There are writers, composers, friends, and others who may inspire us with their courage and confidence. Inspiration serves us well but, in the end, we must draw from our own well to find our confidence, using whatever resources we have. Like riding a bicycle, experience teaches us to make mistakes and allows us to learn from them. When we wait years and years to ride a bicycle after having learned the skill, an ability to ride
may not be immediately present but it returns faster than if we had never learned to ride.
Confidence does not become a true strength until it is tested and doubt tests us all. Just as there is yin and yang, north and south, and winter and summer, just as surely there is doubt and confidence.
- When did you make a decision or act on something even when self-doubt made you afraid to act. What motivated you most?
- Who do you have in your life you can turn to for support? Who would you prefer to avoid, if possible? How realistic is this?
- What does confidence feel like?
- Can you bring to mind a time when you felt enormously confident? What would you do if you felt that way now?
Confidence or doubt can show up in the way clients stand or sit, how they look at or away from others, and how they speak to others. Body, mind, and heart work together and are “a unified expression of all that we think, feel, perceive, and express” (Wahl, 2008, p. 83). Helping clients understand that changing their “body language” or volume or tone of voice can change how they feel and how others perceive them, gives them another way to shift their emotions.
Uneasy, non-specific feelings that create self-doubt are often less scary when they are brought into the open, named, and described. When this is done, clients may see that they don’t “look” as scary as the level of doubt they created “felt.” Helping clients pull out more specific information about what is causing them to doubt themselves may allow them to “name, claim, and reframe” (source unknown).
Another way of confronting doubt is to have a conversation with it – clients can do this themselves once they know how it is done. It can sound something like this (the client speaks both parts):
You are telling me I can’t interview for this job. Why can’t I?
Why bother? You’ll never get hired.
If I don’t go, I definitely won’t get hired.
You’re not good enough to be hired for that job!
But if I do go, at least I have a chance of being hired. Besides, you don’t know thetype of person they are looking for any more than I do!
Don’t go. Stay here and you won’t feel stupid when they don’t hire you.
You are not being logical. If I am not hired and do feel stupid (and I am sure I
won’t) what I will not feel like a quitter. I’m done listening to you!
The doubter usually wants to stay in place, immobilized. The confident voice is prepared to move forward; doing something is motion whereas doing nothing is stuck.
Encourage clients to understand how they are affected by doubt versus confidence and let them explore the up and down sides of being held captive by self-doubt.
- As a coach, how do you project confidence?
- What other strategies can you share with clients to help them favor confidence over doubt?
- How can you support your client when they are struggling and can't make a decision?
Wahl, C., Scriber, C., Bloomfield, B. (Eds), 2008, On Becoming a Leadership Coach,
Palgrave Macmillan, New York