Confidence is a state of mind of having a belief in oneself, the conviction of having what it takes to succeed. It requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and a positive self-image without being arrogant.
Multiple factors can erode someone’s confidence. Low confidence can deter employees from proving their value, limiting their career aspirations and realizing their full potential.
A typical workplace offers many confidence drainers: A toxic culture, a controlling boss, biases and discrimination, change fatigue, unrealistic demands and expectations, etc.
There are many ways we react to our environment, depending on our mental maps and world-views. There is evidence that our thinking impacts how we feel, act, and obtain results. Positive thinking causes us to feel happier, motivated and encouraged. Negative thoughts cause us to feel the opposite, by creating self-inflicted pain, disappointment, stress, anxiety, guilt, anger, and shame.
When experiencing negative emotions, we tend to see the worst in ourselves, others, and our circumstances. Our unconscious mind patterns have their voice, beliefs, and assumptions that work against our best interests. In the Positive Intelligence framework, we call these negative patterns our Saboteurs. They work against us by constantly judging.
Our inner judge speaks to you with negative self-talk diminishing our confidence. Here are some examples of the draining impact of the negative narrative in our heads:
- I am not worthy if I fail.
- I feel invisible.
- I don’t have what it takes.
- I am flawed.
- When is the other shoe going to drop?
- I can’t trust others.
- If I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t do it.
- Mistakes are unacceptable.
- This task isn’t fulfilling.
- Why can’t anyone keep up with me?
- It bothers me when people don’t notice what I do for them.
- No one understands me.
- Terrible things always happen to me.
These thoughts compromise our general sense of well-being and erode our confidence at work. For example, you might be someone placing great importance on achieving goals to obtain self-approval and validation. Pressuring yourself to attain unrealistic standards makes you fearful of failure when you fail to implement your own plans.
Positive Intelligence framework offers a framework to deal with these negative beliefs. I am sharing three strategies to reduce your inner critic and increase your confidence.
- Become Present: No one ever got better at anything by beating themselves up. When you are aware of your thoughts, you can intercept and weaken your inner critic. The first step is taking control by admitting the eroding effect of negativity and noticing when these voices are rising in your head. Observe and label the negative thoughts or feelings when they show up. “Oh, it is my judge back saying, “I don’t have anything important to share at the meeting.”
- Occupy Your Body: Getting out of your head and into your body is the best way to quite the negative voices that cause you stress. Disarming your triggered brain requires you to switch to a calmer state where you can respond to your environment with focused attention and ease and flow. Connect to your body in the present moment by breathing intentionally. If you are sitting, notice the weight of your body in the chair. You can feel the many muscles that help you move. Tune in to the sounds around you. What is the closest sound that you can hear? Turn to the sensations of touch holding a cup and the aroma of coffee or your favorite drink. After few minutes of these practice you will feel calmer.
- Strengthen your positive self-talk: Instead of constantly feeling dragged down by your inner critic, give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be perfect, and it is ok to make mistakes from time to time. Your work demands are constantly changing, and there will be times when losing your confidence is ok. Recognize your efforts and give yourself some credit. Be willing to experiment with new behaviors, such as using positive language, staying curious instead of judging right away, practicing gratitude, and noticing your wins.
These three steps can become habits for a powerful mind to help you break the automatic mental patterns that cause you stress and anxiety. You can empathize with yourself and others to experience positive emotions here and now.
In the end, impressive qualifications and credentials are not enough to make you feel confident at work when you are constantly seeing what is wrong. You can overcome your self-defeating tendencies by weakening your inner critic and reclaiming your essence.