Time for me to give away my secrets, and show you how to be your own confidence coach.
These are tangible strategies for building confidence, that I've used time and time again since I started coaching people on self-confidence in 2007.
Here we go.
1. Name what matters
It wasn't until my breakdown in 2001 that I was forced to confront how I'd been living. I saw that not only was my life empty of the things that really mattered to me, but I didn't even have a clue what those things might be.
And unless I did the work to discover what truly mattered to me, I'd still be out there somewhere, spinning in space, wasting my time, achieving nothing that means anything.
What matters to you is an anchor for who you are
Confidence is being able to chose your behaviour with implicit trust in that behaviour, something that gets riddled with doubt and second-guessing whenever your choices are based on vapour, assumptions and phantom wants.
But when your choices are anchored to what matters to you most, finding the self-trust to get behind those things is made a whole lot simpler. You do it, because it matters. It's that simple.
So look at the pivotal and most meaningful moments of your life, for better or worse, and dig into those times to name the elements that truly, wonderfully matter.
2. Scrape away the assumptions
Assumption is the enemy of common sense.
They fill you up with the way things ought to be, how other people should do things and how your life should work.
Of course, it's all bullshit.
Every assumption you make is a conclusion you've reached about a facet of life, your world, and your place in it. For every one of those assumptions, there's a pattern of thinking and behaviour you follow as though it were Truth.
S you start living by default, your assumptions calling the shots.
Assumptions preclude your ability to make deliberate decisions
You can't be confident when you're living by assumption and making default decisions. Everything will be about maintaining the status quo and staying in your comfort zone, and there's zero chance for growth, risk or possibility.
But when you scrape away your assumptions you become untethered from all the silly rules you placed on yourself, and your natural confidence can breathe again.
Take those thoughts and assumptions about how life should be, then open them up, peer into them, and chuck out the ones that don't serve you well.
3. Make a better cave
Take a look around you. You might be surrounded by clutter. Or maybe everything's in its place. Is it a little warm for you? Something in the corner of your eye that keeps nagging at you? Keep getting distracted by that thing you need to take care of?
Since our caveman days, we human beings have been pretty darn good at shaping our environment to suit our needs. Warmth, shelter and safety were top of the list to make sure we didn't perish in the cold or get eaten by sabre-toothed tigers. Now we're more focused on Netflix, throw cushions and wooden flooring.
My point here is that you have an amazing ability to build an environment around you that makes it easier to live the life you want to live.
You get to create an environment that's congruent with what matters
Your home, your work, your friends, your relationships, your finances, your body and your spirit are different spaces in your environment, and each one has a role to play in how confident you feel and how confidently you live.
If there's something in your work that flies in the face of what matters to you, if there's a relationship that's draining you or if you're in denial when it comes to your finances, your confidence can take a direct hit.
Instead, look at those spaces to form your day to day environment and see how you can nurture them, give them room to flourish, breathe fresh life into them or weave into them the things that matter to you.
It's by creating an environment that's congruent with what matters that you get to love fully.
So get to work. Make a better cave.
4. Go over the lines
Growing up, all those rainy Sundays were filled with page after page of pirates, spaceships and monsters, all coloured in carefully with garish felt-tip pen to bring them to life.
I was always careful to colour only within the lines in those colouring books. The lines were there for a reason, I thought, presumably put there by someone who knew what they were doing, and my job was to make their ink outline look wonderful.
Of course, when it comes to life, only adding colour between the lines will only ever give you something safe and predictable. Something other people have already defined.
Keep working within the lines and there's no requirement for you to have any confidence at all. Your boundaries are right there in front of you and all you need to do is stay inside them.
Confidence is applied right at the point where it's easier to stay within the lines
Natural confidence is both:
- the quality that allows you to go into new territory and trust that you'll be okay whatever happens, and
- the capability that grows as a result of that exploration
Going over the lines will always feel uncomfortable and you don't have to feel confident enough to do it, you just have to trust that you can.
5. Shit will happen
Life will always have something up its sleeve that will throw shit against the proverbial fan. Try as you might, things will go wrong, plans will go awry and discomfort will be felt.
None of that means that you're doing it wrong or not good enough. Like death and taxes, mistakes, failure and curveballs are simply one of those truths of life.
The trouble comes when you think those things happened because you're not good enough, or when you define yourself as not good enough because of them.
The key to real, natural confidence is being able to tap into that core when you're in the middle of the storm with the shit flying. If you can take a moment, breathe in, and know that you're already whole and good enough, then you've got it.
Screwing up, failure and Shaking in your boots don't preclude confidence
Judging bad times, fear, failure, doubt or discomfort for being unpleasant or unwanted is like judging your toes for not being able to play the trumpet.
Of course your toes can't pay the trumpet. Don't turn that into a problem.
Of course those hard times and screw ups are unwanted and uncomfortable. Don't turn that into a problem.
Build a relationship with those times that's based on the compassionate understanding that they're essential to a rich life. And when they arrive simply nod your head in acknowledgement, get ready to plant your feet and trust that you can deal with whatever happens.
I know that in your really dark moments you have some big fears. Fears about never being good enough for other people to truly love you or to belong. Fears about never being deserving of the kind of life you always wanted to have. And fears about how you'll never be truly accepted if people knew the real you.
We all have those fears. It's part of being human. If you let them, they'll smother your natural confidence like a hundred blankets on a newborn.
So if there's one thing above everything else to remember, it's that those fears are just thoughts that bubble up in your brain. That's what your brain does constantly, create thoughts. These deeply scary thoughts are just more thoughts, no more important than a thought about that movie you watched last weekend or a thought about what you need to pick up at the store on the way home.
The weight and fear that becomes attached to those thoughts is simply how you respond to them, based on our human need for connection, love and belonging. But they're still just thoughts, and you get to choose how you respond to them.
Natural confidence gifts you with a tangible sense of already being whole and good enough
Knowing that you're already whole and already good enough is HUGE. It means you can respond to circumstances from a place where you don't have to fit in, please everyone else, do what's expected, prove yourself as worthy or do what your fears tell you.
That's natural confidence, and it's freaking wonderful.
Now it's about practice
There's depth and breadth to these different areas, but when you practice these things consistently you will build confidence.
I guarantee it.
These are how you can be your own confidence coach, and how I might do myself out of a job.
Which one of these seems most resonant or relevant to you? Let me know in the comments which one you want to start with...