Have you ever said to yourself: “If only I were more confident…then my life would be a million times better!”?
For better or for worse, there may be some truth in that statement. Research has actually linked increased confidence to greater success in the workplace, improved romantic relationships and better performance on a variety of tasks.
However, as you probably know, building unshakeable confidence is a lot harder than just memorizing “101 confidence hacks to instantly transform your life,” or whatever LifeHack is preaching these days 🙂
When clients meet me, they’ve implemented the hacks, and they feel a little bit better, knowing they are looking confident face on the outside. But on the inside? They’re screaming and shaking like a two-year-old. And the contrast between what’s real on the inside and what’s showing up on the outside makes them feel like shit…and lowers their confidence even more.
Jaime is the perfect example. When I first met Jaime, she was working a super stressful job with a terrible boss (think Devil Wears Prada without all the cute outfits and international travel). She also had a pretty horrible roommate who took advantage of her in all sorts of ways – including eating her food and even kissing Jaime’s boyfriend. Jaime knew that she needed to stand up for herself but was terrified of seeming “mean” or “incompetent,” or bothering other people.
The biggest problem? Like all the clients I see who struggle with low confidence, Jaime was paralyzed by the four fatal fears, as I call them, and she would never be able to feel more confident as long as she held onto those doubts.
The Four Fatal Fears Preventing You From Living Your Most Confident Life
If your story sounds a lot like Jaime’s, I can almost guarantee that the same four fatal fears I saw in her are also the ones holding you back.
So this blog shows you how to break down these fears and let your inner confidence blossom.
Confidence Killer #1: Fear of ourselves, as we are.
Do you ever look in the mirror and not like who you see? I don’t mean just how you look, either. I mean who you are as a person. How you treat yourself or others. What you do for a living. Habits. Vices. Your identity as a whole.
Well, we all have our off days. I bet even Beyonce doesn’t feel like Beyonce every day of the year! But if you continually feel like you’re fundamentally lacking or that something is wrong with you, then you struggle with the greatest of the four fatal fears: a fear of yourself, as you are.
Which is a terrible way to live. Imagine if Batman and Joker lived in the same house. They would constantly be at war with one another. They would live in fear, always on their guard that the other person would do something to hurt them. That’s what it’s like to fear being yourself! You live in your head, constantly beating yourself up and never feeling at peace.
To overcome this fear and stop the war from within, you need to actively make friends with yourself, just as as you are. And I know – that sounds crazy to you. So many people are afraid to accept themselves as they are because they believe they’ll never have the fire under their ass to change…and they’ll be stuck with their negative qualities forever.
But that’s not true. Just think about a really compassionate mother. She loves and accepts her child even if he’s failing at school. But that doesn’t mean she stops trying to help him improve his grades! She will urge him to study and find what subjects he’s passionate about, or maybe even get him a tutor. And she does all of this from a place of love, not fear.
You can befriend yourself and still desire growth and change.
For Jaime, befriending herself “as she was” involved recognizing that she wasn’t perfect and acknowledging that she had made some less-than-wise decisions in her life. Simultaneously, though, she saw that underneath these imperfections, she was a good person and was doing the best with what she had. Once she overcame the fear of accepting herself as a whole, imperfect being, she could embrace the things that would strengthen her good qualities even more…like a kinder roommate and a more balanced work life.
The big takeaway? Love and acceptance nourish self-improvement and self-confidence, not the other way around. So don’t be afraid to embrace your ordinary body, your positive and negative emotions and habits, and even your volatile state of mind. Recognize all that you are, and surrender to it, the good and the bad. That will form the basis of your journey to a more confident and improved self!
Confidence Killer #2: Fear of others.
Close your eyes and think back to your childhood. What was it like? Many of us probably remember an imperfect childhood, one in which our caregivers were unreliable, inconsistent, neglectful or abusive. So we learned to feel insecure in our relationships from a very early age.
Even if you grew up in a loving home, society’s “good girl” culture may have taught you that you need to behave a certain way to be liked and accepted. Or perhaps you’ve had a terrible boss, a romantic partner or a teacher who berated or threatened you.
All of these experiences can make us believe that we can’t trust people. We think that everyone is out for themselves. That it’s a “dog eat dog” world. That even your loved ones will abandon or betray you, and that you need to have your guard up 100% of the time.
Although confidence is an internal feeling, how you view the people around you affects your own wellbeing. In fact, living in constant fear of mistreatment or abandonment keeps us locked into low confidence. Instead, confidence comes from compassion, trust and kindness toward others. So think of this post as your invitation to breathe out fear and breathe in kindness, love and confidence.
How? Talk to the people you see daily on your commute and open yourself up to surprise connections. Love people in your family or community with your whole heart instead of holding pieces back to protect yourself from rejection. Replace your nightly ritual of watching the news with a mindfulness activity (read about 4 easy ways to be more mindful everyday here) if that helps you focus on the love in the world.
