5 Ways to Create Unshakeable Confidence
Updated: Aug 1
There's this saying about anxiety: "Anxiety tells us the story that there's something we have to fix now."
Lack of confidence tells us a similar story: we can relax and feel confident only once we achieve more and get recognized for it.
Our mind says: "I just need that certification, promotion, that award - then I'll be okay, happy, confident."
We get off work, open up our dating app and think: "If I just find a partner and get engaged, I'll be okay, happy, confident."
Or, "If my kid gets accepted to the good school, I'll be okay, happy, confident."
And so it goes; we continue to chase our success as the goalpost picks itself up and moves further down the field.
Most of us learned to think about confidence as a byproduct of our hard work and achievement. No one may have said this to you explicitly, but we've watched enough movies, heard enough success stories, or had enough prompting from our parents to know where to put our attention.
We all know that if we work hard and achieve, the rest should fall into place. Right?
Here's how this line of thinking undermines our ability to create confidence:
Studies have shown that executives, especially from marginalized communities, continue to struggle with imposter syndrome. I also see this often in my work as a coach. Take it from someone who hears what's happening in the minds of high achievers - there are no guarantees you'll find confidence when you hit that goal.
Even when we do grow our confidence, it's situational.
Situational confidence - confidence that shows up only in certain circumstances, situations, or under certain conditions.
Here are some examples of what situational confidence looks like:
We feel super confident at our company of 5 years, and then when we move to a new organization, we feel like a fish out of water.
We feel fine presenting to our team of 5, but we clam up when we have to give a speech to the organization.
We are the life of the party with our friends, but we forget our names on a first date.
Situational confidence is the most common type of confidence that results from hard work, repetition, or familiarity with a group, space, or community, and it can undermine our ability to reach our full potential.
We gravitate towards what we know, what's safe, and what makes us feel good, so we want to stay in the smaller ponds that make us feel confident.
Our desire to stay comfortable can prevent us from discovering new passions and growing our experience and expertise.
Even though it feels like safety in our nervous system, it's not secure.
Situational confidence is the shakiest kind of confidence that you can create because it relies on external factors:
Any time we outsource our confidence to external factors, we give up our power.
It can also create defensiveness or rigidity because part of us fears losing our status or recognition when someone more skilled comes in to replace us.
In this way, relying on external validation to feed our confidence can stop us from advancing and innovating.
So, how can we in-source our confidence and experience it more reliably in all areas of our lives?
The short answer is that we must detach our confidence and sense of personal value from achievement.
This way of thinking challenges everything we've learned.
Here are some practical ways you can begin to shift to unshakeable confidence:
Become growth-oriented by changing the metrics of success. Rather than tying your success and confidence to achievement, focus on growth. Set growth-oriented goals and measurable metrics that support you. Reverse engineer the outcome and ask yourself: what would a person in the position want to do? How would they act? What skills would they have? Intentionally cultivate those skills.
Practice celebration. Create a habit of regularly celebrating the small things. Pro-tip, enlist your partner, friends, or family in this. Make the culture of your home one of celebration, and notice how your joy and confidence rise.
Find joy in being bad at something - or at least grow your tolerance. To be excellent, we must be willing to be bad first. Set your ego aside and allow yourself to do things you are bad at. Did you know? Practicing something you are "bad at" for seven minutes daily supports brain health.
Change your language with yourself. Bring awareness to the inner-critical voices and question the thoughts and beliefs that they bring in. Even simply noticing the frequency and context of these thoughts has created significant shifts in my clients' lives.
Practice feeling inspired by other people's success. One of my teachers always says: "Jealousy is simply the misunderstanding that you can't have it too." Begin to be open to seeing others' success as proof that it's possible for you.
Start small; even one of these tips can drastically shift your motivation and confidence over time. The best part is that this kind of confidence gives you energy back, reduces anxiety, and effectively sharpens your skills. Not to mention, it inspires and magnetizes people and opportunities to your doorstep.
Building confidence from the inside out means knowing your inherent value and taking agency over your growth, and that's the kind of power and peace no one can ever take away from you.
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