Those voices in our heads, oh, those voices in our heads! You’ve seen them before. They speak in whispers of disapproval and skepticism. “Who do you think you are?” they ask. “How could you possibly be so clueless?” and “How could you possibly be so clueless?” They’re experts at making us believe we’re not good enough. And, before we really realize it, we begin to lose faith in who we are, what we do, and pretty much everything we thought we knew.
Does this ring a bell?
You’re not the only one who feels this way. Everyone loses confidence at times, according to BetterHealth, an online counseling platform. It’s not your fault, either. There are numerous elements that contribute to a loss of confidence. According to a Psychology Today article, we may be losing confidence for a variety of reasons, including genetic makeup, life events, and media messaging.
So, what can we do if we’re losing faith in ourselves? “A great deal,” is the answer.
I’ve included four simple methods below that have instantly restored confidence in the people I teach, and I’m confident they’ll do the same for you.
Step 1: Determine the source of the problem.
Knowing why you’re losing confidence is crucial to stopping the downward cycle and regaining, as well as boosting, your confidence.
So take the time to become aware of your surroundings, ideas, habits, and relationships in order to identify the negative effects that need to be addressed.
Consider the following scenario:
Are you on social media comparing yourself to other people’s “highlight reels”? Is it true that doing so boosts your confidence or does it have the reverse effect?
Are you setting unreasonable goals for yourself? Do you ever feel as if you have to be “perfect” or “know it all” from the start? Are those “unattainables” contributing to your lack of confidence?
Do you have a sense of your age? Every season of life provides new experiences, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, and sometimes needing to learn anything new adds to us losing confidence in who we thought we were.
Do people in your life—so-called “friends,” supervisors, coworkers, or even significant others—disrespect you to the point of battering you and destroying your self-confidence?
By asking yourself these questions and finding answers, you may start to break free from whoever or whatever is holding you back.
Step 2: Remind Yourself Who You Are
I understand. This sounds either overly straightforward or a little intimidating, if not downright frightening. But I can assure you that everyone I’ve coached has found it empowering.
Simply said, this is a form of self-assessment. So, get a piece of paper. Make a list of how many years you’ve lived.
You can begin at any age and focus on individual or group years in five- or ten-year intervals. It makes no difference how you go about achieving it. When you do, it’s just important that you’re honest with yourself.
Humans are more likely to remember and reflect on the bad aspects of their lives—past traumas, negative experiences, and perceived failures.
As a result, during this activity, you should force yourself to write down things you’ve done in the past that have led you to where you are now.
There is no such thing as a trivial moment. There will be no judging or cherry-picking. You simply jot down everything.
Did you take your first steps when you were 11 months old, for example? When did you initially say your first word? When did you first learn to ride a bike? When you acquired your driver’s license, were you 16 years old? Did you learn how to use a computer on a PC or a Mac? When was the first time you had a crush or kissed someone? Have you ever had to look after a furry or feathered friend? When was the last time you took a flying ride? When you got your first paycheck, how old were you? What’s one thing you’ve done in the past that you never imagined you’d be capable of?
You know, when we look back on all the things we’ve done (and succeeded at)—many of which we had no idea how to do at the outset—we realize just how competent we are?
It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes or fall down in our attempts to learn. Most certainly, we did. The key is that we developed and that nothing lasts forever, neither the good nor the bad.
We begin to see ourselves more clearly and gain self-confidence as a result of this exercise. In hindsight, we also start to acquire perspective, and we frequently have those lightbulb moments where we realize how one event that didn’t go as planned actually became the trigger for something bigger and better than we could have imagined.
We then take it a step farther and venture outside of ourselves. So, make a quick social media post or send a text message to your friends and family asking them to share two or three attributes that come to mind when they think of you.
Don’t be afraid to say it, and don’t be afraid of what people might say. I guarantee that the responses you receive will surprise you in a good manner.
We’re all our own worst enemies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to accept ourselves (and who those voices of self-doubt and judgment in our heads have us convinced we may be).
