I've been coaching for a few years now, and the biggest thing I've learnt - both for me and for my clients - is that inner confidence is the key to it all.
There are all kinds of strategies, ways of thinking, patterns of behaviour and practical tips for improving your life and feeling better about yourself, but they're all redundant if the foundation isn't there. That foundation is the real you, the you that you know deep down you are. The trick is that it takes confidence to find that and to bring out who you are – here are the three keys to real inner confidence.
1. Get To Know Your Values
Personal values are a big passion of mine and I often get carried away with myself when I talk about them. I make no apology for that though – they’re one of the most important things you can know about yourself and are vital in getting genuine inner confidence. Your values are ten thousand feet down inside you, right at the very core of who you are, and they’re the building blocks, the foundations and cornerstones for you. A value is something in yourself, in others or in the world that’s most important to you, and could include things like respect, progress, family, fun, nature, achievement or freedom.
Why is it that some people and situations leave you feeling angry, frustrated, demotivated or deflated? It’s because one or more of your values is being denied, suppressed or repressed – and we experience that as a negative experience because it’s denying a fundamental piece of who you are. You know those times when you’ve felt really alive, amazing or buzzing? Those are the times when one or more of your values are being honoured, and you can get more of that by living according to them.
Your values are all yours, and no matter what happens nobody can ever take them away. You can have absolute confidence in them because they’re there all the time just waiting for you to notice them and use them. When you get to know your values you can start to make choices and align your life around them – it’s so simple and it feels amazing because all that really means is that you’re allowing who you are to live in the real world.
2. Trust Yourself
People spend too much time looking for signs that they’re doing the right thing or on the right path. Sometimes we get that by hearing that we’re doing well at work, sometimes it could be encouragement from a friend or loved one, and sometimes we get that feedback by seeing our material wealth or possessions growing.
But rather than looking on the outside for those signs, how about looking on the inside at what you’re telling yourself? How about trusting yourself to do the best thing and make great choices? How about trusting your own insights and using your own intuition? I’ve seen those ideas scare the bejeezus out of people and you know why? Because it makes you accountable and responsible for what you get. If you trust yourself implicitly and you make the wrong choice you’ve got nobody else to blame.
But the fact is that we all make mistakes and we’ll all continue to make mistakes. So how would it be if you could trust yourself to get through anything and trust yourself to continue making choices that serve you well – even if sometimes you screw up? That’s the kind of trust I’m talking about, and that’s genuine inner confidence.
Start by listening to yourself and noticing what your intuition is telling you. Be aware of that little voice inside you or those gut reactions you get and pay attention to what they’re telling you. Trust yourself to make decisions, trust yourself to adapt and trust that you’re good enough to have, do or be whatever you want. True confidence will follow.
3. Exercise the Muscle
Confidence is a muscle, and like any muscle you need to exercise it so that it doesn’t shrink and waste away. The problem is that unlike your biceps or glutes, which tend to stay in the same place, your confidence muscle can be harder to find. How do you develop your biceps or firm up your glutes? By doing exercises that are designed to work that muscle over a period of time until you see the results you were looking for.
It’s just the same with confidence. Let’s say that you’re the kind of person that doesn’t take many risks. The kind of person who goes through each day doing what needs to be done and doing it well, but not really stretching yourself. You might talk yourself out of doing something because it’s too scary or because you think to yourself ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘that’s not who I am’ or ‘I don’t really want it anyway’. That kind of person lives within what they know and what keeps them safe and comfortable. The fewer risks they take, the less confident they need to be and so the less confident they become.
To work your confidence muscle you need to be prepared to take risks – big or small. You need to be willing to stretch yourself in an unfamiliar direction, to try something new or try something in a slightly different way. You need to open yourself up to the possibilities around you and push yourself to increase what you know, what you do and who you are. The more open you are to risk, opportunity and possibility the more confident you need to be, and so the more confidence you’ll develop. That’s your confidence muscle – the question is, what are you going to do to exercise it?