"if I want to show confidence on the outside, I need to tune in to positivity on the inside"

“I just wish I felt more confident”

Some of us admit this out loud and for others these are words heard only inside our head. Some of us feel this way regularly at work (or in a personal setting) and others rarely. Either way, most of us can identify with the feeling.

So what is confidence?  Where does it come from? How do I get it?

The word confidence comes from the latin word ‘fidere’, which means ‘to trust’; therefore having self-confidence is having trust in one’s self.

At my very core are my values and beliefs.  My values reflect my personal judgement of what is important in life.  My beliefs are the things I hold to be true. Both reflect my inner self. Most of my colleagues do not know this part of me.

On the outside, there are my behaviours.  The way I conduct myself.  I might be assertive (or aggressive), engaging (or erratic), thoughtful (or judgemental), caring (or careful).  The way I respond to events or information shapes your opinion of me.  It shapes the way you experience me.  Most of the people I interact with at work recognise this part of me.

Sitting between the two – my inner self and my behaviours – are my attitudes.  My attitudes are my chosen way of thinking or feeling about things.  Notice the word ‘chosen’.  I can choose my attitude. And with this choice comes the opportunity to influence my behaviours. And with that comes the opportunity to demonstrate confidence.

My inner critic

We all have an inner critic.  The voice that whispers or shouts in our ear, often undermining our confidence. Let’s say I am about to deliver an important presentation at work.  My inner critic narrative might go something like this:

“People might be bored and start double screening; or they might ask me questions I can’t answer; and I know that really difficult individual will be there – they are bound to challenge me on something I say; I’m nervous.”

Our inner critic voices the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, it is the voice that catastrophises what might go wrong, the voice that undermines our potential.  The inner critic is the voice of judgement. So how do we counterbalance this?  How do we access the power to choose our attitude to influence our behaviours and to be confident on the outside?

We need to tune into a different voice and identify with our personal best self. We need to access the voice of affirmation:

“I am well prepared and people will want me to succeed; their questions will be representative of a desire to understand and if I can’t answer one, that’s okay; the difficult individual’s issues are theirs not mine; I’ve got this.”

For each of the undermining thoughts whispered or shouted by my inner critic, there is a positive, and balanced affirmation. My confidence is tapping into my self-belief in my own capability and judgement.

Be assertive

So if I want to show confidence on the outside, I need to tune in to positivity on the inside.  Remember our definition – having self-confidence is having trust in one’s self.  How might I achieve this? A helpful mindset is to focus on being assertive, ‘being able to state my needs and opinions firmly, fairly and authentically’.

Affirmations linked to this might include:

  1. I am empowered to state my personal needs.
  2. I am safe to voice my opinions and perspectives.
  3. I am able to communicate with authority.
  4. I am mindful of being balanced and fair.
  5. I am confident to share how I really feel.

Which do you need to work on to be your personal best self?

In all of this, it is important that we recognise that we do not personally need to hold all the answers. Being confident is not about being right. It is about speaking our truth and trusting we will get to the right place by inviting others to do the same. That way we can all be our personal best selves.

Louise Fleming
Rosewell House LLP

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