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Q: any advice on how to build self-belief and self-confidence?

Self-belief and Self-confidence


This is a really interesting question and one that I think more people would like to know the answer to than would admit. The social media fuelled world we live in we all see far too many “perfect” people with “perfect lives”. What we can’t always see for ourselves is that these images, videos and accounts are just as false and fake as a Hollywood movie. That has a big effect on us psychologically and can truly affect our self-belief and self-confidence.

The honest truth is that almost all of us (stand fast the narcisists) have self-doubt at some points in our life. It may only be before the big interview or before the first sky-dive, but we still have them. That’s natural, it’s human. The problem, is when self-doubt starts to creep in more often than not. If it starts to spiral out of control, that’s when it must be crushed.

Overcoming Self Doubt

  1. Realisation. The first step is realisation. Knowing thyself and recognising that there is or could be self-doubt issues. The person writing the question here has done that. This might be a problem each and every day or just at certain times: when going on a date or job interviews or public speaking etc. Again, we all have things that cause us to question our self-confidence and raise our self-doubt. Recognising them gives us a chance to stop them.
  2. Say no! The ability to say no is an important one in life, we all need to be able to say no. Practice it daily. It’s ok to do it. More importantly, its ok to do it to your self-doubt. See it coming and say no. Internally, in your head, do not allow this to happen. Stop it as soon as you recognise it.
  3. Trust the past. We have all had doubts and fears over our lives. Sometimes they are justified to protect us from death or simply embarrassing situations. However, these thoughts and fears start to become debilitating when they stop us from attempting things that could help us improve in love and life, thus when we face something and self-doubt kicks in we need to remember a similar circumstance when we faced a similar situation and things were fine. Our worst fears didn’t materialise. We were fine. Our doubts weren’t warranted. Every time you face something that is likely to cause you self-doubt (interview, first dates, public speaking, courses, auditions etc) think of a few examples of success from these things. When self-doubt creeps in, say no (point 2) and then think of those past successes.
  4. “No Compare”. We’ve all seen the “Go compare, Go compare” advert with the guy with the big moustache singing “Go compare, go compare”, well, I’m changing the lyrics. I want you to sing “No compare, no compare” whenever you see someone else’s life that you want to compare yours too. Social media is hell for people with self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence. I personally followed my own advice from my blog post Social Media Selfish when I found myself being negatively affected by other peoples perfect physiques and lives (and the work they were supposedly getting) as they showed on social media. Comparing yourself to others lives, whether real or fake, is unhealthy. Only compare to yourself, where you were a week ago, a year ago and how far you have come. Remember “No compare, no compare”.
  5. People don’t care. We all think everyone is watching us or looking at us or if we do or say something stupid they are talking about it that evening and a week later. Not so. People are as wrapped up in themselves as we are all wrapped up in ourselves. I used to really struggle with getting new gym users into the gym, they were too worried about what others would think and that people would be watching them learning new things. Not so, look around the gym. They are full of mirrors and 90% of people there are looking in them, at themselves. The same is true if you mess up or make a mistake. You remember it for weeks to come, probably play it over in your head (I know I do) but others don’t. They forget within a day, maybe even an hour. Other people are worried about their sh!t and what other people think of them, they really don’t have time to be worrying about you.
  6. Not everything is about you. You didn’t get the job. You didn’t get the second date. You didn’t get the promotion. We always look to ourselves and what we did wrong. That’s as ludicrous as blaming ourselves when we didn’t win the lottery. It’s always more complicated than we know. A second date may never have been on the cards as the first date was just for them to realise they wanted the ex back. It was never about you. You were never going to get that job as they were interviewing externally to reach quotas. You have to understand the world is bigger than you, so you can’t control most of what happens. Control what you can: prepare, plan and be a good human, when things don’t work out, roll with it.
  7. Give yourself a break. You are doubting yourself. Fine. It happens. Recognise it. Say no and do something about it. But don’t get angry at yourself for it. it doesn’t help. Think of yourself like a puppy. You peed in the house. Oh well. Let’s just clean it up and try to work on not doing it again. But getting angry will just make you crawl inside yourself. Don’t let the self-doubt win, think of a positive time, work through it and don’t get angry.
  8. Everything is temporary. It’s hard to accept, but everything is temporary in life. Our lives themselves are. If you make a mistake so what? No-one, NO-ONE succeeded without making a mistake, without failing something. Failure is necessary to grow and learn. Accept it and let it go. There’s actually always way more to learn from mistakes and failure than from success, so see mistakes and failures as a pro. Learn from them! When you make a mistake ask yourself two things:
    1. What have I learned from this failure/mistake?
    2. What other opportunities have come about from it?
  9. Talk about it. A problem shared and all that. If you have feelings of self-doubt speak to a friend, partner or colleague about them. Getting them out in the open can help. The person you share them with may help you see that your fears aren’t warranted and that you have the skills etc to be confident. Equally, they may call you an idiot and not want to give you their time. This is also a help, you can then choose to see that your fears, when spoken aloud, aren’t justified. They really are imaginary problems of self-doubt.
  10. Train, plan and prepare. One of the best ways to quash self-doubt is to give yourself confidence by planning, preparing and learning. If you have knowledge on a subject and a plan of action for your success you gain so much confidence in your abilities to succeed. Even if you can’t do much learning, training or gain a qualification in something, practising and planning whatever the task at hand is will wholeheartedly help with your self-confidence. Having said that, you have to be flexible. The best plans need to change and will have issues that mean they don’t work. This can cause some people to begin that self-doubt spiral. There’s no need for that. The best military planners in the world know that their plans will change, but a plan to start with is better than no plan at all.
  11. Celebrate the little things. If you complete something you’ve set out to do, no matter how small, allow yourself to self congratulate yourself. The first time going to the gym for a whole week, celebrate with a small favourite snack (but not a whole tub of ice cream!), the first step to creating a new business, take the evening off and watch a movie. Giving yourself the okay to celebrate these small victories is a great way to realise that you are confident and successful in your own right and that self-doubt really isn’t warranted.
  12. Exercise. Exercise is a great leveller. It brings you back to reality. It gives you time to think clearly and it allows you to celebrate a little success: completing the exercise session. It may be a run, a swim, a press-up pyramid, a gym session from one of my programmes. It doesn’t matter. Exercise is good for the mind, the body and the soul. Even a 30 minute mobility and stretch session can do wonders for positivity. Don’t underestimate the help a regular exercise regime can have on self-esteem. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and confidence simply because of the hormones and chemicals it produces. For a host of exercise programmes, from gym beginner to marathon training, have a look at my myriad of programmes.
  13. Nutrition. Bad food choices, excess alcohol, not enough water and cutting Calories all have negative impacts on our psychology. We are animals at the end of the day and our brains work on hormones and other chemicals; when they become imbalanced by nutritional factors or lack of, it badly affects our mood and self-esteem. Grab a copy of my nutrition book Successful Eating to understand what your body needs and ensure your poor nutritional choices aren’t a big part of the problem.

Confidence

Like many things in this world, the reality we live in is actually created in our minds. If we change our minds, we can change our reality. The worry and self-doubt issues we all have come from how we view ourselves, the people around us, and how they see us, and the overall world we live in. The steps above should help us create a more positive space for self-doubt to dissipate and self-confidence to thrive.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

Out now: Successful Eating
Plus: Pass the PRMC