Be unapologetically you - how to build your confidence muscle

(Published originally in Nov 2018)

I'm often being told: "Oh, but that's so easy for you because you're so confident!"

Well, that is true - I am confident! But did that come easy - no way! I've been building my confidence muscle for ages and definitely wasn't born with it.

At the start of elementary school, I was a small, white-haired girl with huge red glasses, a gap between my front teeth, a very loud voice, and perhaps a bit too eager to share my opinions.
A few years later, you could see me sporting a pair of bright yellow jeans matched with a lime green satin shirt (yes, you read that right). While this was certainly a fabulous outfit, for me, it was also an opportunity to express my unique being. Even back then, I could already feel that something within me that wanted to come out, and I was keen to explore it, be it through my clothes, my communication or just my being. 
I didn’t really care what others would say – and believe me, I have gotten my fair share of bullying and nasty comments – but I kept thinking, I’m heading somewhere and good things will come out of this. Deep inside, I thought others’ opinions had nothing to do with me – and I kept wearing those fab yellow jeans.
(from the Wander Woman's Playbook)

We are born with only two fears

So, talking about what we are really born with - it includes two fears, and two fears only: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All the other fears we make up as we mature. The good news is that all of the fears can be overcome. The bad news is, it's often hard work and feels uncomfortable to say the least.

Based on my experience, one of the most prominent fears us adults have is that deep-rooted belief we are not enough the way we are. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons why we struggle with confidence so much. Also, this fear is one of the hardest one to overcome as it lives deeply in our belief system and you know what:

Let's say your belief is unhealthy (eg 'I'm pretty sure this won't work' ) -> you automatically take less action because you're afraid it won't work out -> the results you get are not what you (secretly) hoped for -> this reconfirms your belief ('it won't work out') and here we are: an unhealthy belief system that keeps feeding and strengthening itself automatically.

So, confidence really is a muscle that requires training like any other muscle. Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Well, that's the type of training I'm talking about! How should one then approach exercising the grey matter? Let me share a few of my confidence tips and tricks...

1 Decide to be confident

I'm sure you've just gone 'daa' - but I'm serious! Bear with me: the secret is in how you do this - and this is a decision you want to make with absolute certainty. To increase certainty, I tend to tell myself out and aloud I'm worthy and capable and I believe all this starts with myself: if I don't believe in myself, who will?! Bonus tip: try blasting the song ‘Uprising’ by Muse first thing in the morning and if you don't feel more powerful and confident after this...well, message me: we need to talk.

When we change our physiology, it helps us to make better decisions and super charges us to make those decisions with absolute certainty.

So, I kept going, unknowingly working on my confidence-mindset. I thought if my head was strong enough, it wouldn’t get hurt by minor comments or other people’s opinions about me. I realised my validation needed to come from my very core and not from external sources. 
To strengthen this, I told myself empowering stories and kept seeing myself in a positive light. This translated to other parts of my life. For example, in ballet, which is a very disciplined art form, I approached the daily grind with determination, keen to systematically improve myself each and every day. I had a clear goal and I was in competition with myself, not anyone else.  
(from the Wander Woman's Playbook)

2 Be authentically you

This links to what I was saying above about the fear of not being enough: we should all just blindly trust we are ok the way we are. Each one of us is unique and different - and that is a gift. Once we are aligned with ourselves, who we are deep inside, and when our being, values, habits, behaviours and actions are in harmony, it's easier to be confident.

I know us women sometimes suffer from this syndrome of 'feeling like a fraud' and I can tell you, being authentically you is one of the biggest services we can do to ourselves - and this is the winning long-term strategy, too.

3 Know your stuff - capability is confidence

For me, working in a professional services field, my brain was my product. I needed to know my stuff and when I knew my stuff, I could trust myself, and this immediately ramped up my confidence levels.

Clearly the confidence muscle was then nearly automatically strengthened as I got more senior at work and had more competence. Well, today it's a different story again! Being an entrepreneur, I can say there's a lot of oh s*** moments when I need to go to Mr. Google / Tony Robbins / Brendon Burchard / [insert any other top expert] and learn things I have never heard of before! I think about this as getting comfortable being uncomfortable is a requirement in today's world to maintain relevance.

At the bottom of it, being a student never stops... I hope you love learning as much as I do!

4 Practice, practice, practice - and sure thing, use some hacks!

I love hacks - who doesn't?! As said, confidence is a muscle so it needs constant attention to stay in a tip top shape. I have a few favourite hacks (on top of the affirmations I mentioned above) that I like to do:

  • Power posing: physiology is key. Whatever posture works for you to make you feel you're in charge. This can take 10 seconds but it will boost your brain in an instance!
  • Right image and attire: I like to wear an attire that fits the context and makes me feel good about myself. I practice how I interact with people, how I introduce myself and all the other finer details so I have trust in myself = more confidence presto.
  • Getting my messaging right: these days I speak a lot in public and I practice over and over again so that I am in full control of how my message comes out and gets the maximum impact. This sets my brain at ease and I can feel more confident.

I hope you enjoyed that - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

x Anna

Excerpts from the #1 Amazon Bestseller Wander Woman's Playbook. If you haven't already, order your own copy from here!

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