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Self-Confidence – The Loch Ness Monster Of Personal Development

Written by: Christelle Deblon, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

"I don't dare. I'm not going to get it right. It's not good enough yet; I need to work on it. Other people know but not me; how do they do it? I don't have the skills. I have no talent."


How many times a day do you hear a similar little voice in your head? It happened to me all the time for years. And still today, from time to time. Because let's face it: keeping your self-confidence at a reasonable level is a lifelong practice. Self-confidence is a muscle that you can develop and maintain; that’s the first good news.

What is self-confidence?

It's a conviction, a belief that we have all we need to do what we must or want to do. A feeling of inner security that reassures us. A kind of solidity that allows us to leave our comfort zone and take risks. A valuable resource that makes us feel comfortable and proud of ourselves.


If everyone is a candidate for a self-confidence deficit, certain personalities are more easily affected, such as perfectionists or people who received little unconditional love in their childhood (I'll elaborate on this notion in another article, but let's say that it's about knowing that we are loved for the person we are and not just for what we do).


Self-confidence is also subject to life events: losing one's job or experiencing a divorce, for example, are moments when self-confidence is undermined, as our life foundation is so profoundly disrupted.

Self-confidence varies in time and space; that’s the second good news.


How can we build our self-confidence?

That's reassuring, you might say, but what do we do in practice? Let's look at some valuable strategies that are often simple but not easy (can you see the difference?).


Be kind to yourself

When your best friend is in trouble, how do you react? Do you start by criticising him or her, by saying, "I told you so, it's your fault, you should have done something different"? Probably not. But then, why do you act this way with yourself? Why this rudeness? Why these constant judgements?


Learn to look at yourself with kindness. Start by appreciating the beautiful person you are. Yes, there are beautiful things in each of us; we all have qualities and talents, even if it might be difficult for some of us to become aware of them (if it’s your case, keep on reading, I share below an exercise that will help).


Embrace your imperfections

No, you are not perfect, despite your Great Inner Perfectionist! Yes, you make mistakes. And you know what? That's good news because those who never make mistakes can’t progress.

For example, I had an imperfect mother, and I was one myself. I was built not only on the positive models my mother gave me but also on her imperfections. Likewise, I left room for my children to grow, step back, and become not a monkey of perfection but the beings they were meant to be. By being imperfect, I have opened wide doors for them.


Our quest for perfection also takes us away from others. For example, a friend of mine put so much pressure on herself to make the meals she offered perfect; it gave her so much stress that she finally gave up and decided to go to the restaurant whenever people came to visit her. This is a great shame because she lives in an exceptional environment. I would much rather spend quality time with her on her terrace over a simple spaghetti bolognese than go to a restaurant, even a very good one.


Track your beliefs

As I've already mentioned, we naturally tend to be judgmental. And often, the judgements we make are generic and unquestionable: I'm rubbish, I'll never succeed, it's always like this,...


When I coach, a series of little words catch my attention: always, never, nothing, everything, etc. They are a sign of an underlying belief, usually negative. But did you know that our brains are programmed to support our beliefs, whether they are limiting or supporting? It's a vicious circle. Do you think you are useless or incompetent? Your brain will permanently hide what could disabuse you of this belief.


You should pay attention to your vocabulary and look out for the little words that trap you. When you hear one, stop and ask yourself what’s the belief behind. Then question yourself: is it really true. Can you be absolutely sure it's true?


For example: “I'm rubbish”. Really? All the time? So I can't speak, write, communicate, love, help or share? I have no skills? Really? Look further and find the small piece of yarn in the ball of wool of this belief and unravel it: ”Well, I do connect easily with others, I know how to tinker, I am often told that I am reliable...”


You could also ask for feedback from someone who knows you well and phrase your request precisely, such as: "What do you think I do well?” Then, leave your inner judge to the side and welcome the response. Better still, savour it, savour it slowly; you'll see how good it feels!


Inspiration or comparison?

We live in a society of images. You only have to wander around on confidence destroyers like Instagram or watch certain highly intellectual shows like 'Les Marseillais' to see how much emphasis is placed on the 'perfection' of bodies. To be someone, all you need is to master Photoshop or to have a muscular and tattooed body. Really?


My grandfather, a wise man, often told me, 'You will always find someone more beautiful, more intelligent, richer or stronger than you.” I realise that I have often said this to my children. Rather than comparing yourself, look for your uniqueness! What makes you unique? What makes you beautiful in the eyes of those who love you? The media gives us images of perfection. But these are only images; they are not real life. Not to mention that even the most beautiful people have their complexes and often suffer from a lack of self-confidence.

