Why do we sometimes lack confidence, when often later, we realise that it was not at all logical?
David Borenstein said “Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalised his emotions.”
When I read Amanda Farmer’s Blog for WiS in April where she disclosed her lack of confidence as she anticipated going on the radio to talk about strata – I reflected on my time on the ABC in 2016 – and how I felt that same irrational insecurity.
Amanda confronted her anxiety and realised it wasn’t logical. She explains how she then rationalised that it did not make sense to be nervous talking to someone about strata when she did that every day without a second thought. So why should the fact more people are listening to that same advice affect her confidence?
So, what can we do when we are faced with those feelings? And how do we overcome them?
Acknowledge it is a feeling. If it is illogical, then what?
Perhaps you can try to change it into a positive feeling by:
- Just think, if someone didn’t think you could do it – you wouldn’t have been asked in the first place. It is we who think we can’t, not anyone else. They have confidence in us – they see something (rationally) that we do not. We should likewise rationally have confidence in ourselves.
- Remembering, we are not insecure when we are doing something we have done may times before – and even if we have never done this one thing before – it is good to extend one’s self. You’ve had many firsts in your life already. Such as when you took your first AGM or went for a job interview? This is just another one. After you do this thing for the first time, it will get easier.
- Step out confidently, as even by sitting/standing up straight and breathing calmly you start to feel more confident – subconsciously we do this when we are sure of ourselves, so project what you want to feel.
What if the insecure feeling is justified – we shouldn’t just rationalise it away which may well be dangerous, so then what can you do?
- If we feel well prepared, then it is easier to keep those feelings in check and re-assure ourselves. We don’t feel insecure when we know our subject and have done it all before. So, arm yourself. It is logical that the more prepared you are the more confident you will be.
- Practice – Again like taking an AGM or anything else you did that once made you nervous. The more times you do it the easier it will get. If talking publicly, then practise what you are going to say out loud – in front of someone else – or the mirror. It gets easier the more times you do it and nerves will start to dissipate. Accept it will not sound good at first, that is normal, but it will improve the more times you do it and thus it will be far better on the actual day because of the practice.
Finally, when it is all done you can be proud of yourself, you accepted a challenge and stepped out of your comfort zone. It will be easier next time. If you don’t try you will never get the experience and your confidence can’t grow – you must start somewhere. You can start small. My first AGM was with only one other person (a company nominee for one lot). I was still very nervous – but it was far easier one on one.
There is no substitute for experience and so the next time you are asked to do something that makes you feel nervous – you will remember how you overcame your insecurities in the past. Then you will know that you can do it again. With each new opportunity/challenge you know you can rise to a challenge and the more confident you will become.
Even those who are truly experienced still get pangs of nerves, because it is just part of being human. It is normal to self-doubt, it happens to every single person – you are not alone in this.
One last thing, with some things there is no right answer – there just needs to be an answer.