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Losing Confidence in What You Do? 4 Steps to Regain Confidence

Oh, those voices in our heads! You know the ones. They whisper words of judgment and doubt. They ask us, “Who do you think you are?” and “How could you possibly be so clueless?” They are masters at making us feel as if we’re just not good enough. And before we even realize it’s happening, slowly but surely, we start losing confidence in who we are, what we do, and pretty much everything we ever thought we knew.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. According to the online therapy platform BetterHealth, everyone lacks confidence occasionally.[1] It’s also not your fault. So many factors contribute to losing confidence. An article in Psychology Today points to everything from genetic makeup to life experiences to media messages as reasons why we may be losing confidence.[2]

So, what can we do when we’re losing confidence? The answer is “a lot.”

Below are four simple steps that have restored confidence quickly in the people I coach, and I know they’ll help you do the same.

Step 1: Figure Out the Root Cause

Knowing why you’re losing confidence is key to reversing that downward spiral and not only getting your confidence back but also strengthening it in the process.

So, take the time to become aware of your environment, your thoughts, your behaviors, and your relationships so that you can identify the negative influences that need to be addressed.

For example:

  • Are you comparing yourself to other people’s “highlight reels” on social media? Does doing that boost your confidence or does it do the very opposite?
  • Are you putting unrealistic expectations on yourself? Do you feel as if you have to be “perfect” or that you have to “know it all” from the word go? Are those “unattainables” part of the problem in your losing confidence?
  • Are you feeling your age? Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, every season of life brings with it new experiences, and sometimes, having to learn something new contributes to our losing confidence in who we thought we were.
  • Are the people in your life—your so-called “friends,” your bosses, colleagues, or even your significant others—disrespecting you to the point of beating you and your self-confidence down?

Asking yourself these questions and getting answers will help you to begin to break free from whoever and whatever is dragging you down.

Step 2: Remember Who You Are

I know. This sounds either too simple or a bit daunting and maybe even scary. But I promise you that all the people I have coached have found it to be empowering.

This is, quite simply, taking inventory of yourself. So, take out a sheet of paper. Write down the years you’ve been alive.

You can start at any age and focus on individual years or group years in increments of five or ten years. It doesn’t matter how you go about doing this. It only matters that you get real with yourself when you do.

Humans tend to remember and reflect more on the negatives in life—past traumas, unfavorable experiences, perceived failures.[3] So, for this exercise, you want to force yourself to write down things you have done in your past that have gotten you to where you are today.

No moment is too small. No judgments and no cherry-picking. You simply write it all down.

For example, when you were 11 months old, did you take your first steps? What year did you speak your first word? When did you learn to ride your bicycle? Were you 16 when you got your driver’s license? Did you learn your computer skills on a PC or a Mac? When was your first crush or kiss? Were you ever responsible for a fur baby or feathered friend? When’s the first time you boarded an airplane? How old were you when you cashed your first paycheck? What’s one thing you did in your past that you never thought you’d ever be able to do?

You see how when we objectively review all the things we’ve done (and succeeded at)—many of which we had no clue how to do at the start—we begin to realize just how capable we are?

It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes or didn’t fall down while trying and learning. We most likely did. The point is that we progressed and that nothing—neither the good things nor the bad—lasted forever.

In doing this exercise, we begin to see ourselves more clearly and boost our self-confidence. We also start to gain perspective from hindsight, often having those lightbulb moments of how one event that didn’t go as planned actually turned into the catalyst for a moment that was bigger and better than you could have ever anticipated.

We then take this to the next level and go outside of ourselves. So, write a little social media post or craft a simple text message asking the other people in your life to share two or three qualities that come to mind when they think about you.

Don’t be shy about it, and don’t fear what they may say. I promise you that the responses you get will surprise you in a positive kind of way.

We all are our own worst enemies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to become friends with who we are (and who those voices of self-doubt and judgment in our heads have us convinced we may be).

Step 3: Strike a Pose

Madonna fans may have just uttered the word “Vogue” and, yes, that’s part of what I’m talking about here. If you’ve never actually read the lyrics from Madonna’s 1990 hit bearing that title, I encourage you to do so.

That song is all about getting on the dance floor when you don’t feel good enough inside yourself. The lyrics are speaking to anyone losing confidence, and they suggest how throughout history, icons with attitude just got out there and did their thing—and you can, too.

Don’t believe me? Don’t think it can be that simple? Don’t know or even like to dance?

I hear you. But before you dismiss this step, consider this example from what started me on the path to striking my pose whenever I felt as if I was losing confidence and needed a boost.

I was a young corporate executive struggling to keep my head above water during a particularly challenging time of merging with another team. My paths crossed with an older, wiser “been around the block” celebrity moments before I would be facing a boardroom filled with decision-makers of my fate.

This gracious lady shared with me her secret as to how she was able to exude confidence even in her most dreaded moments.

Ready for it?

In the elevator, hallway, or the bathroom you visit on your way to whatever it is that has shaken your faith in you and your abilities, you do what she told me was called “the Wonder Woman pose” (works no matter how you self-identify).

