Every one of us has experienced at least one instance in our lives where our confidence has been smashed and we’ve had to re-build shattered psyches from the ground up. It might have been an acrimonious break-up, losing a job, failing an exam or being rejected by someone we thought was a friend.
For me it was a bout of post-natal depression.
As a naturally confident person this ‘side-effect’ of PND came as a bit of a shock. I went from having firm conviction in my general awesomeness to second guessing everything. Am I a good mum? A good writer? A good wife? A good person? At the time I didn’t feel like the answer to any of those questions was ‘yes’.
Once I emerged from the PND fog it was a shock to find my confidence didn’t re-emerge immediately. So (being me) I went looking for articles on ‘how do I rebuild my confidence’ and was pretty underwhelmed by the advice out there. So the logical next step was to turn to Facebook.
And you know what? Facebook delivered.
Here were some the of the great (not to mention real-life and practical solutions) my Facebook community came up with:
1. Check out all the awesome people who think you’re awesome
There’s no greater foundation for confidence than unconditional love is there? Hopefully your family and friends are like mine because knowing those awesome people loved me and valued me was a pretty good indication that I was a good mother, wife and person. And was a crucial first step in rebuilding the way I felt about myself.
2. Acknowledge the thing that destroyed your confidence
The boyfriend that broke our heart. The toxic friend who could only feel good about themselves if they pulled us down. The trolls who left horrid comments on your blog post.
There’s no point pretending these things didn’t happen so acknowledge them. Facing something head on instead of letting it nibble away at you from the side takes away the power that thing has over you. I remember the moment the doctor said ‘Yes, you definitely have PND’ to me. I felt a huge rush of energy because suddenly I knew who the ‘enemy’ was … and it wasn’t myself as previously thought.
3. Remember who you were
Do you remember that person you were before your confidence was destroyed? Well you realise you’re still that person right?
4. Have goals written down
How good is this idea that Faith shared:
“Have goals written down. Big goals, little goals and some in between. That way, when your confidence is shaken, or completely stripped bare, grab that list and accomplish at least one goal. Sure having people by your side to encourage you is great, but the greatest boost to confidence is when you push through and achieve something, defying what/who it was that destroyed your sense of self.”
Couldn’t agree more.
As an addendum to this, could I also suggest trying something completely new? For instance if you’ve never been sporty, try a triathlon. If you think you’re not creative, try a painting class. Tackling something you’ve never done before means you go in with zero expectations of yourself. This takes the pressure off and simply allows you to surprise yourself with what you CAN do.
5. Take yourself away from the toxic situation
Often it is a situation or a person who is sapping our confidence, slowly chipping away at our self-worth. So change your job, play for a different team, stop seeing your emotionally abusive friend or family member. It might seem like ‘running away’, but the relief you will feel at removing yourself from the toxic situation or the toxic people will be all the indication you need that you’ve done the right thing.
6. Turn to your mentors
We all have those people in our lives – whether they are personal friends, family members, or colleagues – who we look up to and whose opinion we respect. These people are pretty adept at telling us what we need to hear, rather than flinging meaningless platitudes our way. Because of this we trust them implicitly.
Which means we believe them when they tell us we rock.
7. Fake it till you make it
“I’ve been trying to figure out how I got to where I am now after having a rather nasty professional confidence shake a couple of weeks ago. It seems the strategy that worked for me was to operate the opposite of how I felt. I wanted to shrink back and hide professionally, I wanted to shut everything down; I wanted it to stop and I wanted to shut up shop (so to speak). Instead I went to town that week presenting/showcasing my work; having a greater voice and platform on social media and accepting clients left right and centre with gusto. I chose to be upbeat, positive, optimistic, and I made myself do it! It sure helped, and I’m learning that sometimes the first step to feeling victorious is acting it!”
8. Understand that it will take time
Most people who commented on Facebook indicated that often it will take a while to restore things to where they should be – it might even take years! After all, when something erodes your confidence it usually happens slowly and insidiously so things can’t be fixed with a click of your fingers.
But sometimes you do need to take matters into your own hands. As Margaret said “In the end you can’t let an experience define you forever and there reached a point where I realise I could simply choose to not let that event ruin me or my perception of myself.”
And I think that’s a pretty powerful way to sign off on this post 🙂
Have you ever experienced a shattering loss of confidence? How did you restore your faith in yourself?