As a coach, many of my clients come to me to improve their confidence levels. I decided to undertake a survey to understand what could be getting in the way of increasing confidence levels and what could help boost confidence. The findings were interesting:
- A high percentage of those that responded felt that their boss and colleagues had negatively impacted their confidence, as well as early childhood experiences, bullying was mentioned regularly.
- The gap between how bothered men and women were about their levels of confidence was only 12%, not as wide as usually quoted, which could mean that women are more confident than ever before or that men are being more open about their true level of confidence.
- And when looking at what positively impacted their confidence, new experiences and stepping out of their comfort zone was cited by 67% of people as the way to improve their confidence.
Our comfort zone is the space where your activities and behaviours fit a routine and pattern that minimises stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress. There is a place just outside it where we are not so comfortable, but more productive, it’s not so cosy as the comfort zone and not so stressful that we curl in a ball in a corner and give up.
I whole heartedly agree that out of your comfort zone into optimal anxiety and gain new experiences, and that it is a sure-fire way to increase your confidence, but I also know that fear usually holds us back. Here are 5 top tips on overcoming that fear, in order to step into the more confident you:
Blow It Up
Imagine your fear and blow it out of all proportion. Laughing at fears will help get control of them. e.g. You have a fear of public speaking, so you imagine all the things that could go wrong, falling off the stage, saying the wrong thing, mixing up your slides etc, no one turning up, no one being able to hear you and realise that it is highly unlikely that all of that could happen.
Is it true?
What’s the evidence for your fear, find ways that disprove it e.g. the voice says that people like you don’t go to sing lessons, or learn a new language, or do ballroom dancing. Look for evidence to disagree with what you are telling yourself, and also ask yourself who are people like you?
Do what scares you, in order to test if you could survive rejection e.g You are afraid to ask that person out for a coffee, in case they say no or laugh at you. If that happened would you survive, the only way to know is to try it.
The purpose is to challenge beliefs that certain behaviours are too dangerous to risk, when reason says that while the outcome is not guaranteed they are worth the chance. e.g if you have trouble with perfectionism or fear of failure, you might start tasks where there is a reasonable chance of failing. e.g. I don’t have great balance, so trying indoor skiing would probably have a high chance of failure for me. Risking failure would definitely teach me something about stepping out of my comfort zone, and its likely that I’d be proud of myself as a result.
Do the Opposite
Behave in the opposite of how you’d usually react. Don’t wait until you ‘feel like’ doing it: practising the new behaviour – even though it is not spontaneous – will gradually internalise the new habit. Stepping out of character: is one common type of paradoxical behaviour. e.g. a perfectionistic person could deliberately do some things to less than their usual standard; or someone who believes that to care for yourself is ‘selfish’ could indulge in a personal treat each day for a week.
Remember as Ginni Remetty said ‘Comfort and growth cannot coexist’ , if you really want to boost your confidence, take a step out of that comfort zone today and try something new.
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