When it comes to confidence, many believe that you’re either a confident person or you’re not. But that’s simply not true.
Confidence is a skill that we need to continuously work on, according to confidence coach Erika Cramer, also known as The Queen of Confidence.
“I look at confidence as a practice. I look at it as similar to if you meditate. You don’t reach ‘meditated’ and you’re done. You’re always meditating and you’re in the practice of it,” she said.
“And I believe confidence is the same. There is no end goal. You don’t hit ‘confident’ and then you’re done. You practise it. You show up. You’re continuously willing to put yourself out there.”
Cramer said while we are all born with confidence, she believes that we learn how to not be confident as we grow up – we inherit fears through our parents, belief systems, structures, religion, and broader society.
However, confidence is a skill that can be learned.
“I think the people that are really confident are in a practice, and we don’t see it because they do it so smoothly. But we’re always in a lack. I lack confidence all the time, I just jump back in and start practising confidence again,” said Cramer.
“I don’t think anyone is confident. I think we are either in the practice or we’re not in the practice of confidence.”
Why do women lose confidence?
Many women struggle with confidence, or lack thereof, and much of this comes down to how women are wired and how they have been conditioned.
“Women are usually much less likely to put their hand up, ask for a pay rise, go for it, even though they have the experience and the knowledge, while a man will be more optimistic about themselves,” said Cramer.
In many instances, the experience of our early childhood years can result in trauma and impact our confidence, said Cramer.
You may have been bullied at the school playground, struggled with teenage acne, been pushed out of a friendship circle, or your parent didn’t show you love. These experiences in our childhood teach us about who need to be and how to protect ourselves, which can result in losing confidence.
“I think that in our society and culture, and how we’re raised as young girls, it keeps that (limiting mentality) going,” Cramer said.
“But I think the biggest thing that stops us is that we’re scared of rejection and failure, and what failure means. We’re worried about what other people will think of us.
“I think telling ourselves the story that we’re just not confident, or that confidence is only reserved for some people, feels much more comfortable than actually admitting to ourselves that we’re not willing to put ourselves out there, that we’re not willing to be rejected, that we’re not willing to mess up and get back up.”
5 actionable tactics to become more confident
When it comes to developing confidence, Cramer teaches the method ‘The 5 Cs: the practice of confidence’, and here’s how you can tackle each step:
When it comes to confidence, it’s often our decisions that play a huge part in how confident we feel.
“Many of us, when we’re lacking confidence, are fearful or scared of the possibility of what we want and what we want to do,” Cramer said.
When making a choice, Cramer recommends taking a good look at your life and identifying areas where you’re unhappy.
This is about checking in with yourself and asking: what are the choices (or big decisions) I am avoiding in my day-to-day life?
Contrary to popular belief, confidence involves courage. It means exercising and finding courage even in those moments when you’re facing fear.
“You’re scared as hell, you are so nervous, your heart is racing, you’re in major self-doubt, but you don’t stop yourself. You let yourself feel that lack, you let yourself feel that fear,” Cramer said.
“Courage looks like someone who is extremely scared, and that’s normal. It’s normal that when you are going to do something meaningful and important that you’ve been avoiding that you’re going to be scared.
“It’s about redefining courage: you’re taking action while you’re shitting yourself.”
What’s the tiny step you can create, what’s the little thing you can do, towards that big, scary decision?
This could be starting the search for a new job or exploring options to start a new business. It could be letting your boss know or talking to your partner about this decision.
“That little step builds some momentum. And we can’t build confidence without creating, without the doing,” said Cramer.
“Sometimes you can’t take action, so you’ll need to create a solution for what you need to do.”
The consider step in the practice towards confidence involves evaluating what you did in the create phase.
It’s about self-enquiry, so reflect on and assess the actions you took and ask yourself: How was it? How did I do? What did I learn? If it wasn’t good, how can I improve or change things for next time?
Cramer emphasises that the words we use here when evaluating and using self-talk is crucial. Avoid using the word ‘failure’, even if that job interview didn’t go well or if you’re hitting roadblocks in setting up your own business.
Rather ask yourself what the process taught you and how you can apply those learnings going forward, to encourage yourself to keep going.
Possibly the most important strategy in gaining confidence is to try again.
“You continue the practice – you make another choice, get some courage, take the next action step, evaluate how you went,” said Cramer.
“Step 2 (Courage) and Step 5 (Continue) will push you along in your confidence practice, where you’re constantly making choices you need to make, you’re creating the actions, you’re evaluating how it went, and you’re continuing to move through this five-step practice.
“And that is the practice of confidence, in my eyes.”
You can learn more about the practice of confidence in Erika Cramer’s book, Confidence feels like shit. Purchase a copy here.