Step 3: Strike a Pose
Fans of Madonna may have just said the term “Vogue,” and that, indeed, is part of what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read the words to Madonna’s 1990 hit with that title, I strongly advise you to do so.
When you don’t feel good enough inside yourself, that song is all about getting on the dance floor. The words are aimed at anyone who is lacking confidence, and they suggest that icons with attitude have always gone out and done their thing—and that you can, too.
Do you have any doubts? Don’t believe it’s that simple? Don’t know how to dance or even enjoy it?
I understand. But, before you discard this step, consider what got me started on the path to striking my stance anytime I felt my confidence was slipping and I needed a pick-me-up.
I was a young company executive trying to stay afloat during a particularly trying period of combining with another team. Moments before I was to face a boardroom full of fate-deciders, my paths crossed with an older, wiser “been around the block” star.
This nice lady revealed with me her method of exuding confidence even in her most fearful situations.
Are you prepared?
You execute what she dubbed “the Wonder Woman posture” in the elevator, hallway, or bathroom on your way to whatever it is that has shaken your faith in yourself and your skills (works no matter how you self-identify).
Simply put, you stand tall, take up some space, place one hand on each hip, tilt your chin upward, breathe in deeply, and be present. Maintain this position for a few minutes. It’s one of social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s power points.
This Harvard professor, bestselling author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, and TED Talk speaker has inspired millions with strategies to tap into our power and boost our confidence. You’d be in excellent company if you tried it.
Beyoncé is a master at it.
Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde, a French politician, lawyer, and European Central Bank president, does it.
Cuddy’s research reveals why it works.
According to her research, our attitudes generally follow our behaviors, which means that imitating the body language of a powerful person can make anyone feel more confident.
Step 4: Simply state “No.”
When you lose your confidence, you’ve given up control. And saying the two-letter word NO is one of the quickest ways to reclaim your control.
This is going to take some time to master. What’s more, guess what? You did the same thing when you lost faith in yourself. Return to the first step in this article. To destroy your self-confidence, each of those examples needed time and, yes, practice. So, now that you’ve identified which ones are negatively affecting your self-esteem, let’s get to work on repairing your self-esteem.
Begin with a modest project. Is your psyche suffering as a result of your social media scrolling? Simply say “no” to it. Take a break from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever it is that you are engrossed in.
You have the option of allowing that noise into your life or not. Prioritizing yourself by saying “no” to responding to other people’s postings is something you can control and has a big payback.
What if you’ve discovered that your lack of confidence is directly linked to your age? It’s no secret that bias and ageism exist, as well as a widely held belief that you’re either too old or too young to participate in certain hobbies or learn new skills.
But here’s what I’ve realized: we all believe that the decade before us was easier and that we were somehow better, smarter, and faster. Some of it may be correct, but not all of it.
Say no to focusing on what you believe you can’t do or can’t perform as well as you once could. Put your efforts into everything you know, everything you’ve done, the wisdom you’ve obtained, and the talents you’ve learned. Tell your inner voice “No” every time it criticizes you. Thank you, but you’re incorrect, and here’s why…”
At least once a day, practice saying “no.” It could be in response to your inner critical voices of doubt, or it could be in response to the external circumstances you’ve identified as causing you to lose confidence. It, together with the other solutions, are really effective in recovering your self-assurance.
It is natural to lose faith in oneself. It has happened to me on several occasions.
If you question the individuals closest to you in your life—the ones who appear to be so confident on the outside—I’m sure they’ll shrug and nod, letting you know that they, too, have struggled with self-doubt and a loss of confidence. It’s just a part of being human and going through life.
Remember, though, Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous comment, credited to her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“Without your permission, no one can make you feel lesser.”
You get to make the decision. You have complete control at all times. Keep in mind who you are. Strike a position and simply tell whatever is weighing you down, “no.”
So, what exactly am I looking for? What is one small move you will take today to begin the process of regaining your confidence?