A Coaching Power Tool By Camilla Born, Success Coach, HONG KONG
When you have confidence you can do anything. Sloane Stevens
The Key to Confidence vs. Self Doubt
The definition of confidence is to have confidence in oneself and one’s power and abilities.
Confidence is the key to opening a world of possibilities. Confidence gives individuals the positive energy to take action and thus in turn achieve their personal and professional goals, hopes, and dreams. The more highly motivated and energized a person is the more likely they are to take action and have greater levels of happiness.
The key to confidence is authenticity, the ability to be oneself. However, on the flip side of confidence is self-doubt. Self-doubt is defined as a lack of faith in oneself. A feeling of doubt or uncertainty about one’s abilities, actions, etc.
We all have our inner critics or self-saboteurs. This leads to a lack of confidence, as over time we start to believe these negative thoughts or voices in our heads. We become convinced that this voice is true and start to act upon this information. This self-doubt can lead to avoidance, procrastination, fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of rejection, and feelings of overwhelm. This self-doubt also leads to the need to compare ourselves to others. However, we often compare our internal narratives to other people’s external appearance, failing to comprehend that the vast majority of people are also fighting their own internal battles.
How to Be Confident in Life
So how can we switch or change our perspective from a thinking pattern of self-doubt to that of self-confidence?
This report aims to outline a case study from my 20 plus years in education, the importance of moving from a fixed mindset (those who believe that abilities are fixed are less likely to flourish) to a growth mindset(those who believe that abilities can be developed).
I also aim to examine coaching questions that can question self-doubt and build self-confidence. Lastly, I aim to outline some strategies for building confidence outside of a coaching session.
Confidence vs. Self Doubt Case Study
During my 20 plus year career teaching high school students English as a Second Language, I have lost count of the number of students who have told me “they are no good at English” and will never be able to pass their English GCSE or other exams. Much of my time in the classroom has been focused on building self-confidence, self-belief, and self-esteem which in turn has most importantly led to elevated levels of happiness, self-worth, academic success, and of course, confidence.
One particular student stands out in my mind (his name has not been given to protect his identity) His belief that he was so “bad” at English was incredibly strong through his fixed mindset and he truly believed that he could not learn the language. His self-doubt was showing up as fear of failure and causing him to procrastinate which in turn was making life at school challenging as he was failing to produce his homework on time.
As his language teacher, I created mini-goals so that he could not lose. For example, he had ten new words to learn that week for the following week. We would not have a test to consolidate these words but a game.
With time, he started to look forward to the lessons and of course the games. All the time, the mini-goals were increasing and success coupled with confidence was growing. However, when his English exam loomed on the horizon, he started to listen to the inner critic in his head again and believed that he was not capable of passing the exam.
This coincided with my journey with ICA and I was able to use a wide variety of coaching tools and techniques that I had learned. Some of the most successful techniques were reframing his perspectives, helping him to see things differently, and to come to more empowering conclusions. Things that had seemed impossible now seemed possible. Another useful technique was visualization, we spent time visualizing passing his exam and imagining what success would look like. We also talked about catching those negative emotions when they came up, recognizing them, naming them, and then replacing them with more positive thoughts. During our coaching sessions, we would also talk about the emotions he was experiencing and he was able to recognize his self-doubt and see how it was showing up for him. We also used Positive Psychology in our sessions and focussed on creating meaningful goals to strive for. We spent time on what was working well in his life and talked about positive experiences. Finally, we focussed on how he could have a more optimistic view of his future. He passed his exam with flying colors and he expressed that coaching had led to a greater level of self-awareness, it had assisted in his levels of motivation and acceptance that we all have good days and bad days. He also learned to accept that failure was not necessarily a bad thing but an opportunity to learn. He also learned to embrace the power of positivity. He has applied this learning to his wider life and as a result, he is a much more confident and happier individual.
Questions That Can Be Used in the Coaching Conversation to Build Confidence
- What does confidence look like to you?
- What three things could you do now to start being that confident person?
- What internal negative tapes might you be listening to?
- What steps could you take to be kinder to yourself?
- What are you most proud of about yourself?
- What three things could you do to start being that proud person?
- What unhelpful thoughts might you like to drop?
- What positive thoughts might you dare to believe about yourself?
- If you knew everything was going to be ok, what first step would you take?
Ideas for Maintaining and Growing Confidence Outside of a Coaching Session
One of the most effective tools that I have used with my students is the TGT (three good things) exercise. This has been proven to increase their positive emotions. This practice of three good things has been proven to increase happiness, hope, and optimism and thus in turn confidence.
This tool was developed by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of “Positive Psychology”. The instructions are quite simple. Each night set aside 10 minutes after dinner and before going to bed. Write down three good things which happened today and next to each positive event, ask the question “why did this happen?”.
Another way to build confidence outside of a coaching session is to get things done. Confidence is built on accomplishment. As mentioned earlier, breaking tasks down into smaller bite-sized chunks is a good way to avoid procrastination and stop self-doubt from creeping in. If a person achieves both smaller tasks and then builds up to larger tasks, they are going to feel better about themselves.
Exercise also builds confidence. Apart from the obvious health benefits, exercise assists in memory retention improve focus, helps to manage stress, and helps to prevent depression.
Finally, try to make time for more of what makes you happy. Whatever you love try to make time for it. People need time to enrich their lives and recharge to be the best versions of themselves.
How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself & Have Confidence vs. Self Doubt
Confidence is not necessarily a permanent state as everyone will get knocked and have low confidence at some stage in their life. Over time we can identify thoughts that are sabotaging us and formulate an action plan on how to deal with these thoughts.
Confidence is like a muscle that needs constant training over some time to develop and become stronger.
Confident people are in control of their emotional responses in terms of whatever life may throw at them.
This mindset can be deeply liberating especially in the current world climate when so many aspects are out of our control.
Shakespeare said that Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so” When those self-doubts creep in, this is a very useful quote to conjure up.
Confident people know where they are aiming for. They have goals and they know their values in life. Every step they take towards a goal is in line with who they are as a person and is in line with their values.