Simply put, you stand straight, take up some space, put one hand on each hip, chin tilted upward, breathe in, and be present. Hold this pose for a few minutes. It’s one of the power poses by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

This Harvard Professor, author of the bestselling book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, and TED Talk speaker galvanized millions with ways to access our power and elevate our confidence. If you try it, you’d be in good company.

Beyoncé does it. Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde—the French politician, lawyer, and president of the European Central Bank—does it. And Cuddy’s study explains why it works.

Our attitudes often follow our behaviors, her research suggests, meaning that assuming the body language of a powerful person can make anyone who does it feel more confident.

Step 4: Just Say “No”

Losing confidence means you’ve given your power away. And one of the fastest ways to take back your power is to utter a tiny two-letter word: NO.

Now, this is going to take some practice. But guess what? So did you when you lost confidence in yourself. Revisit Step 1 in this article. Every one of those examples took time and, yes, practice to erode your self-confidence. So now, identify which ones are negatively contributing to how you’re feeling about yourself, and let’s start practicing rebuilding your self-esteem.

Start off small. Is scrolling through your social media doing some damage to your psyche? Then just say “no” to it. Take a break from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever is consuming you.

You get to choose whether or not you allow that noise into your life. Prioritizing yourself by saying “no” to paying attention to others’ posts is something that you control and that has a very powerful payoff.

What if you’ve determined that your losing confidence is directly related to you getting older? It’s no secret that there’s bias and ageism and a socially pervasive idea that you’re either too old to do certain activities or to learn new things.

But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: At every age, we think the decade that came before was easier and that we were somehow better, smarter, faster. Some of that may be true, but most of it isn’t.

Say “no” to focusing on what you think you can’t do or you can no longer do as well as you used to. Put your energies into all that you do know, everything you have experienced, the wisdom you’ve gained, and the skills you’ve acquired. For every moment your inner voice criticizes you, tell it “No. Thanks, but no, you’re wrong, and here’s why…”

Practice saying “no” at least once a day. It can be to your own judgy voices of doubt, or it can be to the external factors you’ve identified that have caused you to lose confidence. It, along with these other suggestions, are very powerful steps in restoring your confidence.

Final Thoughts

Losing confidence in ourselves happens. It’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

I bet if you asked the people closest to you in your life—the ones who outwardly seem to be so very confident—they’ll shrug and nod, letting you know that they’ve experienced self-doubt and a loss of confidence, too. It’s part of being human and living this thing we call life.

Remember, however, the famous quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

You get to choose. You always have the power. Remember who you are. Strike a pose, and just say “no” to whatever is dragging you down.

So, what do I want to know? What’s one tiny step you’ll take today to start back on the path of restoring your confidence?

More Tips on How to Restore Confidence

  • 10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Boost Your Confidence At Work
  • 11 Killer Ways to Gain Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem

Reference

BetterHealth: Self-esteem
PsychologyToday: 5 Reasons People Have Low Self-Confidence
verywellmind: What Is the Negativity Bias?

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The most valuable thing an experienced person has is their experience. People make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt their life around them to become better people. Those people would then tell tales to others to help teach those lessons so that others would not have to make the same mistakes.

People still tell these stories today but in a slightly different format — they use speeches to express their experiences. Here are some valuable life lessons you can learn from some of the greatest inspirational speeches:

1. JK Rowling teaches us to not fear failure no matter how bad things become

It is a well-known fact that JK Rowling’s now-famous Harry Potter series was turned down by several publishers before it was finally picked up. Those publishers are likely kicking themselves in the pants right now. However, before that, JK Rowling was in a fairly dire situation and was on the brink of failure. Despite being turned down time and time again, she kept trying. Her efforts paid off. Harry Potter is now a ubiquitous character in today’s world culture. Despite failing over and over again, Rowling kept trying and fulfilled her dreams. You can watch her deliver some valuable life lessons in her Harvard commencement speech video above.

2. Steve Jobs teaches us to never settle

Steve Jobs had a fairly tumultuous life. He co-founded Apple, was kicked out of the company, came back, and then re-defined the mobile phone space with the iPhone. Even if iPhones aren’t the rage they once were, its iconic value is forever written in stone. One thing Jobs never did was settle. He lived life on his own terms and was rewarded for it by being dubbed one of the most revolutionary voices in technology of our time. In the Stanford commencement speech above, Jobs explains how you should never settle for what someone else wants out of your life. It’s your life and you should do what you want with it.

3. Admiral William H McRaven teaches us to make our beds every day

Anyone who has gone through the basic training of a military service will tell you it’s pretty difficult. However, every seemingly obnoxious step is actually a life lesson in disguise. This even applies to flawlessly making one’s bed every single morning. As Admiral William H McRaven teaches us, recruits are taught to make their beds every morning to remind them that even the little things in life matter. After all, how can you be expected to handle the biggest obstacles in your life if you can’t even handle the small and the mundane like making your bed every day? You can watch the entire speech in the video above.

