The most frustrating thing about confidence is how effortless it appears for the people who have it to those who struggle with it. Everyone has that coworker who appears to have no problem speaking up in meetings. Or the friend who has no fear of chatting with new people at a party. While some people might be more naturally confident than others, it’s always possible to improve your confidence. We are going to dig into how to overcome your limiting beliefs to gain confidence.
Confidence is a muscle. We all have it. Over time it can grow and strengthen. Conversely, if we don’t flex our confidence muscles, they can weaken. There are many factors that go into developing confidence, but one of the biggest obstacles many people face is the beliefs they hold about themselves and about confidence itself. By learning to identify these beliefs, you’ll be closer to replacing them with healthier thought patterns that will build your confidence muscles.
What are Limiting Beliefs?
A limiting belief is defined as a state of mind, belief, or conviction that you think is true that limits you in some way. It could be something about you, how you interact with other people, or the world as a whole. Over time, these beliefs negatively impact us. They keep us from making positive decisions, taking on new opportunities, and most importantly they inhibit us from reaching our full potential.
Ultimately, limiting beliefs keep us stuck in a negative state of mind and hinder us from living a life we love. With these beliefs standing in our way, it makes it difficult for us to build confidence. The good news? We don’t have to keep self-sabotaging. It’s possible once we can identify these beliefs to rewrite them to something more productive and restorative.
Common Limiting Beliefs About Confidence & Tips to Overcome
“I need to feel confident to act.”
I see this time and time again with my clients. The belief that I need to feel confident to act confident holds us back from taking any action at all. The truth is you build confidence by taking action. The key here is to start. Want to speak up more in a meeting? Yes, it would be nice to feel confident, but are you capable of doing it regardless of how you feel? The answer is yes. Remember, just because something feels hard it has nothing to do with your ability to do it. Feeling confident is great, but it’s not necessary for action. You’ll only be able to start when you embrace the new belief that “you can do hard things without feeling ready.”
Tip: You’re probably thinking, “That’s me! I’m not going to let this limiting belief hold me back anymore.” The brain won’t be convinced until it gets proof. Actions, not words, change beliefs. Make your actions more courageous. Difficult things are always going to be difficult, but you don’t need to be ready to take action. Action builds confidence.
“But what will people think?”
As a leadership, life, and career coach, I spend a lot of time with clients who are what I call recovering people pleasers. Our culture is rooted in the belief that other people’s opinions of us matter. As a coach, I want to normalize this belief and help my clients work through it. Humans are complex, connected and empathetic creatures, and therefore it makes sense that we carry this belief around with us. The challenge here is to discern when and where it’s holding us back.
Tip: If you are someone who is worried about what others think and it’s inhibiting you from taking action, the most important thing you can do is not judge yourself for it. Acknowledge that it’s normal to feel anxious and care about what others think and, despite feeling that way, make a decision. Instead of “but what will people think?”, rewrite it to ”It’s normal to care what others think because it shows I care.” This removes judgement and allows us to make decisions. The act of making decisions while freeing ourselves of judgement allows us to build that confidence muscle.
“People think I’m more confident than I actually am”
I hear it all the time: “I feel like an imposter.” This limiting belief holds people back because it implies that our confidence is dependent on other people’s beliefs about how confident we are. Have you ever been in an interview and are worried that even though you know you’re qualified, maybe the interviewer will think you’re not confident? Or perhaps you have presentation anxiety. Despite hours of preparation, you’re scared others will “find you out” and that you actually have no idea what you are talking about. This limiting belief sabotages our confidence because it judges the validity of confidence on external factors.
Tip: Allow yourself to decide what confidence means to you. Confidence is a feeling that only you know. Don’t give others the authority to decide that for you. Recognize that most people are walking around this earth wondering “am I good enough.”
In order to feel more confident, it’s important to identify the limiting beliefs that are sabotaging your confidence. I’ve highlighted a few, but there are so many more. Confidence starts with you and inviting yourself to identify and unpack your limiting beliefs. This work isn’t simple, but I can guarantee you it will change your life and allow you to be more of who you already are.