Simply defined – confidence is a belief in yourself.
I used to be so shy and fearful. As a young child, my mother insisted that I be the one to call the local community centre to find out the opening hours for the skating rink. I was terrified. I thought to myself, “Who do I call? what do I say?” I didn’t know what to do. She told me to figure it out.
I also used to be intimidated when I had to travel somewhere to an appointment or a class, and I had never been there. What if I got lost? How would I find my way?
At work, early in my career, I was the General Manager’s secretary, and, in his absence, the managers would ask me questions that they would normally ask of him. I was always able to answer them, but I felt unworthy and uncomfortable – “I’m just his secretary.”
Growing up in an environment that was emotionally abusive magnified my fear, my insecurities and definitely my lack of confidence. I was too busy dodging negativity and living in survival mode that I was unable to build any confidence until I left home as a teenager. Even then, it took several more years to find some form of stability, so I could start to grow.
Looking back at those times, I realize that I did have something to be confident about. I had resilience, resourcefulness, an aptitude for leadership and a combined personal drive with tons of energy to make it to the next day.
We all have something to be confident about.
It takes a desire for self-awareness to uncover it.
Here are some of the steps I took with the help of professionals, life experience and a desire for a happier life.
- I kept a journal of all the negative messages I grew up with and decided that I didn’t agree with them. I replaced them with more positive ones.
For example, I spent hours as a 10-year-old, shoveling snow off the driveway, so my parents wouldn’t have to when they got home from work. My Dad thanked me. My mom got mad because the kitchen wasn’t cleaned and never mentioned the driveway. I chose to acknowledge the effort I did put in and accepted that I only had time to do one chore. I knew I was proud of myself.
- I had a huge curiosity to learn what I needed to know. I was still hesitant to go into unfamiliar territory; however, I didn’t want that to hold me back. I became resourceful and researched before I ventured out. Not unlike when you start a new job, someone trains you on where to find information and how to use the tools you are expected to work with. I believe that as parents, we can set our kids up for success by guiding them and supporting them as they learn how to navigate life.
- Over time, experience gave me confidence. I have had some great accomplishments throughout my career that to this day I am still very proud of them. I laugh now, as I recall my lack of confidence, preventing me from accepting praise and recognition for my skills. Learning and applying new skills and knowledge gave me increased confidence.
- Working with a Mentor was really helpful. A mentor can be anyone who has more knowledge and expertise than you do in a given area. My mentors have been my boss, counselors or work colleagues. They provided a ‘frame of reference’ that at the time, I didn’t have. They provided knowledge and coaching. They supported me and believed in me and guided me down the right path for me.
- I’m a results-oriented individual who sets goals for myself. I started with very small goals eventually building up to more complex ones. I achieved them and kept going. Although it felt good, I never allowed those feelings to sink in. It took me many years, with the help of others, to ‘stop and smell the roses,’ meaning I acknowledged the skills I had, the contribution I made to the company I worked for and the specific effort it took for me to do what I had to do. I never felt worthy of those thoughts back then.
I built confidence in my skills and knowledge which helped to increase my confidence. It wasn’t enough. It was a great start. In two weeks, I will share the next steps of building my confidence.
The journey continues…