core of what matters most to you. Then we can start to take positive steps towards improving how this shows up in your life – this naturally builds confidence. I work with individuals on this in their very first coaching session. It is the foundation for all of the good work that follows.

When does a lack of confidence show up for you?

It also helps us to explore when it shows up. Sometimes confidence is tightly tied to situations. ‘How come I am ok to get in a car which is a ton of steel, and drive on a motorway at top speed, however when I am faced with a roomful of my lovely colleagues and I have to present something, I am terrified?’

For others, confidence can just be an inner belief or voice, telling you “you’re not good enough – so don’t even try!” It may have originally served to protect you, in childhood for example. And now you are recognising that it feels unhealthy and it is preventing or restricting you from doing what you really want to do.

Exploring your ‘inner critic’

Do you hear a negative voice that gives you unhelpful thoughts about yourself? The words that you tell yourself are powerful, and you may feel completely helpless in changing how that shows up. There is hope! It’s important to explore your negative voice fully, shine a light on it, and then develop the muscle of conscious choice for something better…. and together we can diminish its power.

Choose a positive mindset

When we’re confident we turn our thoughts into judgments about what we’re capable of and then we transform those judgments into actions. When we’re feeling confident, those thoughts and judgments are likely to be supportive or positive. Of course when we’re lacking confidence those thoughts and judgments of what we’re NOT capable of are the ones that are holding us back.

So, confidence is really about choosing better thoughts – saying to yourself, “I am capable, I can do this” and “if I try this I might fail, but I will learn and succeed from that failure and it will be ok”.

Taking action – however small

Confidence is like a muscle, we can build it up by setting goals and taking action. The confidence we get from doing so grows and grows – eventually becoming habitual.

Coaching can help you in making this change, by giving you a safe space to explore all of this, and someone who is going to support you with care and help you be accountable for taking those all important, life affirming steps that you want to take.