Why are we suffering a confidence crisis?
“These days, we’re expected to excel at everything,” explains psychologist Anjula Mutanda. “The media has given birth to the ‘Superwoman’ – a powerhouse in the boardroom and a domestic goddess at home. She should produce catalogue-perfect babies, while being waxed, plucked and polished to perfection.” Translation: we’re doomed to fail before we even try. “We’re being force-fed an unachievable checklist, so we end up berating ourselves when we don’t quite measure up,” she continues. “Drop by drop, our self-worth is being depleted.” Who is suffering?
“I’m noticing a real dip in self-esteem startying among women hitting their mid-20s,” says Mutanda. “This is when the pressure to be ‘Superwoman’ first kicks in. You can’t hide behind being a student any more. It’s time to start achieving.” And the effects are detrimental almost straight away; we watch that job promotion go to a less-deserving colleague or let the love we deserve slip through our fingers, all because we think we’re not good enough. So what to do?
“The first step to boosting your confidence is learning that art of compassion,” explains Lynda Field, life coach and author of How to Kick the Self-Doubt Habit in 48 Hours
. “Stop focussing on yourself. Instead, try to react as if the situation is happening to someone else.” Would you tell your friend she wasn’t worthy of a pay rise or berate your sister for gaining two kilos? No. So stop using yourself as an emotional punching bag. How to rebuild?
After you’ve gagged your inner critic, it’s time to focus on rebuilding your confidence. Try these three to gain more confidence… … In a minute: Put on your happy face
Inside you feel awkward and ridden with self-doubt, but if you plaster a smile on your face, you are one step closer to brimming with confidence. Why? Consciously changing your facial muscles so that they don’t convey what you are thinking or feeling is a useful way of sending subconscious message to your brain. The brain will then respond by beginning to change your mood accordingly. … In a day: The world is your stage
A good public speaking course can be the perfect tonic to confidence jitters. It will teach you breathing techniques, body language tricks and verbal introductions that should translate to any social situation. Remember, charisma and confidence can be bought, so be the first in the queue. Try http://publicspeakingcourses.com.au/training_courses.html
. … In a month: Talk it over
For some, confidence takes time. Approach your confidence ladder with baby steps. If you are intimidated by people you don’t know, try having a short exchange with a stranger – maybe a shop assistant or waiter – everyday, and 28 days later you won’t recognise your old self. Guaranteed. This is an edited extract from an article which first appeared in madison, March 2009