I’ve been coaching for a few years now, and the biggest thing I’ve learned – both for me and for my clients – is that inner confidence is the key to a happy and successful life.
There are all kinds of strategies, ways of thinking, patterns of behavior 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. Independently of all external circumstances, beyond all expectations of others.
The trick is that it takes courage to connect with who you truly are, to discover it and to put it out there.
Here are the two keys to real inner confidence.
1. Get to know your values
Personal values are a big passion of mine. They are one of the most important things you can discover about yourself and they are vital in boosting your self-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 your identity. A value is something in yourself, in others or in the world that’s most important to you, and could include things like beliefs, 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.
Do 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 honored, and you can get more of that by living according to them.
When you get to know your values, you can start to make choices and align your life around them. You become more aware of what values are triggered in moments of frustration, which in turn gives you a different perspective. You will also create experiences more intentionally aligned with your values. If you pay attention to your values, you will also make more conscious decisions or make choices that are better aligned with them. Because you get to know your values better and thereby discover more aspects of yourself, you will also realize a greater appreciation for yourself.
2. Exercise the self-confidence muscle
Self-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 self-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 self-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 you take, the less confident you need to be and so the less confident you become.
To work your self-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 self-confidence you’ll develop.
The question is, what are you going to do to exercise this muscle?”