Have you ever been making great progress only to get stuck and find your confidence disappears? Or perhaps you’ve achieved a big success that’s been quickly followed by a crash of confidence and self-esteem? Or maybe your confidence just evaporates away slowly over time?
Regardless of how robust we might appear on the outside, we are all vulnerable. We can be especially vulnerable when there is uncertainty.
Our confidence can easily be knocked by a passing comment from a friend or colleague. Or when we’re working hard to deliver a project quickly or make a change happen and are faced with blockers and negativity. I’ve also known confidence to disappear for no apparent reason. That’s why knowing practical tips for how to gain confidence is a crucial skill.
Then there’s the critical voice in your head that tells you ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you’re going to get found out’. The little voice nags away, becomes louder, more insistent and more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know, and stop pushing forward and getting things done fast because it feels safer to stand still. Only when you stand still does the nagging voice stop chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem.
It turns out that the little nagging voice is a thing. It’s called Imposter Syndrome. It’s a term first coined in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance, and Suzanne Imes. It describes the psychological phenomenon which is characterized by intense feelings of not being good enough, negativity, being a fraud and that you are going to get found out – even though all the evidence suggests otherwise.
Gaining your confidence back once the little nagging voice takes hold is hard. I see it like this;
Every day, you have a bucket of confidence. Every time you get push back from someone, every time you get a negative comment, or even a disparaging look from the right person, a little bit of your confidence leaks away.
To gain your confidence and increase your self-esteem, you have to put habits in place to keep your confidence bucket full. Every day. I don’t believe that some people have confidence and others don’t. It’s simply that successful people are more accomplished at managing their feelings of self-doubt and silencing that little internal voice before it has a chance to jeopardise them.
‘If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.’ Vincent Van Gogh
Gaining confidence is about keeping your bucket topped up on a daily basis. Here are 7 tips to gain confidence and really boost your self-esteem:
1. Log your achievements
Get yourself a physical notebook or create an online file and log your achievements. Log them all, especially the small ones because they add up.
Keep the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a friend, the well done – good job email from a manager, or the time your colleagues went the extra mile for you.
Write them down. Writing them down helps you to acknowledge them, which makes you feel good.
In addition, seeing your achievements written down, helps you realise how far you’ve come, the positive impact you have every day and how much you’ve achieved overall. Instead of your ‘to do’ list – it’s your ‘I did it!’ or ‘ta da!’ list.
2. Call out your Imposter Syndrome
It’s actually rather common. 70% of people have had feelings of being inadequate and getting found out at one time or another.
When that little nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and anything good that happens to you is luck – call it out. For example, acknowledge that it’s happening and disconnect that annoying voice from the real you and tell it to shut up.