If you have lost confidence in yourself and your abilities – you are not alone.
Most people experience a bout of low confidence or low self-esteem at some point in their career. Bad workplace experiences like failed or difficult projects, a high pressure environment, intimidating or demanding bosses, moving into a new role and even personal life issues can all eat away at your confidence. Nobody is completely immune to these types of situations.
Slight dips in confidence are completely normal and most people can push through them, however when you lose your self-belief and start sinking into a negative cycle of feeling unworthy, unable or believing that you’re a failure then you need to stop and take control of the situation.
Acute low confidence is very destructive. Not only will it affect your performance at work and prevent you from achieving your goals, but it can also have a butterfly effect causing issues in your home and personal life. Restoring your confidence is about changing your mindset. There is no panacea as changing your mindset takes determination and persistence however these few strategies, when practiced regularly, will help.
Skills confidence assessment
This is particularly useful when you start doubting your abilities to perform your job effectively, or when you are moving into a completely new role. Write down a list of all the skills you believe you need in order to fulfil your job requirements. If you have a job description then you can reference it, alternatively think about all the tasks you do on a daily basis. Don’t spend too much time creating the list, it is purely about what the job entails. Only after you have written down all the skills do you go back and analyse each one and check your ability to fulfil it. For some skills it might simply be a tick to say “yes I can do that”, for others you may need to look back to your previous experience, or even look outside of work to say “yes I have sufficient experience”. The whole objective is to prove to yourself that you able to meet the requirements of your job.
The objective is to look at all the things you are proud of, not necessarily awards or trophies. Think about projects you have pulled off, positive feedback from managers, tasks that you thought would be difficult but you managed them anyway and even things you have achieved in your personal life. The desired outcome from this activity is to prove to yourself that you have had success in the past, and that you can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it.
Challenging your negative beliefs
We all have a constant running commentary in our minds and when we are feeling low these voices are almost always negative. For instance when you trying something new, your inner voice will tell you not to be stupid, that it won’t work. In order to restore your confidence, you need to challenge your negative beliefs. The first step is to become aware of these negative beliefs. What stories are you constantly telling yourself? Write them down and disprove them. For instance if you constantly think “I always fail”, think about it. Is it really true? Have you never succeeded at anything? Once you have challenged the negative belief and proved it wrong, cross it out and turn it into a positive statement, for instance “I always achieve when I put my mind to it”. As you go through the day every time you have a negative thought – stop; challenge it and then turn it into a positive statement.
Start being grateful
Practising gratitude is a powerful tool. With daily practice it helps change a negative mindset into a positive one. First thing in the morning list 5 things that you are grateful for. It may be as simple as being alive to having an awesome supportive family. Then in the evening just before bed list another 5 things that you are grateful for. Reflect on your day and express gratitude for all the good things that happened.
Act as if
Restoring your confidence can take time, particularly when you have hit rock bottom. Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. I know that it can temporarily make you feel like a fraud as your internal voice is screaming at you that you are not being true to yourself. Just remember that that negative little voice is a liar. So how do you act as if? Well think of a really confident person that you admire and how they would behave. What do you think their self-talk is? How to they present themselves to others? Then act as if you were that confident person. Take on the behaviours, attitudes and self-talk you think they have and be that confident person even if it is just for a short period of time. The funny thing about the mind is that it doesn’t distinguish fantasy from reality. If you continue to act as if on a regular basis, your mind will soon start believing that it is true of you.