Mama Grow | 5 Keys You Can Use Today to Build Your Confidence

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Confidence is the secret sauce in life. It’s the one ingredient that can set you apart and really change your life and your prospects. 

So why is it so freaking hard? 

I’ve been doing a lot of learning around this very subject lately. It seems that not only is there a physical component to confidence (some people are literally genetically programmed that way) but there’s also a huge social component - to do with your upbringing and environment. A lot of this - mainly the societal part - actually makes it harder to be confident as a woman, which will surprise precisely no one female. 

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to become more confident. The great thing about brains is that they can be rewired, with the right tricks and a little patience.

For me personally, my confidence journey has been a bit of a roller coaster. 

Naturally confident as a younger child, adolescence hit me hard and made me painfully self aware for the first time. After a big wobble post-university, I slowly gained and grew in confidence again during my twenties. 

Then came having kids. 

And although it's enhanced my life in so many ways to become a mama, confidence definitely wasn’t one of them. From my body through to my career, I’ve really struggled and had to put a lot of work in since my two little people came along. The pandemic over the last couple of years and all the associated uncertainty and worry has also taken its toll.

So now I’m really focusing on trying to build myself up again. I’ve been on a mission to learn as much as I can about where true confidence comes from and how I can grow it in myself. 

And here I’m going to share the top five things you can do today to boost your own confidence - all tried and tested by yours truly.

1. Mind Your Self Talk

Much of our subjective reality is composed of a constant internal dialogue -  and, especially in women, a staggering 80 per cent of those thoughts tend to be negative

You see, I’ve learned that our brains developed to be highly effective at scanning for threats on the horizon. Back in cave-dwelling times, this was a huge plus if it meant not becoming dinner for some roving predator. Flash-forward to modern times, however, and this once-useful function causes a lot of issues. It means our brains are predisposed to spend more time dwelling on the negative -  and that can quickly spiral into a huge amount of internal self-talk about how useless we are. 

That kind of stuff is hugely damaging. 

Mind management guru Jay Shetty puts it this way - if that voice was an adult, talking to a child in a room we’d all condemn it as horrendous and abusive. Inside though, we are all emotionally children and our supposedly rational adult voice of the mind is something we accept as normal -  and also that we can’t escape. 

Huge changes can be made simply by reprogramming this voice to be a little more neutral. The first step is simply becoming aware. Catching yourself in those negative thoughts and acknowledging that they aren’t objective truth. No, you aren’t hideous. No, you aren’t two slip ups away from being fired. Yes, you do deserve your job. Yes, you are doing okay at the difficult job of parenting. 

Examining and eventually challenging these thoughts has huge potential for changing your sense of self. And it can start today -  this minute! 

Just making the decision to acknowledge that a thought is coming from your ‘inner bully’ and isn’t objectively true can begin the process of rewiring some of those neural networks and ultimately, giving you more confidence in yourself and your choices. 

So be kind! Remember, if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, why the hell are you saying it to yourself?

2. Follow Through

This one is hugely important and is admittedly a key one for me. I can be a little flaky. Self-discipline is something I definitely need to work on, and I’ll admit that at times I can be easily distracted and inconsistent. 

You might think this isn’t such a huge problem, but actually it can be quite damaging to the sense of self. Every time you don’t do something you said that you were going to do - whether that’s a promise to yourself you’ve gone back on, or under-delivering to someone else - your subconscious is aware, and gradually it chips away at your sense of self. 

You become someone that never follows through. Someone who talks a good game but can’t manage to deliver - and that is absolutely toxic

After all, the way you do one thing is generally the way you do everything. Rob Dial Jr, The Mindset Mentor, says that confidence is not about what other people think. In fact, it comes from showing up for yourself even when no one else does and living up to your own standards. That starts with follow-through. 

So whether it's making that 20 minutes in your day to fit in a work out, or sending someone a report at work when you said you would - following through gives you a sense of self that is vital for your confidence.

3. Do One Thing Ten Per Cent More To Get Better Results

Often we think of change as some huge, complex process that puts us off before we’ve even begun. A lot of us label ourselves as perfectionists when actually that’s just a front for procrastination - and procrastination usually comes from a fear of failure. 

The fact is, change doesn’t have to be dramatic, sudden or all encompassing. 

Instead, making effective change in your life is a story of increments. Very small things that allow you to build consistency and forge new habits over a period of time. Sure, it doesn’t sound as exciting, but it does work. 

When you make change small, you make it achievable. It also changes your mindset, proving to yourself that you are capable of doing and being better. This creates a positive momentum that spurs you on to make further changes. Sounds great, doesn’t it? 

So starting today, whatever your goal, make the decision to give ten per cent more. Just ten per cent. 

For example, if you’re running one mile a day? Now you’re running 1.1 miles. This won’t kill you, but it will change you. After all, if you’re going from one mile to 1.1 each day, that’s 26 miles extra over the course of a year. Ten percent more of anything isn’t scary, and it's achievable today. So make it happen.

4. Learn to Live With Fear

Fear is a primal emotion and it's one that lurks at the bottom of most of our negative behaviours. Everyone experiences it -  and yet, when we look at successful people, often we choose to describe them as ‘fearless’. 

That’s dead wrong. 

Successful people in any field don’t just naturally have less fear than us mere mortals. I promise. They just don’t let their fear drown out everything else. You don’t have a choice to feel fear -  you do have a choice as to whether you listen to it or not. 

Rob Diall also talks about reframing how we see fear. He speaks of fear as being a physical manifestation of the edge of our comfort zone. If you see it that way, it becomes a useful tool. It's showing you exactly where you need to push past in order to see results. 

When we encounter a fear response in our lives, instead of leaning back from it, we should run towards it. Again, it can be a small action with the potential to change our lives and it applies to every sphere of life, from applying for that promotion that scares you, to talking to a stranger at a party or trying a new gym class. Reclassify your fear as a positive sign that you have a chance to expand your comfort zone.

5. Stack Up Those Small Wins

This is one I really like, and that has made a huge difference to me personally. As I’ve said in my last Mama Grow post on dealing with a bad day, life is entirely made out of the fabric of small moments - and the more of them you can make into a positive, the rosier your life is going to be overall. 

So focus on getting in as many small wins as you can, as early on in the day as you can. 

What does that look like? For me, it all starts with waking up early. That’s a win. Then I have time to drink a bottle of water and read a chapter of my current self-help book in bed. That’s another win. Then I take the dog out for a walk. Win. Come back and do a HIIT workout. Major win. Then I have time for a shower and to get dressed nicely. Win. Then manage to squeeze in some email admin before walking my son to school. Winning. At. Life. 

It comes back to that idea of encouraging positive momentum. As soon as one small thing goes right, it's easier to gain others. When I start my day off like that, I’m much more positive. I’m not stressed and rushing, and I’ve made time for self-care and gotten on top of work before the day has even really begun. And it all starts with the small win of getting up early. 

So your wins might be different. But whatever they are, make them bite size and focus on stacking them up as early in the day as you can, because that simple and achievable action has the power to change your mood and the rest of your day. 

Of course there are going to be times when it all goes wrong. That’s just one of the ways life likes to keep us on our toes. You don’t have to be perfect (that doesn’t even exist, for starters). You just have to tip the balance so that you’re winning more than you're losing. 

Each positive ‘win’ is a vote of confidence in yourself and your abilities, and it signals to your brain that you respect yourself. So try stacking up those mini wins early doors and you’ll be feeling more confident in no time.

These keys are all small. They’re all achievable, even for time-poor working mamas and you CAN make them happen - now. So which of these keys are you going to try today?

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