4. Author David Foster Wallace teaches us that we’re a part of a greater existence

David Foster Wallace found fame in 1987 with his book The Broom of the System. Nearly 20 years later in 2005 he game a commencement speech at Kenyon College that is worth listening to at least once. In his speech, he reminds us that was are but a part of a huge, dynamic, ever changing interaction of life forms. In order to truly experience life, we need to leave our personal bubbles and interact with others even if it’s in an unpleasant way. Wallace states, “It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” You can watch the whole speech above.

5. Stephen Colbert teaches us that life isn’t something you can plan

If there is anyone who knows about improvisation, it’s comedian Stephen Colbert. In his commencement speech at Northwestern University in 2011, Colbert reminded students that you cannot plan life. Life throws too many curve balls. There are too many unpredictable things that can happen. The most successful and happy people are not those who have a plan, but those who can roll with the punches and overcome the obstacles. He goes on to site his time as an improv comic and how all of the actors working together to create a scene out of literally nothing are all working for one another. He states that like improv comedy, you don’t know what happens next in life. You just make it up as you go along. You can watch the whole speech above.

6. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to not sweat the small stuff

Some of our younger readers may not know Kurt Vonnegut. He is a famous author that found of of his success during the middle of last century. In 1999, Kurt Vonnegut was at Agnes Scott College giving a commencement speech. During the speech, he mentioned that in order to live a more complete life, people needed to let stuff go. He argued that you cannot reasonably expect others to forgive you for your mistakes if you cannot forgive others and that you cannot live life fostering a personal vendetta against others.

7. Neil Gaiman teaches us that success can be distracting.

Neil Gaiman is most known for his work in a number of literary mediums including journalism, comic books, and novels. In 2012, Gaiman gave a speech at the University of the Arts where he talked about success. He stated that when you become successful, you may be unintentionally swayed from performing the actions that made you successful. Gaiman recalled his early success and how he felt pressured to answer emails all day long and it actually prevented him from writing as much as he wanted. So he reminds us to keep doing what makes us successful and to not let others get in the way.

8. Barack Obama’s life lessons teaches us that you really can beat the odds

We know that not everyone likes Barack Obama but that doesn’t mean the man can’t deliver an amazing speech. In this 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convenction, Obama reminds that it is possible to beat the odds and become something great. He cites his own upbringing as an example and how he was never expected to make it as far as he did. It shows that when you’re passionate about something and when you try hard enough, you can accomplish almost anything. It’s important to note that Obama talks about this in 2004 and would become the President of the United States just four years later.

9. Robin Roberts reminds us that we each have the courage to overcome challenges

Robin Roberts knows a thing or two about courage. She is a breast cancer survivor and has done battle with a rare blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. Her sister once had to donate bone marrow just so Robin could remain alive. She was also ESPN’s first African American broadcaster in the early 1990’s. She’s a woman who works in an industry predominately populated by men. So when Robin Roberts takes the stage at the ESPYs and delivers a short lecture on having courage, we would do well to listen!

10. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that some things are more important than success

We all know the story of Martin Luther King Jr. So much so that we have a day of the year to celebrate him as a national holiday here in the United States. Most of us have listening to segments of his famous speech where he told the world about a dream he had. The main message of his famous speech is that racial inequalities needed to end and he was absolutely right. However, he also reminds us that there are things that are more important than success such as equal rights and treating each other with respect and kindness. If you somehow made it through school without watching the famous speech, we’ve got it linked above.

11. Jim Carrey reminds us that even if you keep it safe, you can still fail so you might as well go big

Jim Carrey delivered a commencement speech at Maharishi University recently that went absolutely viral. You may know it as the one minute video that will change your life. They weren’t lying but they weren’t telling the whole truth because the speech was actually 28 minutes long. During the speech, Carrey talks about his father who wanted to be a comedian but decided to take the safe route and become an accountant. As it turns out, his father was laid off and his family ended up poor anyway. With that, Carrey tells us that you can still end up failing even if you play it safe so you might as well swing for the fences and do what you want to do.

12. Bill Murray teaches us that it’s the hard times that determine if someone really loves you

You may have heard the story about Bill Murray crashing someone’s bachelor party and delivering a speech. It turns out the speech was both short and fairly epic. During the speech, Bill Murray challenged the bachelors to travel around the world with the women they love and go to places that are difficult to go to and deal with. He says if you can get back to the United States and you still love each other, then you should get married right then and there. It’s a great message. It’s easy to love one another when times are good but do you still love each other when the times are bad? If so, that’s true love according to Bill Murray.

Final thoughts

Inspiration comes from everywhere and from anyone. There are a countless number of speeches and stories that can teach us an incalculable number of life lessons.

All these speeches almost share the same message: Don’t be afraid to fail and keep trying.

If you also want to live your best life like the above successful people, this is what you should start doing:

You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

At the end of the day, everything is inspirational. It’s just a matter of finding the message that we need to hear to change our lives.

 

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