There are moments in life that seem to shake us. These can be huge, obvious blows as well as a gradual build up of small changes or circumstances. Confidence can be so high to then one day disappear.
What does it look like to truly be confident? If my confidence has been knocked, how can I rebuild it?
[This post is part of the Mental Health series which can be viewed here]
Confident by Nature
Many of my closest friends would describe me as an incredibly confident girl. Most of the time, that’s true. However, I have had my fair share of confidence growth.
At 23, I finished a degree, had formed an incredible group of friends, and moved onto a brand new adventure. My ‘confidence’ was at its best.
Recently, my confidence was knocked – big time. Following the most exciting move and transition into my next chapter, things began to wobble and I wrote this journal excerpt:
“After Grandad died, things really started to pull. It was the final straw on an overloaded hay bale of new navigations, emotional strains and stressful trials. It’s been a huge learning season and I have constantly felt inadequate. I have doubted my calling and my capability a million times and at times, felt undermined or weary.”
When Confidence is Knocked
Circumstances can knock our confidence, no matter how much faith we may have. Transitional periods such as moving house or changing jobs in particular can catch us off guard – so off guard that we nearly quit and change career completely (yes, that was me).
Emerging from this season of process and transition, I have learnt a few things about what it truly means to have confidence, and how we can restore it when it goes a miss.
So, what is true confidence?
Confidence: the feeling of having very little doubt about yourself and your abilities or worth. And/or, the belief and trust in someone or something else as completely reliable.
The definition of confidence teaches us that capability, trust and feelings are all aspects of confidence, particularly self-confidence. Yet interestingly, we see that the deeper root of confidence comes from our belief systems: what we trust, what we believe to determine or qualify as worth, and how we emotionally perceive ourselves. Confidence may be affected by circumstance, our appearance, or abilities. Hence, it is typical that circumstances or situations outside of our control can completely seem to strip our confidence. However, the deeper issue is our own response, belief’s and reactions.
When our confidence is naturally knocked, we shouldn’t feel guilty or blamed. But, we can shape and build back confidence by addressing our response. We can control this!
Discovering Truths about Confidence
I have learnt that my confidence comes not from my ability or capability, but from the faith that God is love. I have found that true confidence is built when I choose to abide in this love; I’m already wonderfully created and ‘qualified’ for God’s perfect plan.
What do you believe about your worth, or your capability? Are you trusting in yourself? In a circumstance? In God? Is this positive? Could exploring a new perspective help?
(Check out ‘Paths – Fate, Feat or…?’ if you want to explore more about how we can trust in God as we confidently navigate life and decisions.)
Finally, one of the greatest lessons learned is that often, ‘confidence’ looks like patience. I don’t mean the ‘waiting-around’ sort of patience that often is associated with standing in a queue. Rather, ‘active patience,’ is about choosing to endure, and continue with what you have, whilst affording yourself grace. For example:
- Turning up to class today despite failing yesterday, and acknowledging that turning up alone marks the confidence to not give up
- Returning to university trusting that in time you will see the value – even though all you desire is to be on the otherside and in a job already
- Believing that where you are is exactly where you are meant to be, even when it may look like you are far behind everyone else on life’s timeline
- Choosing to view every slow or ‘low’ day as an opportunity to bear kindness or elevate someone else, as you trust that your best day will come in time
- Remembering that true love gives grace to the present person (just as they are), and by laying down the agenda to ‘fix’ or ‘change,’ it allows for true transformation in time
When my confidence feels low, how can I start to build it up again?
Besides the deeper reflections, I have also been discovering small tips and tricks to help build a sense of confidence. For each of us this may look different. Often ‘putting on confidence’ will discipline and train us to practise feeling confident. When we feel shaken by life (hands up if you’re also in your twenties and feel like this is a daily struggle) we can refill our joy, remind ourself of our worth, treat ourselves with dignity and connect with friends. Not to mention, we can also rally around our friends and build their confidence too!
Here are a few things that I have found to help boost confidence:
- Phoning close friends
- Wearing my best clothes and fixing my hair – even when I’m not leaving the house
- Laughing at the silly stresses with colleagues
- Writing down compliments and reading them when I’m feeling inadequate
- Receiving flowers from friends (thank you <3)
- Spending time with old friends – extremely helpful if you’re still forming social circles in a new place!
- Make a list of things you are good at and remind yourself of them!
- Ask friends or family to tell you good things that have happened in their lives, and lift your eyes to see that things do work together for good.
- Go for a coffee, speak to a stranger, donate to a food bank or do something different to your day-to-day ‘output’ / career – even the smallest thing, is a different and out-of-routine skill / action that you have wonderfully and capably done.
- Most importantly, let yourself go! Challenge yourself to not finish that email, or leave the dirty pots, or whatever it is that makes you feel inadequate and treat yourself instead. Face the fear of what ‘may happen,’ and discover that you remain loved and worthy and in existence even when you don’t accomplish – be confident in that.
Give Confidence Time
In time, confidence does return and there is always joy to notice. As I turned 24, I looked back on my recent overwhelming season with complete joy for all the small laughters, little miracles and friends who cheered me on. On a wider scale, despite the daunting transition, 23 as a whole was wonderful:
“This was the year that I adventured in the surprising doorstep ways, saying ‘yes’ to so many moments that I previously would have shied from. 23 was a year full of joy, laughter and the deepest wells of friendship yet! It was the year of pink, of invading ice-cream shops, laughing hard, praying faithfully, picnicking before and not after deadlines… It was sunshine, surf, dance parties and late night tea-drinking-therapy as my chums and I cheered and challenged one another. I can confidently look back and see many moments, the eruption of happiness in choosing joy as well as a million little miracles as I chose to make a big move. The transition may have challenged and knocked this ‘confidence,’ but I can confidently trust that I made the right decision, knowing that so much good has unfolded and the season I left was contented to be complete.”
Friends, wherever your confidence currently stands, I hope that you may know that you are loved, capable and more than adequate just as your are.
If you’re heading into this new year with a sense of apprehension, worry or doubt then know you’re not alone. I for one, am still walking through this confidence journey and probably will be for the rest of life! I may be daunted about the fast approaching season ahead of me, but I continually remember all that has been before and the joys that I will one day see.
I’m choosing to let God’s love and power working through my weakness define my confidence. What defines yours?
Enjoyed this? Check out more on the Living Well blog.
Morgan Harper Nichols has a lovely range of journal prompts, podcasts and reflections that can be helpful for building confidence.
Live Life to the Full – a free online course, which includes a session on confidence. Both the standard course, and the same course with Christian additions / reflections are available.