A coaching conversation about being honest with yourself
Have you ever dreaded speaking in public or wondered what people thought about a presentation or review you gave? Has the fear of judgment taken over your ability to make decisions before? Is your self-confidence something that needs some fine-tuning and rebalancing? If so, it’s essential to recognize your inner critic and take steps to confront those negative thoughts. They don’t control you. You control them. The question is how.
Confidence is a transformative inner feature that helps us empower our ability and desire to achieve. It enables you to overcome difficulties through reasoning while helping you take actions logically. It’s a resource that is either used too much or too little, and it can create a reality that is either empowered or illusory.
So, should I work to become more confident or avoid being overconfident?
Think of both as the same. Work to examine your confidence levels for any given situation.
We label our confidence as an overall measured trait. When we see someone perform well in a meeting, we naturally think their confidence levels are high, and when we hear someone stumbling through a conversation, we often perceive them as lacking confidence. These over-arching convictions we create make some deep assumptions about single scenarios and convince us that confidence is either something people have or don’t have. That’s not the case. Confidence isn’t a one-and-done tool; it’s a topic-based, environmental concept filled with layers of deeper inner conversations. To say that it solely is had or isn’t had mischaracterizes how one should approach it.
Okay, I can get behind that. Now, how do I improve my confidence on those topics I’m unsure about?
That sounds like a great logical question to ask your inner self. Bring that inner voice into this conversation and note how it consistently criticizes what you do, how you look, how you sound, and how you’re perceived. Does it ever compliment you much internally? Odds are it doesn’t. Your inner critic is hard on you to the point that you often develop limiting beliefs based on what it is “loudly” screaming at you. It’s time to silence that inner jerk and examine what you’re saying to yourself.
If your inner critic tells you that you’re being judged harshly by others or that something you’ve done isn’t good enough, is it possible that your brain is trying to tell you to learn from an experience or moment? Why not try removing the criticisms and turning them into questions to improve?
Say, for example, that you’re giving a presentation to coworkers about a particular topic, and you’re nervous. It seems to go well, but afterward, you start to think about the lack of audience participation and the blank stares you were getting throughout. This makes you wonder if your delivery could have been better and if you presented the information in an absorbable way. Your inner critic starts to tell you everything, from the wrinkles in your shirt to the inflection in your voice, was just not good enough. Instead of listening to that negativity, why not use it as an opportunity to ask yourself, “How can I improve my presentations for next time?” Eventually, that thought should also prompt the question, “What is my delivery goal for the next presentation?” These questions help you overcome that inner critic while empowering you to be more confident. A lack of confidence comes from a lack of preparation or understanding, so if you tackle each experience with “what did I learn” and “how can I improve for next time,” you become mentally stronger to take on your barriers.
That makes sense. Is there something else I can do to improve my confidence levels?
Yes. Plenty. It would help if you refined your question, though. If you’re saying you generally have low confidence, you’re speaking about an over-arching theme with no detail. Clarify what you want to improve your confidence on.
Okay, fine. How can I get better at that presentation example you gave before?
Surround yourself with the right people.
Right. Because my friends will cheer me on and always tell me I’m great no matter what.
Your real friends and truly caring coworkers will be the ones who cheer you on but also offer you constructive feedback. A support system isn’t just sugarcoating your performance; it helps you explore what you’re doing and go to the next level. It’s the same reason you appreciate a boss or manager who talks you through a problem and supports you to overcome it. They’re in it with you, and it helps you grow. If you don’t have a circle of close friends in your personal life and coworkers in your work life who can give you encouragement with honest feedback, you should focus on finding them. Confidence also comes from the ability to have conversations for growth in an environment of support. No one ever fully trusts the leaders who are out for themselves or the friends who constantly gossip.
There you go getting all deep again, Coach. What else ya got on this confidence-building?
Once you’ve identified a positive support system and practiced the ability to see opportunity, confidence naturally grows through embracing acceptable risk and learning from experience. The one other piece of the puzzle when it comes to building confidence is self-care. It’s similar to silencing that inner critic and creating questions that focus on what you’ve learned. The more you can give your mind, body, and inner being clarity and peace, the better you’ll perform and the more confident you’ll become.
Self-care mostly comes in the form of replacing negatively impacting habits with positive ones. Look at this list of negative patterns that can transform into positive habits below:
(Stop doing these)
|Related Positive Habits|
(Do these instead)
|Binge-watching TV shows late at night.||Get to bed early so you can get a full night’s rest and wake up early.|
|Eating fast food 3-4 times a week.||Practice meal-prepping at home.|
|Gossiping about celebrities or random people.||Seeking mentorship from peers and creatively thinking of ideas to expand your mind.|
|Watching TikTok videos or IG Reels for an hour.||Exercise.|
|Complaining about things in your life.||Practicing gratitude about things in your life.|
|Overthinking about what to do.||Taking action.|
|Placing blame on others.||Accepting responsibility and accountability.|
The first four rows show how poor habits focus on running away from self-care. The last three rows show how poor habits limit someone’s ability to be in a growth mindset. If you focus on the things listed in the right column, you will naturally become more confident because the care for yourself will match the effort put into what you do.
Woah Coach, I saw a video about micro-learning and how effective it can be. TikTok, IG Reels, and all the stuff I watch helps me decompress, learn, and stay connected.
While that’s a more profound topic for a different conversation, the question isn’t whether those videos “teach” you something or keep you “connected.” It’s if you can be doing something more constructive with your time that helps you build up your positive self-care. Ultimately, the goal is to help you with actions that improve confidence on specific topics. There’s no denying that the actions in the right column would help you feel better, present better, and perform better. The only thing that stops you from acting on them is you.
Wait, what about overconfidence? Am I at risk of that?
Overconfidence is a matter of self-honesty. If you define yourself as highly confident in a category and use language that explains the impossibility of additional growth, you’re likely not being honest with yourself. There is no such thing as being perfect because perfection precludes the ability to grow. When describing yourself as excellent, if you can still speak on ways to further fortify your skill/knowledge, you likely have a more realistic definition of your confidence. If you feel you’re at the top level and there is no possibility of growing further, you are likely over-confident, resulting in different deeply-impacting, potential breakdowns later.
Okay, so to be more confident, I should be prepared, change what my inner critic is saying, surround myself with a positive support system, be honest, and focus on positive habits. All this sounds like a lot of work.
What you’re perceiving as a lot of work is just a signal that you want to make a change to improve your mindset. Sometimes, we see the feeling of being overwhelmed as this opposing force, but it’s just your brain trying to tell you that some of your habits need refining. Think about the right column in that list above again. How is any of it “a lot” if it’s all focused on making your life better? Rewire your brain to stop focusing on the negative thoughts and see the positive potential. To quote a famous movie sage, “Do or do not, there is no try.” If you want to feel positive, happy, and confident, all you need to do is focus on the opportunities to make your best situation come to life. Confidence comes from staying solution-oriented, so if you’re not feeling confident about something, adjust your mindset first and watch your ability to shine increase exponentially.