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7 Simple Steps to a More Confident You

7 Simple Steps to a More Confident You

For many of us, struggling with confidence is a huge blocker when it comes to running.  Self-doubt can appear in all sorts of ways and we might even realise what is happening.  Sound familiar?

In this week's blog, Personal Leadership Coach Jess Woodsford (and fellow TMR mum) writes about all things confidence. What it is, plus seven simple to follow steps to help you feel like you can literally take on the world. Enjoy!

 

If you met me in many situations, you would probably think I am a ‘confident person’. I can walk into a space and I can make conversation with people. I can crack a joke (not promising it will always be funny), and I can get up in front of large groups of people and deliver a presentation. But actually looks can be deceiving, and like many people I often feel I can lack confidence.

With the dark nights now well and truly upon us, you may be feeling uneasy about going out running on your own. But maybe you don’t feel confident enough to join a TMR run, or put that post out looking for a running buddy.

I lingered on the edge of the TMR community for quite a while before I attended any group runs. But why? What got in my way? Well, I told myself it was the kids and bedtime. I told myself I was too tired to go running and to meet new people. These felt concrete and tangible. Now don’t get me wrong, those are all absolutely legitimate reasons, but in my case it was not really the thing that was stopping me. For me, it was really a question of confidence, and questioning whether I was ‘enough’…

  • Am I fit enough
  • Am I friendly enough
  • Am I fast enough

I’d seen all these pictures of wonderful, inspiring women in the community, and I felt like I just couldn’t ‘compete’. So when I thought about going on a group run all the doubts started to bubble up…

  • What if I turn up and no one talks to me?
  • What if I can’t keep up?
  • What if it’s clear I’m not a ‘runner’ and I don’t ‘know’ anything about running?
  • What if they just don’t really want me there?

Does any of that sound familiar?

Anybody who has joined one of the TMR runs will already guess how this story ends. I eventually went on a run, and none of those fears came true. I was welcomed by a group of friendly, lovely women who chatted easily and freely.

The fears and stories I had been telling myself were completely fabricated. I had no evidence that any of it would happen, yet those stories stopped me moving forward with something I wanted to do, and something I knew would have great benefits for me. All because of confidence.

What is confidence anyway?

But what is confidence anyway? Well, confidence means very different things to different people. For some people it is about filling space; whether that is talking, presenting, singing, performing, sharing opinions, being centre of attention. But for others; confidence is about feeling comfortable to be quiet, to sit in silence, to speak when you want to rather than when you feel you ‘should’. Or maybe for you, confidence is somewhere in between, or something completely different?

Confidence is not an external force we seek out. There is no magic pill that will give you ‘confidence’ (sorry…). Instead, it is an internal feeling. It is something we all possess in different moments of our lives, and it shows itself in different ways for all of us.

Once we know how to tap into that feeling of confidence, it can be our superpower to use any time we need it. Whatever your challenge with confidence is, and however it manifests itself for you, I hope the steps I set out below will be able to help you to move forward with some of those things you really want to do.

Step 1 – Identify what confidence means to you

The first thing to do is to spend a little time thinking about what confidence means to you. Not just what it looks like, but what it feels like.

Our brains are rubbish at identifying things we are unfamiliar with, so spending time really identifying what confidence means for you can help your brain to notice when you do feel confident. And when we start to notice it in one place, we can then start to notice it in other places too.

So what does confidence mean to you? Maybe some of these questions will help, and I would recommend actually writing down your answers rather than just thinking about it:

  • What does confidence mean to you?
  • How would you know you felt confident?
  • What would be different?
  • How would you hold your body?
  • What would happen to your voice?
  • What feeling and sensations would you feel in your body, and where?

Sometimes we find it easier to identify perceived confidence in others (and I say perceived because you never really know how confident that person is really feeling). So it can be helpful to ask:

  • Who do you think is confident?
  • How do you know they are confident?
  • How do they hold their body?
  • How do you imagine they feel inside?

Step 2 – Act as if...

Now many people dislike the saying ‘fake it til you make it’ but it is a saying for a reason. You have just identified what confidence means for you, and how it would look and feel. Embodying one or two of those attributes WILL increase your feelings of confidence.

It is harder to feel sad when we are smiling, and equally it is harder to feel a lack of confidence when we are stood proud.

Social Pyschologist, Amy Cuddy’s research shows that body language governs how we think and feel about ourselves, and thus, how we hold our bodies can have an impact on our minds.  Therefore, holding yourself as if you are confident, will in fact increase your feelings of confidence.

Why not check out her Ted Talk on the impact of power poses. Striking such a pose for two minutes before doing something you are worried about can significantly impact how you feel.

Step 3 - Focus on where and when you do feel confident

It’s important to notice that the feeling of confidence is relative. There are times and situations where we may not feel confident, but for most of us there are spaces where we feel more confident. This might be in your home, with friends, when talking about particular topics or subjects.

