Life events can knock you off your foundation, which is bad enough. But, when your confidence is shaken in the process, matters get even worse.
Whether it is a work-related situation or a personal one, you may be wondering What’s wrong with me?
That’s right, minefields. Some career situations can feel just like that. Have you experienced any of these?
- Felt stuck in your current job and unconfident about how to move forward.
- Lost a promotion opportunity or salary increase, putting your self-worth in question.
- Previous events at work may have left old wounds unhealed, keeping you in doubt of your own value.
Each one of those examples can feel like a minefield of emotions. I know—I’ve been there.
One time in my corporate management career, I missed out on a promotion, for which I was sure I was the best candidate. Instead, the job went to a friend and co-worker, and I ended up reporting to her. My confidence shattered and it took a while to bounce back. It affected my work and my relationship with my new boss and the big boss who made this choice. I felt the change in my confidence in a big way, and others could see how I had shifted to a place of uncertainty.
Personal Upside-down Moments
On the other hand, there are some personal life events that can take you out at the knees and leave you in a state that makes decisions hard. You don’t trust your own instincts and your confidence takes a hit. One of these examples could do the trick:
- Gone through a breakup or divorce and the sense of failure is overwhelming.
- You’re a new mom and wondering where the new-parent manual is, questioning your every choice and decision.
- Find yourself alone due to the loss of your spouse or your kids have grown and left you in an empty nest, wondering Who am I now?
When my husband left me for another woman, my confidence took a hike, for sure. This left me feeling unlovable as if I failed, and everything about me felt broken. What was wrong with me are the words that kept bombarding my consciousness.
4 Ways to Rebuild When Your Confidence is Shaken
No matter what the circumstance is that brings you down when your confidence is shaken it may be nowhere to be found. However, I’ve learned there are some simple techniques that can help you rebuild your confidence over time. This may not be a quick fix kind of thing—that depends entirely on your commitment to making it happen. But it is an absolute possibility when you adapt and apply some proven strategies. Confidence is key to moving forward and is like a muscle you need to strengthen with exercise.
1. Gain Understanding
Step back and explore the situation that ripped your confidence. Think about it from an objective view. Then write about the situation, expressing your point of view and how others may see it, giving the benefit of the doubt where needed.
Tend to the emotional wounds that may linger, forgiving yourself for the role you played while forgiving others involved for theirs. This does not in any way condone the wrong that was done, but it does release you from carrying the burden of it.
Once you have released the emotions, own your story—but don’t “be” your story. Talk it out with trusted advisors or a coach, so you can start to tell the story in a different way.
2. Shift Your Attitude
Your mind can play so many tricks when your confidence is shaken. The voices in your head keep shouting and leave you feeling like a Doubting Thomas or Negative Nellie.
Just as you can start to tell your story in a different way, you can shift your attitude from negative to positive, from doubting to knowing. Each time you notice the negativity coming up, switch it around and think a more positive thought. If you’re thinking I can’t, switch it to think I can. If you’re thinking why me, change the thought to why not me and find the opportunity and the lesson in the adverse situation.
A conscious shift in your attitude may even allow you to recognize where a little dose of gratitude will help. There is almost always a silver lining in every situation—you just have to find it. Look for those things for which you can be grateful and make a point of remembering these each time the negative voices pop into your head.
3. Trust Your Experience
This is likely not the first time in your life that your confidence has taken a hike—it probably won’t be the last. That means you’ve developed some experience in this department. It also means you have something to fall back on—to trust. You have done this before, and you can do it again.
At a time like this, it’s beneficial to recall other situations in which you felt real confidence. How did you feel? What words would you use to describe yourself when you felt confident? Are there words others used to describe you as you lived in that confident world? Write these words down and start to believe them again.
Here’s another way to look at it. When you lost confidence in yourself in the past, what did you do to regain it? Recall those times and focus on the techniques you used to help you rebuild your self-worth and strengthen your resilience.
4. Practice. Practice. Practice.
As you begin to understand your thoughts and feelings when your confidence is shaken, take small steps so you can celebrate each win. When you catch yourself in the Negative Nellie mode and shift to a more positive outlook, celebrate that. Each small win will build momentum and you’ll feel the shift coming.
Take deliberate actions that shift your attitude so they can rebuild your foundation of confidence over time. This could take days, weeks or a month. It may even take more. That all depends on how much you are willing to practice and apply the techniques that work best for you.
Lean on and trust that you already have some tools that can help you when your confidence is shaken. Dust them off. Use them again. Rinse and repeat.
You can lose confidence, yes. Many life and career events can be the culprit. And, you can rebuild confidence with a little understanding, shifting, trusting and practice.
Step Onto Your Bridge
When life-changing moments suddenly flip your world upside down, you may have lost your confidence. You may discover that you don’t know who you are anymore or what comes next. I create a bridge for women to walk from that chaos to a place where they can find calmness and clarity. They build resilience along the way and learn to live a life guided by their own values and vision. To learn more about the impact change can have on your life and how to move through it with more dignity and grace, request my free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.