When I speak to clients about personal freedom the conversation always gets around to the subjects of confidence and authenticity.
Confidence is key to personal freedom. It empowers us to take bold steps, embrace challenges, and live life by our own rules. Yet, for many women, confidence can feel fleeting, overshadowed by self-doubt, societal expectations, and a constant comparison to unrealistic standards. However, within each of us is our own well of inner confidence, waiting to be unleashed.
True authenticity also requires us to be confident. Confident in our choices, confident in our desires and confident in our way of being. By working on your inner confidence, you can break free from self-doubt, step into your power, and create a life that truly reflects your essence and desires.
But what is inner confidence you may ask.
Inner confidence is a deep sense of self-assurance and belief in our abilities and worth, which is fostered from within rather than relying on external validation. It is a state of being comfortable and secure in ourself, regardless of external circumstances or others' opinions. It is significant for personal growth and well-being because it forms the foundation for us to live a fulfilling and authentic life.
External validation relies on the approval or recognition of others but inner confidence is rooted in our own self-acceptance and self-belief. It stems from a genuine understanding and acceptance of our strengths, weaknesses, values, and uniqueness. It goes beyond external factors such as physical appearance, social status, or material possessions. It comes from a deep connection with ourself, acknowledging both strengths and perceived flaws, and nurturing a positive self-image.
Inner confidence can have a profound impact on various aspects of our life. In relationships, it enables us to establish healthier connections. When we are confident within ourselves, we can communicate openly, set boundaries, and express our needs and desires authentically. This in turn fosters trust and mutual respect in relationships, leading to deeper connections and emotional intimacy.
Our inner confidence can also progress us in our chosen career empowering us to pursue our aspirations, take calculated risks, and embrace challenges. It allows us to trust our abilities, make decisions confidently, and overcome any career setbacks. As self-assured individuals our inner confidence can inspire and motivate others around us, building strong teams.
My own experiences of inner confidence has helped me to create a life according to my values and passions. I have been able to step outside my comfort zones, pursue personal growth, and embrace new experiences. Don’t get me wrong, having inner confidence 24/7 isn’t easy and I still find times when I have to work on silencing my inner critic and being compassionate to myself. Despite this, I still have a greater sense of contentment and happiness than I did many years ago.
This has helped to build resilience so that I have been able to navigate ups and downs in my life. It has helped me to view setbacks as opportunities for further growth in my personal and professional life.
There are a number of reasons that we may doubt ourselves and our abilities which can then knock our confidence. These include:
a) Past failures
Previous experiences of failure or setbacks can cause us to fear repeating those experiences, leading to self-doubt about future endeavours.
b) Comparisons with others
Constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling inadequate in comparison can chip away at our confidence and trigger self-doubt.
c) Negative feedback or criticism
Receiving harsh criticism or negative feedback, especially during our formative years, can leave a lasting impact on our self-esteem and contribute to self-doubt.
d) Unrealistic societal standards
Societal expectations and ideals, such as beauty standards or career success benchmarks, can create a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt if we feel we don't measure up.
But we can build self-assurance and in turn our inner confidence. If we choose not to, we risk passing up on opportunities, settling for less than we desire or deserve or staying in situations that no longer serve us. Ultimately not tackling our self-doubt and transmuting it to self-assurance will only hamper us in the life we want to live.
Here are some ways to challenge our self-doubt:
Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. Notice when self-doubt arises and what triggers it. By becoming aware of the patterns and triggers, you can start to challenge the thoughts and emotions and replace them with more nurturing and positive ones.
b) Question your beliefs
Examine the validity of your self-doubt. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support your doubts or if they are based on assumptions or past experiences. Often, you'll find that self-doubts are unfounded or exaggerated.
c) Practice self-compassion
Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion when faced with self-doubt. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and experiences doubts, and it doesn't diminish your worth.
d) Challenge your inner critic
When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, consciously challenge those thoughts. Replace them with positive affirmations or realistic and encouraging statements. Reframe negative beliefs into positive and empowering ones.