Tackling your fear of others also means refusing to be controlled by others’ perspective of you. Even though Jaime’s boss and roommate didn’t like that she was moving on (and screamed at her profusely), Jaime stood her ground, because she knew that they were both just insecure, dealing with a lot of their own stress and taking it out on her. So, instead of staying in a bad situation to please others or be a “good” girl, Jaime left! But she also maintained compassion for her boss and roommate, praying for them to find peace and happiness, too.
Whatever form the fear of others takes in your life, you must tear down the walls you’ve built between yourself and others. Only then can you feel confident in your own abilities to thrive in the world, regardless of what (or who) is thrown at you.
Confidence Killer #3: Fear of uncertainty.
It’s 11 AM on a Monday and you’ve just realized that there’s a sudden opening in your afternoon work schedule. What do you do? Kick back, relax and embrace having the freedom to do anything you want…or immediately rush to fill that slot with the most “productive” task you can think of?
If you’re like most people in my community, you’re drawn toward the latter.
It’s a strange phenomenon that while all of us say that we want freedom, we become uncomfortable when we actually do get space, and we quickly retreat back to the structured and the familiar. This, my friends, is the third fatal fear: the fear of uncertainty.
And it’s not just about your day-to-day schedule. Fear of uncertainty shows up in all kinds of ugly ways. Staying in a job you hate because you’re scared of not knowing exactly how the next opportunity will pan out. Or staying in a relationship because you’re not sure what it would be like to be single again in your 30s, or if you could even handle it.
Either way, the only solution to this kind of fear is embracing uncertainty. You can start small. Go to that pottery class you’re curious about but never dared to try. Schedule an hour of “unstructured time” into your day, and just go with the flow when it comes.
Then, start embracing uncertainty on a larger scale. Ask out someone “out of your league.” Take a 1-month road-trip by yourself without an itinerary. Check out jobs in a sector that really sets your soul on fire, even if you’ve labeled it as an “impractical” career path. Pull a Jaime and finally leave that psycho of a roommate even if you don’t know where you’ll live, because you trust yourself to figure it out eventually.
The bottom line is this: the more comfortable you are with uncertainty, the more confident you’ll be able to feel across every area of your life.
Confidence Killer #4: Fear of who we want to become.
Imagine you’ve reunited with an old friend at a restaurant who now owns 100 companies, and, out of nowhere, she offers you your dream job with a sweeeeeet salary. What’s the first thought that comes into your mind?
If you struggle with low confidence, I’m willing to bet it’s this kind of tune:
“Who am I to get this dream job when other people may be more qualified?
What if other people don’t think I’m good enough for this job?
What if this dream job isn’t aligned with what I’m supposed to want?
What if I take this job and it changes my schedule, my relationships, or who people want me to be?”
If these thoughts sound familiar, then you’re struggling with the fourth fatal fear: a fear of who you want to become.
It sounds counterintuitive to be afraid of becoming who we really want to be, deep down inside. But ask yourself this: if you succeeded at fully stepping into your dreams, what would you have to give up? Who would you have to hurt or isolate? What hidden truth would you have to reveal? What would people think if you failed? These kind of questions can help you understand why you’re struggling to “get better”…deep down, you’re scared of what this would really entail.
Jaime, for example, worried that if she spoke up to her boss, then her boss might take her anger out on Jaime’s colleagues, instead of Jaime. She feared that she would be responsible for making others suffer. Similarly, Jaime worried that if she spoke to her roommate about the boyfriend situation, she’d have to deal with being called “uptight,” and she was afraid of that label.
So how did Jaime move past this fear – and how can you do the same? First, you need to figure out what scares you the most about who you would become when you achieve your dreams. Then, make the choice! What’s more important to you? Your dreams or maintaining the status quo?
Once you understand what fears are holding you back and decide to chase your dreams anyway, you can start to listen to and support your deepest desires. And guess what? That will make you crazy confident!
How Identifying These Fears Will Increase Your Confidence
If your story is anything like Jaime’s, discovering and addressing these four underlying fears is key to increasing your confidence and letting you live with honesty and integrity.
“But Caitlin,” you may be thinking, “I didn’t even know about any of these fears until right now! How can I use them to build my confidence all on my own?!?”
Well, you don’t have to embark on your confidence journey on your own! For the first time, I’m offering a FREE 10-day email challenge that’s all about boosting your confidence and helping you trust your inner voice. Each day, you’ll get an email from me with an action you can take that day to help you overcome these four fatal fears and start doing what YOU actually want to do! To find out more about my 10-day challenge to build real confidence and learn to trust your intuition or to start your confidence journey today, click here.
The Bottom Line of How to Be More Confident
Nowadays, confidence really can be your secret weapon to achieving all the goals you set in life. However, feeling confident is easier said than done…at least until you address what underlying fears that are causing your low confidence in the first place.
The good news? Once you start reflecting on the fears behind your insecurities, you’ll be heading down the path to Beyonce-level confidence. Who knew that the power to transform your life has really been inside you all along?
Which of these underlying fears related to low confidence resonate the most with you? Tell me in the comments!