THE BLOG

The Massive Self Confidence Myth and Why a Lack of Self Confidence Is Always to Blame for Holding Women Back in Life

17/10/2014 12:14 BST | Updated 16/12/2014 10:59 GMT

I work with women across a variety of areas of their lives; losing weight, getting fit, finding purpose, becoming more assertive, breaking bad habits, motivation, energy, nutrition, their relationships etc etc. But what I've come to realise is that there is one common denominator underlying all these challenges and concerns.

And that common denominator, is a lack of confidence.

This 'lack of confidence' is the key factor holding women back in all of these other areas of their lives. It's the source of all their challenges and issues.

Whether it be a feeling of insecurity in the way they look, or a belief that they're not talented enough to earn that promotion; whether it be a feeling of guilt that they're just not good enough mothers to their children, or that they will never have their perfect relationship because their perfect partner would never want a woman like them.

It all comes down to one ingredient. Or lack thereof....Confidence. That mysterious, elusive, intangible concept that only some of us are lucky enough to feel. That feeling others missed the boat on, when they were handing out the confidence gene..... Or is that really the case?

For too long, people have been selling the great confidence myth - central to this myth, is that confidence is presented as an ends in itself - something we should aspire to and pursue at all costs, because as part of this myth, confidence is success. Full stop.

The story of the myth goes that all 'successful' people are confident and that, by definition, to be 'successful' you must be confident. Confidence is promoted as a valued personality trait - a rare attribute that some of us are born with and some of us are not. A stroke of fate, coupled with some genetic fatalism, dictates whether we have it, or don't. It's your personality that dictates how confident you are and worse still, whenever you ask for feedback from people about things that you feel you struggle with (or that they say you struggle with!), the answer is often simple - 'you should just be more confident'. Thanks!

It's a vicious circle, as we become so pre-occupied about being more confident, so worried that it's the promised land itself, we become more and more convinced that we can never be a confident person, because we weren't born that way and it's not in our nature. It becomes our very own self-prophesising limiting belief - confidence (and therefore 'success') is out of reach, as we're simply not born that way.

As is often the case with myths like this, the way to break free from them, is to ask the why question beyond the full stop. If the myth goes that confidence is an ends in itself and that with it comes 'success', we need to ask why? Why is confidence something to pursue? Why does it bring 'success'?

The answer to this why question - and again, this answer is a common one when trying to break free from many limiting beliefs - is that it allows us to achieve our desired outcomes. Long term hopes and dreams; mid term plans and objectives; short term day to day desires.

Confidence, it turns out, is not an ends at all. It's a means. A very important means. Perhaps one of the most useful means available to us. But it is just a means to a much more personal and critical set of destinations - doing, saying, thinking, feeling and being all the things you want. Your ideal self. Your ideal life. And on a much more granular level - your ideal moment to moment.

Success is not some promised land of destinations that you can look up on a map, or do a wikipedia search, on the internet, for. Success is different for every person - because success can only be defined by how many of those desired outcomes you achieve - and as we've just seen, those are wrapped up in the doing, saying, thinking, feeling and being that only the individual in question can define for themselves.

So, by asking 'the why' behind confidence, it makes absolutely no sense at all to assume that it is something that is chanced upon as a personality trait. If it's just a means to achieving our ends, why would we not all have that capacity? Yes, some may have a propensity towards being able to access it more easily than others. Yes, some may take to it as a tool quite naturally, whilst others may have to spend longer in the classroom to get to grips with how best to utilise it. But, as a critical human ability, designed to help us achieve anything from the mundane to the incredible, we all have access to it and we all have the potential to master its use.

If we all have the potential to master self confidence, what you could do if you felt self confidence in every situation?

Think of all the things you would try. The opportunities that you would take. The people that you would speak to. Just imagine the endless potential. No fear of failure, rejection, humiliation, or of damaging your ever more fragile pride. All of these fears wiped out in a moment, and in it's place.....opportunity. In fact, it's likely that your life would be very different than it is now. All because of that illusive feeling of self confidence.

So, if self confidence is a feeling, a mindset, like feeling happy, feeling sad or hopeful, it's a feeling that we can all create for ourselves, whenever and wherever we want. You can choose to have it today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life!

Because you already have the power of self confidence - inside you. You do! It may be hidden, deep deep down, but it is there, and you're going to find it, feed it, nurture it and support it until it's at a level that reinforces, rather than sabotages, your life.

The reason I'm so sure that you already have this confidence inside of you is because we have all, at some stage in our lives, felt good about ourselves - even for the briefest of fleeting moments. Of course, some of us less than others, some of us less often than others, and some of us longer ago than others. As we've already started to discuss, we all have the capacity to feel confidence, because we need that capacity to keep us alive - it's a critical means to an ends - it helps us to know when we are doing something well, and allows us to move a skill or ability into our sub conscious control, so that we then carry out those things without even thinking about it.

For example: Think about when you learnt to do some of the basic things you now take for granted - eating, walking or talking for example. At some stage you must have felt confident that you had mastered those skills, that you were executing them correctly and, at some stage, you must have had the confidence to stop thinking too hard about them and allowed your sub conscious brain to just do them. And do them confidently.

This ability to just be confident, without even thinking, is what we're after. It's one thing feeling confident or even knowing that you should be feeling confident, but it's quite another to actually be it. It is the being confident though that allows us to pour all of our energy into achieving the things we want in life, rather than spending large amounts of precious resource analyzing and worrying over whether we should feel confident about something in the first place.

When we start to understand then, that confidence is just a tool, a means to an ends, rather than an ends in itself, rather than worrying about the fact we don't feel confident about x,y and z, we can start to switch on the tools, the thinking processes and the belief systems, that allow us to just be confident - and by being confident, we can then achieve the ends we're after - whether it's that promotion at work, the balanced relationship we've always wanted, walking into the party feeling sexy, or being a great mother to our children.

Anyone and everyone can have the self confidence that they dream of having. The self confidence that will enable them to make the necessary decisions and take the actions that they need to take, in order to create the success and the life they want and deserve.

So choose to make a change, choose to take control of your feelings, and choose self confidence.