We all question our performance and abilities sometimes. If we dwell on this for too long, this might decrease our confidence. Confidence is a measurable attribute of Mental Toughness and it can be influenced and improved.
The confidence attribute of Mental Toughness has two elements:
- Confidence in own abilities
- Interpersonal confidence
Individuals with confidence and Mental Toughness perform better under pressure and generally have better mental and physical health and well-being. What’s important in building confidence, is that it needs to be intrinsic and not about comparing yourself to others to feel better. What follows are some tips to increase your confidence.
Embrace your strengths
We all have character strengths. According to Martin Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement, the path to happiness is best achieved when we learn how to maximize our strengths. We often spend a disproportional amount of attention to our weaknesses, yet science shows clearly that correcting our weaknesses takes us only so far on the journey to reach our potential and that doing more of what we do best opens up the most effective pathways to success and happiness. Seligman offers a free strengths test here. My top three character strengths are, ‘curiosity and interest in the world’, ‘humor and playfulness’ and ‘love of learning’.
We all had failures in our life. Don’t dwell too long on them and see them as learning opportunities. If we don’t dare to fail, we’ll never try new things and hardly learn. Michael Jordan has said; “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying again”. Accept your failures and focus on what you do next. I once started a photo sharing app, which was a total failure, but I learned a lot and got to know a lot of new exciting people.
Know your achievements
We all have achieved stuff in our life. Write down your achievements. Remind yourself of them regularly and specifically before you have to perform and important task. Use an anchor to change your state of mind. An anchor is something personal that reminds you of your achievements. Make sure your anchor is always close by.
Set yourself some mini goals, some tiny commitments. This can be anything from not drinking coffee for a day or to help an old lady crossing the road. Be proud once you achieved your tiny commitment. It is proven that tiny changes can have a snowball effect and create new effective habits. They also build confidence. Share your tiny commitment on Twitter like I do sometimes #tinycommitment
if you catch yourself worrying about your skills or doubt yourself. Simply stop your thoughts, be mindful and focus on the task or activity that you are doing. If you drift back in to worries, gently stop your thoughts and re-focus again.
if you catch yourself questioning your abilities negatively, replace the negative thought with a positive thought. Your achievements or tiny commitments. Try to swap and find a positive angle in your negative thought that impacts your confidence.
Notice and reflect on the things you like about yourself. Write them down in a journal and read them out loud. Tennis great Serena Williams does it and calls it ‘my best friend book’. You can be knowledgeable, honest, a singer or writer, a proud parent. Any quality or skill you like about yourself will help. I sometimes browse through my affirmation app on my mobile.
Although self-appreciation increases your self-worth, self-talk can be used at the moment of performance under stress. Self-talk is widely and successfully used in sport and there is growing evidence that his has a major impact on how we approach tasks and challenges. Whatever the pressure is, try to talk yourself through it. ‘I prepared well, I’m going to nail this presentation’, or ‘I just have to get through this now, but it will be over soon’ is some of the self-talk I used in some tough business situations.
You might be having a hard time, which impacts your confidence. First of all, be aware of that, acknowledge it and then try to keep it in perspective. Times will get better and your life will go on. Your self-worth is made up from more than your current worries. You are a friend, a wife, husband, maybe a parent. Your friends and family will still love you. You have hobbies and stuff you are good at. There might be worse things in the world.
My last half a tip is to start today, don’t wait until tomorrow. Include some of these elements in your day to day life and over time you will build your confidence.
About the author:
Niels van Hove is an Australian based business consultant and accredited Mental Toughness coach. If you want to participate with your team in a Mental Toughness workshop, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or download the brochure.