On the other hand, I like to be inspired. For example, I admire Steve Jobs for his visionary side and for going to great lengths to realise his ideas. Even though he was also a terrible person in human relationships at least until he was about to die. While comparing ourselves (or the other person) only brings us down, being inspired by role models allows us to progress. Who inspires you? What can you learn from this person? What characteristics, even in bud form, do you already have, and how can you develop them?


Go and meet your successes

If you struggle with finding your strengths, do this exercise. Make yourself comfortable in a place where you will not be disturbed for the next fifteen minutes or even better: do the exercise in pairs: one asks the questions like a journalist, and the other answers, after which you exchange roles.


Think back to a time in your life when you achieved something you can be proud of. It doesn't matter how significant the result is or in what area. Look back on this episode. Describe it in detail: when, where, with whom, what you remember about the setting, what was said or done, what you said or did. Immerse yourself in the moment, and relive it as intensely as possible. Try to feel what happens in your body when you recall that moment, what emotions emerge, and let them come.


Then ask yourself what resources, talents or skills you have used to achieve this result. Leave modesty aside; it has no place here. Did you show perseverance, astuteness, an ability to connect?

What else? Every time you mention one of these strengths, feel it. Say to yourself, 'I am ... or 'I know ...'


Connect to the impact this simple sentence has on you. Again, let modesty aside: you have the right and the duty to be aware of your strengths!


Now ask yourself what motivated you in this situation? What made you want to do it? What was the driving force?


Finally, consider how you could use these resources and sources of motivation more often in your life.


Before quitting the exercise, write down your findings. And re-read this document often. If you have done the exercise in pairs, the 'journalist' takes notes. After going through all the questions, he/she tells the interviewee what he/she has retained and what touched him/her in the story. Then the roles are reversed.


Action, action, action!

The most important advice is this: stop thinking and act! Last week I needed to buy a train ticket, but my only means of payment was my smartphone; I had forgotten my wallet at home. I told myself, “I have to ask someone for help”, and immediately my mind spun: he will refuse you, you will look ridiculous, everyone is in a hurry,... you know what I mean. But I had no choice, so I approached a lady and explained my situation. And you know what? Not only was she happy to help me, but she even suggested a solution that I hadn't thought of. She took the time to offer me help.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie.

Our minds are programmed to see all possible problems it seems to come from a long, long time ago when we were in the savannah full of lions and had to be very, very careful. But we can go beyond these limiting ideas. Let's dare to step into the unknown, trust ourselves, and trust each other.

And, yes, sometimes we will find a closed door. But only once in a while. All the other times, we can take the opportunity to continue building our inner strength and unravel our limiting beliefs.


Conclusion

We do not all start life with the same level of self-confidence. Building it in the long term will sometimes require work and regular maintenance.


Of course, there are plenty of resources available over the web or in books. I highly recommend The power of vulnerability by Professor Brené Brown, and if you can read in French, Imparfaits, Libres et Heureux’ by Christophe André will open your eyes. Remember that calling on a coach or a therapist will help you further.


It will take time, energy and commitment. But it is well worth the effort. Because self-confidence allows you to become closer to the person you are and not the one imposed on you. It facilitates relationships and opens doors, but above all, it will give you the courage and strength to continue building your future.


Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Christelle Deblon, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

"For Christelle, joy is definitely the greatest emotion one can feel. She dreams of a world where everyone wakes up in the morning anticipating the joy of the working day to come. Not only she dreams of this, but she puts all her positive energy and broad skillset into action to make this vision become reality and to impact the professional world.


Before being a coach, she worked in marketing, communication and direct sales. She then had the chance to become a people manager. That's when she discovered her mission: helping others to become the very best version of themselves in their professional life.


In 2011, she decided to make her dream come true: she learned coaching, and started her own business. For the last 10 years, she provides hundreds of days of training, facilitated work sessions in sectors as going from banking to semi-conductors sales, helped teams and individuals to improve, led projects, and enjoyed every single day!


Living in Belgium, her mother tongue is French, and she works in English and Dutch as well.

She successfully completed her Coaching training in 2013, and kept on developing herself continuously ever since. She is certified in Stress & Burnout Coaching, Prosci ADKAR change management and Appreciative Inquiry (Case Western University). She contributed to two chapters of 'Le grand livre de l'Appreciative Inquiry' published in 2021."

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