Life has recently been slapping me round the face and calling me bad names. Like “ninnymuggins” and “poopmeister”.
Sometimes life gets more serious and sends something big your way that can rock you to your core, and when it’s not doing that it’ll regularly throw things at you to test you and your confidence. In these times it’s perfectly natural for your confidence to vanish quicker than a pot of taxpayer’s cash in an investment bank.
It’s scary when your confidence goes, isn’t it? You wonder why it is that you still can’t figure this shit out, those old, familiar doubts fly around in your mind, you beat yourself up (more than usual) and you talk yourself round in circles.
Here’s what to do when you’ve lost your self-confidence.
1. De-dramify it.
When you feel your self-confidence vanish you might mutter the exact same words as a tiny nun at a penguin shoot – “Shit, I’m screwed.”
You’re facing a tough situation with zero confidence and yes, holy mother of God is that ever scary.
But as long as you stay in the drama of the situation – the buttock clenching, throat drying, stomach dropping, heart racing drama of it all – that’s all you’ll experience.
By all means keep rolling around in the drama. It can even feel kind of good to put yourself in the centre of your own drama, just like you see on TV or one of those talking pictures they make these days. But that can only last so long, and the drama only serves to polarise your experience as a negative one.
You need to de-dramify it. That’s a Steve-ism.
Take a breath. Notice that you’re in the drama of the situation. Notice that your perception is coming from a place where your experience is heightened and magnified to make events seem more powerful than you are.
Once you’ve noticed where you are and what your experience is you have a choice about what happens next. Check out the expertly drawn picture right here. Purty, ain’t it.
The drama’s right there at the bottom, and your job is to step up and out of the drama and be ready to let go of all the stuff that reminds you how big, scary or challenging things are right now.
Step above the problem and the details and specifics of the situation, because those things will only take you back down to the drama. Everything below that line works as a vicious circle – focus on the problem and it’s easy to wrapped up in the drama and details. Focus on the details and it’ll keep you rooted in the problem.
Below that line is where Fox News viewers live. Shudder.
So your aim is to get above that orange line, because it’s only there that you can feel okay about things. It’s when you’re above the line, looking at the solution and the vision, that you can normalise things, make it okay to be where you are and say,
“Okay, I get that it’s scary but I’m pretty bright and I know I can figure this out. Now, what’s a way I can be okay with this? Even better, what’s a good win for me here?”
2. Take off your running shoes.
It’s easy to run away.
Running away gives you an instant pay-off – a sense of relief and a sense of being safe that can make running away seem pretty compelling.
It seems especially compelling when you’re standing there without any confidence, wondering just how the hell you’re going to move forwards. In no time at all you can turn round, run and be back under the duvet in time for Deal or No Deal. Turning round and walking away is the no-brainer, no-risk thing to do.
Of course, it’s also the no-success thing to do, so it’s important you’re aware of the pull that turning away has, and the true cost of that course of action.
This is about making a deliberate choice to begin.
You’re a living, breathing, conscious individual, so switch off the auto-pilot and recognise that to get anywhere with anything you need to make a conscious choice to start.
It’s a choice you can only make when you’re out of the drama and aware of what’s in play, and there are 3 things you need to remember when making it:
- You’ll never get to 100% with something unless you’re willing to go from 0% to 99% first.
- You have to engage with the things that matter to you.
- You haven’t even touched the edges of your capability.
3. Raid your toolbox.
Your capability is vast.
I know people like me – i.e. coaches – are supposed to spew trite remarks like that all the time, but as a confidence coach who’s known for not playing up to the Fluffy Side, it’s not something I say lightly or without thought.
Yeah, I get that sometimes it’s easy to shrug comments like this off, and I get that it’s easy to intellectually acknowledge the fact that you’re hugely capable, but how often have you felt it?
I’d bet that it’s not very often you feel that potential in your bones. I’d bet that you’ve all too rarely connected with your own untouched capacity for Doing Great Things.
It’s there all the same, and it’s by using everything you’ve got – all the things in your toolbox – that you can get through those times when you feel like your confidence has vanished. And you won’t just “get through”, you’ll storm through.
I’m talking about your values, talents and strengths, the triumvirate of assets that allow you to explore that capability and – when you feel how real they are – to move forwards with a degree of confidence in yourself. Not using your values, talents and strengths is like a fireman trying to put out a blaze with his spit when his fire engine is parked right there.
And that, my friends, takes us to the very centre of it.
If you’d already done and succeeded at everything there would be little that would phase you, right? But the reality is that you can’t have confidence in every situation you find yourself in for the simple reason that you haven’t done and succeeded at everything in the world (yet).
There will always be situations where it feels like you have no confidence, but following this 1, 2, 3 connects you with a confidence in yourself, even if you’re in uncharted territory and quietly shaking in your shoes.
As the 3rd Principle of Self-Confidence says, Being Truly Confident Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Not Be Confident, or in other words this is why you can find confidence even in those moments when your confidence disappears.
What do you think? What’s your experience when your confidence vanishes?
Let me know.