Show me how to build personal confidence

It sounds corny, but I have been so busy working on some new training material recently that I haven’t had the time to blog about it.

My last blog was about self esteem, and I’ve been working on skills and techniques to help people with reflecting on their thought processes, beliefs and “rules” that are limiting, and how to take those first uncertain steps to their new self confident future.

You may be surprised to learn that the things that get in the way of building self confidence are often self-made.

Self confidence or self-esteem refers to the way we see and think about ourselves, and is our recollection of all the experiences and interpersonal relationships we’ve had in your life. Our minds lay down patterns of learned responses which can become ingrained and affect how we see the world.
Let me ask – do you often:

– see yourself failing before you begin?

– have a hard time forgiving your mistakes and make yourself  pay the price forever?

– believe you can never be as good as you should be or as others?

– put on a brave face but feel empty inside?

—These are often automatic negative thought patterns that are triggered, consciously or unconsciously and may indicate low self esteem. This often results in making unfavourable comparisons with others, negative self talk – that inner voice that chatters all the time – feelings that people don’t like me, that nobody’s going to talk to me,  I don’t know what to say.
The reason I have included a tethered elephant at the top of the blog is to highlight that the mind builds assumed constraints. In training elephants when they are young, they learn that tethering restricts their movement. In their later life they don’t forget this “rule” – we remember that elephants never forget, right? So even though they are no longer tethered in their later life, whenever they have a cuff on their leg they think THEY CANT ESCAPE.
Unconsciously we can tether ourselves to a post, constraining what we think we can do, based on our early experiences. These thinking distortions govern the way we see the world. Distortion is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others. We all do this both consciously and unconsciously, and how we do this provides pointers to our underlying beliefs about ourselves, others and the world.
Here’s some examples:
  • All or Nothing Thinking:   seeing things as black or white, right or wrong. If I’m not perfect I’m a failure
  •  Overgeneralization: Using words like always, never in relation to a single event or experience.
  •  Minimising or Magnifying  (Also Catastrophizing):  Seeing things as dramatically more or less important than they actually are. Often creating a “catastrophe” that follows.
  •  Labelling: Attaching a negative label to yourself or others following a single event.  I’m such a wimp!  What an idiot
  •  Jumping to Conclusions :
    • Mind-Reading: Making negative assumptions about how people see you without evidence or factual support.
    • Fortune Telling Making negative predictions about the future without evidence or factual support –  I won’t be able to sell my house and I’ll be stuck here (even though housing market is good).
  •  Discounting the Positive: Not acknowledging the positive. Saying anyone could have done it or insisting that your positive actions, qualities or achievements don’t count…  I’ve only cut back from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to 10. It doesn’t count because I’ve not fully given up yet.
  • Blame & Personalization: Blaming yourself when you weren’t entirely responsible or blaming other people and denying your role in the situation  If only I was younger, I would have got the job, If only I hadn’t said that, they wouldn’t have

There are plenty more examples – contact me now  to request:

  • a worksheet about thinking distortions see how many you can recognise in your thinking
  • my Take 5 steps that you can practice daily – it takes just 5 minutes;
  • a worksheet for tackling those limiting beliefs.

If you recognise some of the thinking distortions above, maybe you have noticed that your self confidence is situational, i.e. you seem to have less self confidence in some situations than others?

The following characteristics of genuinely low self esteem may impact seriously on people who lack confidence in many social or working situations, and this is often demonstrated in their body language.

  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety and emotional turmoil
  • Lack of social skills and self confidence. Depression and/or bouts of sadness
  • Less social conformity
  • Eating disorders
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • An Inability to see yourself ‘squarely’ – to be fair to yourself
  • Accentuating the negative
  • Exaggerated concern over what you imagine other people think
  • Self neglect
  • Treating yourself badly but NOT other people
  • Worrying whether you have treated others badly
  • Reluctance to take on challenges
  • Reluctance to put yourself first or anywhere.
  • Reluctance to trust your own opinion
  • Expecting little out of life for yourself

I came across a fantastic picture depicting thinking styles through my facebook contacts [thanks to “Above the Line Thinking”] – typically people with confidence have “above the line thinking”. If you lack self confidence the chances are you have “below the line thinking”.

Check out the picture and see examples of the thinking of “victims” of people who feel they have no control – at effect in NLP terminology, and of “heroes” who are full of actionat cause in NLP terminology.

Where are you?

What can you do to move from cause to effect?

How do confident people deal with uncertainty, anxiety and fear of failure?

They tend to think differently.

They are action based, they see opportunities rather fear, and if in doubt they look for evidence of when they have achieved something to reassure them that that can tackle a challenge

They don’t compare themselves unfavourably with others but may model their behaviour on how they see a successful person approaches a task.

You can learn how to think the way confident people do.

  • Practice thinking about a situation differently – to move from  being afraid of uncertainty to recognising a challenge and feeling excited about it based on remembering how you feel when looking forward to an opportunity
  • When faced with “I’m never going to be able to do that” challenge yourself to think of something that you could achieve – look for evidence of when you did
  • Notice your inner critic and turn down the volume, make the voice smaller less vivid – you can choose whether to listen or ignore it
  • RELAX and expect the best rather than fearing the worst
  • Imagine what success looks like VIVIDLY and pretend you will be successful, it will have the same positive impact on your thinking as if you have already succeeded

I’m very excited about the self esteem training programme I am building with 3 colleagues, which will not only address these “mind” issues, but also body, heart and spirit.

Have a look at my blog for some background and more useful tips.

Contact me to learn more…

You can find more about me at or check out my facebook business page!/jas1955 or follow me on Twitter



Filed under career, coaching, leadership, lifestyle, workplace wellbeing

2 responses to “Show me how to build personal confidence

  1. Nice educational post. Blog giving very good message about if you generate confidence. This confidence shows properly. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You are correct in aligning the body alongside the mind! Many do not realize that self-esteem is manifested in the body as well as the mind. If someone emulates high self-esteem in their body language, then it can positively affect the mind itself.

    Thanks for the article,
    Andy K.

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