I've been coaching for over six years now, both health coaching and life coaching. There are hundreds of strategies, ways of thinking, habits, and practical tips to improve your life and feel better about yourself, but they’re all redundant without a foundation of confidence. You need to be confident in who you are now and where you want to go, so you can take the sometimes-scary actions required to achieve your goals and dreams. The good news is that you can develop your inner confidence with a healthy dose of self-awareness combined with good old practice. It all starts with connecting to your authentic self.
Personal values are a big passion of mine, and I think they’re one of the most important things you can know about yourself because they act as personal boundaries. Children thrive when they’re given strong boundaries because they feel safe when they have something solid to bump into. The values that sit deep inside of you at your core act the same way. They’re something to hold on to when you’re faced with uncertainty.
Have you ever noticed that some people or situations leave you feeling angry, frustrated, or deflated? It’s often because one or more of your values is being denied or suppressed. You experience it negatively because a fundamental piece of who you are is being denied. On the flip side, when your values are being honored you will feel truly alive, even buzzing with positive energy. By living into your values, you will be more aligned with your true self and get more of the same.
Values are so important because no one can ever take them away from you. They are yours, and you can have absolute confidence in them because they will always be there waiting for you to notice and use them. When you get to know your values, you can start to make choices and align your life with them. It’s simple and feels amazing because you are allowing who you are to live in the real world.
This is closely aligned with the topic of integrity. We cover this in the declaration sessions in my group coaching program, and it’s about having intention and commitment for who you wish to be, how you want to treat others, and what you want to give. When you live with integrity, you’re being your most truthful and consistent self. You know your values and filter your decisions and actions through that lens so you don’t compromise or become someone you don’t want to be.
Think back to the example of children thriving when they come up against boundaries; setting value-driven boundaries for yourself as an adult will also help you thrive. It won’t always be easy and some people in your life might not like it. There may even be some people who drop out of your life. But when you speak up about your values and say “no” to yourself and others when things are out of alignment for you, you build self-confidence and trust in yourself. It also makes room for people who do respect your values and boundaries, which will in turn help your confidence grow even more.
The second part of developing your inner confidence is to exercise your confidence muscle. When you’re trying to strengthen your biceps or glutes, for example, you do different exercises over a period of time until you see the results you’re looking for. The same goes for building up your confidence. And, like any muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Let’s imagine someone who goes through each day doing what needs to be done (and even doing it well!), but don't take too many risks or stretch themselves. They live within a safe comfort zone of what they know. When a new or scary opportunity comes up, they may talk themselves out of doing it with thoughts like, “I’m not good enough,” or “that’s not who I am”, or “I don’t really want to do it anyway.” But when they take fewer risks, the less confident they need to be, and the less confident they become.
The idea to write this post came to me last week when I was on a practice ride with my son’s mountain bike team. We were riding on trails that were unfamiliar to me because our home trails were too muddy from all the rain we’d been getting. As I was riding along, I realized that I was a lot more comfortable on my bike than I’d been in a long while. Thanks to the three weekly practices with the team, I was becoming more confident in my skills and that I could handle whatever terrain I came upon. As I was riding, I felt far less tentative than the month before.
I know this is the case for other things in my life, too. For example, the more I plan and record episodes for The Extraordinary Life Podcast, the more confident I become in delivering them. The more I speak to groups, the easier it becomes. The more I cook a recipe, the less I need to reference the instructions and I get more daring with changing up ingredients.
I didn’t start doing any of these things because I was confident. Rather, I became more confident because I started, and continued to practice them.
In order to strengthen your confidence muscle, you need to be prepared to take risks. You need to be willing to stretch yourself in an unfamiliar direction, try something new, or do things in a slightly different way. You need to open yourself up to the possibilities around you and push yourself. The more you’re open to risk, opportunity, and possibility, the more confident you need to be, and the more confidence you’ll develop.
If you start building your confidence muscle now, think of how much it could grow over the next one year or ten years. You could look back and think, “Wow! That’s been the best year (or decade) of my life!” The trick is that you need to start taking action now.
I’d love to hear what you need to do to push yourself just a little bit, and how you’re going to start exercising your confidence muscles. Let me know in the comments, or interact with me on Instagram and Facebook.
If this idea excites you, my Extraordinary Life Tribe group coaching program is the perfect container for focusing on your goals and dreams in a community that will support you in getting there.
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