Recently my confidence was shaken, in a pretty big way.
As a writer on the subject of confidence, this made me feel like a major fraud. However, in that time I knew that this was a valuable experience. I trusted that I would come out stronger for it.
And guess what?
I’ve learnt so much, and now I want to share it with you, in the hopes that if you’re ever feeling in a rut, you too can trust that things will get better.
Picture this — a rut is a curve — you slide into it, you can wallow in the base of it, but ultimately you can and will climb out of it.
How My Confidence Got Shook
In order to share the lessons I’ve learned, it is relevant to understand how it happened. Reviewing my life’s patterns helps me learn more about myself, my responses to situations and helps me build my toolkit to improve as I go along.
This confidence shake was preceded by a lot of change.
I love the idea of change, and the new beginnings it brings.
This strikes at the core of my inner-dreamer. She loves to dream about a bright future and the growth on the journey along the way.
However, my reality is that when I am going through the change, I feel it can suck.
Now that I’ve been through it, I think I have understood the why of it. It is because during the change my foundation was unstable and uncertain. This is what I need to work on moving forward.
With my husband’s work taking us to a new city, I had to quit my job, leaving behind some amazing colleagues, and a wonderful lifestyle we’d built in our home and community.
Over a space of 6 weeks I had a lot of change and activity during this transition. I have lived in 5 different places, (finally we are in our new home, woo!), house-hunted, job-hunted, been to around 10 job interviews, 4 professional networking functions, 3 interstate trips back to our hometown for family and professional events, all while trying to settle into life in a new city.
For me, this was a lot to take on.
Yes, but what actually happened?
This change necessitated getting out there and getting stuff done. I had to put myself out there to find a job. I had to search unfamiliar suburbs to find a place for us to live over the longer term. I needed to meet lots of people to build my network here. There was also a lot of life admin with the change.
So, I needed to be productive and I needed to be *out there*.
But my foundation was unstable. This was new territory for me. Individually, I have done all those things before. But condensed into a short period of time — with most of this activity peaking in a 2–3 week window, I had to push myself.
And I got there. We’ve done almost all the things we’ve needed to as part of this change.
But during this time, I had a few days where I was teary, on edge, felt miserable and sorry for myself.
I went to a lot of parties. Pity parties. A party for one lonely soul. Me!
There was one day where I spent most of the day in bed crying, feeling that I was hopeless and useless.
My self-talk went off the rails. It was saying: “you’re not going to get a job”, “why would anyone want to hire you with your experience”, “you should just give up and find some other career”. Seriously, this talk was intense.
Worse still, I judged myself harshly. I felt like a fraud. I thought to myself, how could I possibly write about confidence and share daily thoughts on this subject, when I am failing miserably at life?.
Hehe, drama queen much!?
But in all seriousness, when we are down, this is what it is like. The negative talk gets heaped on us.
And it takes a lot of effort to shift it.
In that season of transition and low confidence I knew deep down that it would be ok. I trusted that there would be lessons to learn and this would help me be an even better writer, mentor and coach on the topic of confidence.
I knew it is what made me human. The fact that I was not perfectly confident at all times. It didn’t make me a fraud, it made me real. I am not perfect, and I am not trying to be. And I don’t think anyone expects me to be perfectly confident always and all ways. Even if they did, well, that is their concern, not mine.
But, when you’re in that trying time, and not feeling yourself, you lose sight of what is important.
What is Important?
I wish I had been able to take a helicopter view to see what was going on.
Because this is what I would have seen…
Someone trying so hard, putting on a brave face on her exterior, and getting out there, sorting out life in a new city. A lot of energy flow outward to pursuits other than her own self.
Someone trying so hard but getting upset that they weren’t alright. And instead of working on the inner stuff, they continued to push on the outer stuff, because they felt that was most important.
This is the value of hindsight, it is always 20–20. This is why I talk about reflection as a key step in building confidence, overcoming self-doubt and in reaching our goals. It works on so many levels.
I’m now moved through my season enough that I have this perspective. And I am loving the lessons I am learning.
It is like a CEO of a company. They are so high up the food-chain they often forget what it is like to work on the shop floor. I’ve been to the base of my confidence-shaken rut, and I am so grateful for the reminder and the experience. It brings me renewed insight into my own confidence journey.
Going through it, I trusted it was temporary and knew I’d be stronger afterwards.
I was right. My instincts were right. I know I can trust my instincts.
What Else Did I Learn?
In my reflection, I have thought about what could have helped me avoid the saga of spending days in bed crying.
I remembered things that help me when times are good. And it is these things that I need to double-down on when times are not as good.
Funnily enough, the list is all self-care related activities. Our health and wellbeing are the foundation of who we are. It is not so surprising then that this what we need to honour, especially when times are tough.
This is what I have come up with:
Meditation creates a sensation of inner calm on a physical and spiritual, inner-core-you level. I find it centres me and calms me. Even just a few minutes can change my day. Meditation is free, quick, easy, but is often something I go ‘oh, don’t have time for that today’. Going through what I just did, I definitely have time for it.
I love writing down my thoughts and feelings. It really helps me see my experience in a way that I can learn my lessons. But again, I felt I didn’t have time nor energy. Journaling brings about the reflection piece much more immediately. Perhaps next time it will help me shift sooner.
I really enjoy reading but stopped during this time. I was missing it. I had books beside my bed, and I longed to read them. I should have listened to my inner voice, it was trying to guide me toward reading. Instead I yielded to the outside pressure of ‘do this, do that, you don’t have time for this, you’ve got to do, do, do, push, push, push’. Reading helps fill me up and it inspires me — creatively, intellectually and energetically.
I need to focus on improving my quality of sleep. Changing my sleep habits so they are healthy habits at the start and end of my day. E.g. no phones, tv or screens just before bed. And no grabbing for phone at first light of the day. Instead, take this time for gratitude, reading, journaling, meditation and consciously calming the body with some mindfulness.
Working on my self-talk is key. We are with ourselves all the time, shouldn’t we be kinder to us? More kindness, less harsh critic. And not doubling the criticism, by judging the situation of being in a negative headspace.
I mentioned feeling like a fraud, an imposter, for pushing out content about confidence when my own was hurting. I was honest about it on Instagram, I said I was going through a shaky time. Just because I am faltering at that moment, doesn’t mean I can’t talk about confidence — the good and the trying.
Letting myself off the hook and not judging would’ve helped. Instead, replacing these messages with self-talk that is encouraging, supportive and kind. Like I would for a friend if I saw them go through this, I would be totally easy on them.
It shows me this is an area I need more work on — and I am thankful for the opportunity.
It is ok to fall and have tough times. Please trust yourself, you are capable of getting through it.
Maybe these ideas above may help you?
Maybe you have other techniques to move out of a confidence-rut. What helps you bounce back?