Once you have been challenging your self-doubt for a while, it’s time to start building up that self-assurance. Below are some ideas on how you can do this:
a) Set realistic goals
Break down your aspirations into smaller, achievable goals. Accomplishing these milestones will boost your confidence and reinforce your belief in your abilities.
b) Celebrate successes
Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Recognise your progress and give yourself credit for your achievements.
c) Embrace failure as a learning opportunity
Shift your perspective on failure. See it as an opportunity for growth and learning rather than a reflection of your worth. Analyse failures objectively, identify any valuable lessons, and use them to improve.
d) Step out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to try new things and face your fears. Each small step outside your comfort zone will expand your confidence and help you realise your capabilities.
e) Seek professional help if needed
If self-doubt becomes overwhelming or persistent, consider seeking guidance from a therapist or counsellor. They can help you navigate deeper issues and provide effective strategies to overcome self-doubt.
Remember, to be patient with yourself as you practice. It’s not something that will happen overnight and you may encounter setbacks as you go along. It is all part of the process!
Authenticity and confidence are closely intertwined. When we embrace and express our authentic selves, we naturally feel more confident in who we are. Authenticity involves being true to our unique qualities, values, and passions, rather than trying to conform to societal expectations or seeking validation from others. When we live authentically, we are able to feel a deep sense of self-acceptance and self-belief, which form the foundation of confidence.
Being authentic also contributes to confidence by creating and building genuine connections with others. When we are authentic, we attract like-minded individuals who appreciate and resonate with our true selves. These relationships are based on trust and acceptance, further boosting our confidence in who we are.
If we want to be authentic, we have to learn to embrace our unique qualities, passions, and values. This is essential for our personal growth and overall well-being. Being authentic means honouring our individuality and embracing what makes us different from others. Here are some reasons why authenticity is important:
When we align our lives with our true selves, we experience a sense of fulfilment and contentment. We are more likely to engage in activities that bring us joy and meaning, leading to a greater sense of purpose in life.
b) Inner harmony
Embracing authenticity allows us to be in harmony with ourselves. We no longer need to put on masks or pretend to be someone we're not. This internal coherence reduces inner conflicts and enhances overall well-being.
c) Meaningful connections
By embracing our authentic selves, we attract genuine connections and build relationships based on mutual understanding and acceptance. Authenticity allows us to form deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
d) Personal growth
Embracing authenticity opens the door for personal growth and self-discovery. It encourages us to explore our passions, develop our strengths, and confront our vulnerabilities. This journey of self-exploration and growth boosts confidence and expands our potential.
You may be wondering how we align our actions and decisions with our true self so that we can build authenticity and confidence. Below are some ideas you may want to consider:
Take time to reflect on your values, passions, and strengths. Understand what truly matters to you and what brings you joy and fulfilment. This self-awareness forms the basis for aligning your actions with your authentic self.
b) Practice vulnerability
Embrace your vulnerabilities and imperfections. Understand that they are a natural part of being human and do not diminish your worth. Embracing vulnerability allows you to show up authentically in various aspects of life, creating genuine connections and building inner confidence.
c) Set boundaries
Establish clear boundaries that honour your values and protect your well-being. Learn to say no to things that do not align with your authentic self, even if it means disappointing others. Setting boundaries reinforces your authenticity and boosts self-confidence.
d) Practice self-expression
Find ways to express your authentic self, whether through creative outlets, hobbies, or honest communication. Allow yourself to be seen and heard without fear of judgment. This practice strengthens your sense of self and confidence.
e) Surround yourself with support
Seek out supportive and accepting individuals who encourage your authenticity and lift you up. Surrounding yourself with positive influences enhances your confidence in being your true self.
f) Take small steps
Start by aligning small actions and decisions with your authentic self. Each step taken in alignment with your values and passions strengthens your confidence and authenticity. Celebrate these milestones along the way.
Just as I mentioned that challenging self-doubt can take time, this is also true of finding your authenticity. It is a lifelong journey, and it requires courage and vulnerability to fully embrace your true self. Trust yourself, be patient, and allow your authenticity to shine through in all aspects of life.
Once I started to reflect on my values, morals, desires and acknowledged that I wanted to improve my life, I was able to start building the inner confidence and authenticity I needed to experience personal freedom.
I had to learn to be compassionate with myself even though I’d been raised and led to believe that being hard on myself was the ‘norm’. Even now there are times when the self-doubt shows up and I have to remind myself of how far I have come. My life looks very different to what it did five years ago and that is because I started taking small steps to find my authenticity and build my inner confidence.
It’s something that I have helped my clients to do. If this is something that resonates with you and you would like support on this journey, please book a consultation call with me.