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Confidence occurs when we can manage the conversation in our brain.   You have the choice to speak to the self-doubt in a way that moves you to confidence. Confidence is developed by reflecting on past successes and our strengths as we approach a new or unfamiliar experience.   I commonly hear my clients express a desire for improved confidence.  The erosion of confidence can come from one of two places.  The first is the brain and the second is from those in power.

What can we do to address the mind? It first starts with recognizing that emotions are a thing, not a truth.  In other words, just because you feel something does not make it true.  For example, you may feel like you are failing, yet all the evidence from reliable sources tells you otherwise.  Your boss is delighted.  Your clients are satisfied and your family thinks you are fulfilling your role.   The phenomenon of allowing our emotions to inform our view of reality is called “Affective Realism” You can read all about this research in the book “How Emotions Are Made” by Lisa Feldman Barrett.

What can we do about those in power? In my professional and educational life, those in power had a great influence on my confidence.  If I was told excellent job my confidence soared, if I heard the opposite my confidence dipped.  It is important to keep two things in mind.  First, the words from those in power are only given the power that we allow.  Yes, they have a high responsibility to not misuse the power, yet we have the choice to ‘take it all in’ and personalize it or to keep it out there and evaluate its truth.  Second, it is important to consider the sender of the feedback.  An anonymous negative review ought to be less relevant, than a trusted person providing feedback.

The implications of this topic is critical.  First, if you are in power be mindful of your words and emotions. Your words carry weight by the power you hold.  Second, allow your emotions to exist but interrogate the validity. Thirdly, be thoughtful of the power you give others.  Fourth, it is often helpful to write down your thoughts vs. allowing your thoughts to take over your brain.