An interesting exercise can be to map out where you do feel confident and where you don’t, and you can do this using a confidence wheel.  Fill out the wheel by picking different areas of your life and putting these as headings for each ‘slice’ of the wheel. Your headings might be things like family, friends, work, exercise, parenting, relationships. Then for each section do the following:

  1. Start by thinking what would 10/10 feel like? If I was as confident as I could be about this area of my life what would be happening? How would I be behaving? Write this information on your ‘slice’
  2. Next think about where you are now and give yourself a score out of 10

You can even get specific, and pick one area of your life, such as work, and make the headings all related to that area. For example; in meetings, working on my own, client meetings, line management etc…

Firstly notice that there are areas of our life where you may feel more confident than others. These are helpful to acknowledge, and sometimes surprising. Secondly notice that even where you feel less confident, you probably didn’t score yourself zero. In which case, notice that there is some feelings of confidence there, and your focus is on how to bring more, not creating it from scratch.

Confidence Wheel

 

 

Step 4 – Identify your tools for confidence

Now that you have identified some areas where you feel more confident, see if you can identify some of the tools and strategies you use to feel more confident in those areas. Maybe this is about knowledge and ‘doing your homework’. Maybe it is about familiarity and recognising places and faces.

Whatever it is, spend some time focusing on those areas where you feel more confident. Focus on how you feel in those situations. And once you have identified some of those tools and strategies, have a think about how you could apply them to some of the other areas where you feel less confident.

For example, if I recognise that familiarity is something that really helps me to feel confident then I could have applied this to my TMR story earlier. I could have asked a friend to come along to the first session with me, or I could have done some good old Facebook-stalking of who had said they were attending the run, so I recognised some of the faces. I could have contacted the Run Angel and asked what the route would be. All these things would have made the event feel a little more familiar to me, and therefore increased my feelings of confidence.

Step 5 – Stop saying you are ‘not confident’

As we have already established, confidence is relative and how confident you feel will depend on the time, place and situation. Therefore it is simply not true to say ‘I are not a confident person’ as this implies it is a fixed entity.

So let’s change the narrative! Stop labelling yourself as ‘Not a confident person’. As we have already identified, there are times and places that you do things more confidently. So don’t let this be a label you carry around anymore.

Simple changes to our language can have a huge impact in how we understand our experiences. Try to catch yourself when you are about to say such things and change it for a thought/sentence that empowers you more, and doesn’t label you as one thing or another. Try phrases like

“I feel less confident doing [insert activity/situation]” – Make it about the activity, not you

“I don’t feel confident doing this yet” - This is about the activity, not YOU and is also time-bound. It recognises that this won’t always be the case

“I would love to feel more confident about this” – This recognises there is some feeling of confidence, but more would be lovely.

Step 6 – Challenge the thoughts with love or laughter

When you have a situation coming up that you are worrying about, and all the thoughts start rushing around your head. Stop, and put pen to paper. Empty your mind of all those thoughts. Write them all down.

Once they are out of your head, firstly you will feel less overwhelmed. Secondly, look at that list and see whether you can show those thoughts some love or laughter. Once you read them back from a more objective space, some of them may feel utterly ridiculous and so unlikely (or impossible) that you can laugh at them. Others may be coming a place of fear, and that bit of your subconscious that just wants to keep you safe and protected. These thoughts we can show some love. It’s ok to want to feel safe and protected, we all do. But notice that often we are safe to step forward and the most likely outcome is never really that dangerous.

Step 7 – Scenario planning

And this leads me on to my final step. When you empty out those thoughts some of them may seem like perfectly rational things to worry about. In these cases, scenario planning can be a great tool. For each worry, plan what your response could be. Follow this process:

  1. My worry is… [write out worry, probably a worst case scenario]
  2. If this should happen I could… [write what you could do in response, and notice this is a ‘could’ not a ‘should’ or ‘will’, we are simply offering our mind some alternatives]
  3. The likelihood of this happening is… [highly unlikely? Highly likely? Probable? Whatever scale works for you]
  4. The most likely thing that will happen is.. [rather than worst case scenario, what is most likely to happen]
  5. In which case I will… [write how you could respond to the most likely scenario]

For example

1. My worry is… I won’t be able to keep up with the others in the group run

2. If this happen I could… 

  • just go home
  • tell the run angel I am struggling
  • take my headphone in my pocket and plod along on my own

3. The likelihood of this happening is… unlikely, I know I can run for 30 minutes and I know TMR always loop and don’t leave people behind.

4. The most likely thing that will happen is… Even if I’m at the back, I will have company

5. In which case I will… chat with whoever is near me, and not worry about how fast others are going. 

So there are my seven steps to feeling more confident. I really hope you find them useful. Ultimately, all you need to remember is to be kind to yourself. It is ok to feel less confident about new things, or different things, or challenging things. You are human. Your current feelings of confidence do NOT define you. So reject those labels, and just remember that you are awesome, and your confidence is yours to own.

W- www.jesswoodsfordcoaching.com

E -coaching@jesswoodsfordcoaching.com

FB- @JessWoodsfordCoaching

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