A few months ago, I started a series of interviews with some very talented Life Coaches. I just love reflecting on where this journey has taken me. And I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity for a coaching session with Life Coach Julie Brown from The Sassy Life Coach. Julie and I talked about something very close to my heart at the moment. And what I’m sharing with you today are 3 ways to boost your self-confidence.
For a coaching session to be most effective, it’s helpful if you have an idea of what you’d like to work on. That’s why most coaches will send you a questionnaire or have a discovery call with you before your session. This is to find out what area(s) you’d like to focus on and make the most of your time together. So in preparation for my coaching call with Julie, I shared with her some thoughts and experiences around my self-confidence. And in particular, around the fact that over the years my self-confidence has been a bit shaky.
1. Acknowledge and tackle the ‘impostor syndrome’
Low self-confidence is something that has always come up with me (to a certain degree) in my job. So Julie and I focused mainly on self-confidence in the work space. Having recently changed careers from working as a Business Analyst for 11 years to becoming a freelance writer, I know that I have a fair dose of what’s referred to as ‘impostor syndrome’. Without looking for the ‘proper’ dictionary definition, my understanding of impostor syndrome is that you effectively feel a bit a like a ‘fraud’ in your own job or business.
So, if you suffer from impostor syndrome you tend to have this subconscious fear of not being good enough at your job – not having the right education, or the right skills, or even the right capabilities to do what it is that you do. For me, most recently, the infamous impostor syndrome has been responsible for some of these questions: “How can I call myself a writer when I don’t have any formal education in writing?”. Or, “How can I ask anyone to pay me for a piece of writing when they know I don’t have any formal qualifications?”. “What if I’m just not good enough?”
Interestingly though, Julie reassured me that a lot of the people who actually experience impostor syndrome tend to be high-achieving, highly-intelligent, and competitive individuals! And isn’t that a confidence boost all in itself? Think about it – at the end of the day, just the fact that you’re asking yourself whether you’re good enough at what you do puts you in a position to strive to do better and achieve more, even if it’s just to prove yourself that you can do it. I decided to take this as a compliment and take it in my stride. What if could turn the thoughts that are generated by the impostor syndrome into positive self-talk? Which leads me nicely to the next point…
2. Give your self-talk a name
The very first strategy that Julie shared with me was to give my self-talk a name. A proper name.
When I started paying a little more attention to my internal dialogue, especially during the How To Lead a Gentle Life Course with Emily Hodge, I noticed that my internal dialogue seems to centre a lot around fear of failure. “What if I can’t do this?”, “And what will people think?”, “What if I give up and let myself and my family down?”. And, “Who do I think I am to change career at my age anyway?” All this fear, up until not too long ago, meant that I was too scared of even telling people what I do!
So, following Julie’s advice, I’ve given this self-talk a name. It’s now called Grumpy. It seems appropriate, don’t you think? When Grumpy starts going off on one, I can easily spot it. And I can address it. “Drop it Grumpy! I’m having a good day – stop trying to spoil it.” Or, “Leave me alone Grumpy. I’ve got better things to do right now.” And sometimes it’s just as easy as that. Isn’t it much easier to win an argument against something called Grumpy? I mean, think of the satisfaction you get out of it! Brilliant piece of advice, thank you Julie.
3. Start a ‘Big Me Up Book’
Another tool that Julie shared with me was to start a Big Me Up Book. Julie suggested that I started the book by writing down 50 random things that I know I’m good at or are good about me. Once you do that, everything that people say you’re good at or have done well goes in the book. If, like me, you find it hard to accept a compliment, especially when it’s related to your abilities, the your Big Me Up Book can become a precious tool to help you accept and internalise these compliments. They become things that you know you’re good about.
And without asking, I started to see themes there. People do compliment me on my writing. People do say that I’m good at solving people’s problems and breaking stuff down in a way that’s easy for people to understand. I’m not making it up – it literally is the feedback I get. Don’t you find it validating to hear other people say you’re good at a particular thing, even when you don’t even know it yourself? And that’s the whole idea really – convincing your conscious mind of a few facts that you should really start believing!
Does your self-confidence need a boost from time to time? Do you have any tips to share? Will you share these tips?