With three children in the house, there’s normally someone having a meltdown. Quite often, me! But last night was my daughter’s turn. She couldn’t find her school iPad in her bag. Within five seconds she was crying – completely catastrophising the situation: “I can’t do any of my homework; I’ll get detentions from every single teacher for the rest of my life” etc etc.
Thirty seconds later, we found the iPad on the kitchen top. Crisis averted.
What I took away from this situation, though, was that we need to put in a coping mechanism for when this DOES happen. And it will – one day, she will lose that iPad, or leave it in her locker, or lose the charger…
…because she’s human. And human beings are not perfect. I need to help her prepare for things going wrong so that she doesn’t fall apart and lose her grip on how to solve the problem.
I take the same approach with my work.
When I work with my clients on their interview or presentation preparation, I don’t just get them ready for the “perfect” performance. I prepare them for those times they fluff their answers, or forget what they were saying, or feel like it’s going badly.
I help them develop a mindset that allows them to cope with those scenarios, and move on, without being derailed.
When we go into high pressure situations, where we feel everything is riding on what we say over the next hour or so, our default mindset is quite often, “this is going to go wrong. They’re going to catch me out. I’m going to mess this up. It’s just a question of when”.
We’re sitting in fear. And when we speak from this place of fear – to ourselves, and to others – we don’t speak wisely. We don’t make good decisions.
Habitual negative thoughts drain you. We magnify them; we give them so much more power than we do any positive thoughts, until they are so loud they drown out everything else.
And we are the product of these thoughts.
Imagine meeting your best friend for a drink. The minute you see them, you know something’s up. Sure enough, they sit down and tell you they’ve been overlooked for promotion.
And you say to them: “Of course you have. You’re nowhere near as good as anyone else who went for that job. They’re found you out. You’re useless.”
Would that happen? No. Not in a million years.
We would never speak to our friends that way. Because we choose not to.
But we speak to ourselves like this. All. The. Time.
What if you had the power to CHOOSE not to speak to yourself life this? To turn down the volume of this voice? This voice of negativity; of criticism and fear.
By choosing to block out that voice, you make space for your loving voice to come through. This is the voice you use for your best friend who feels inadequate.
Gaining confidence is like gaining muscle: we have to use it every single day, and be intentional about it. We have to take responsibility for the way we speak to ourselves and stop relying on fear and self-doubt. It is a choice we must make, moment by moment, not to listen to the cruel voice that wants to stop us doing something.
How do we do this? Well, like anything we want to change, we need to become of aware of our behaviour. Are you living in a permanent state of fear? Do you feel stressed and anxious; that you’ll be caught out? Do you dread interviews and speaking to people?
Once you know how you feel, you can start to make the changes.
Notice your thoughts, and write them down. Next to it, write the positive, and realistic, alternative.
So, “everyone else is more qualified than me”, becomes, “they’ve invited me to interview because they want to give me this job”. “I’ll forget what I’m going to say” becomes “I’ve prepared for this, I know my stories”. “I won’t be able to answer their questions” becomes “I have all the answers inside me, I know I can tell them what they need to hear”.
Just as positive body language can change our mental state, our thoughts can change our mindset. Commit to transforming your negative thoughts in to a positive mantra and stick them all over your office to remind you to turn away from self-criticism, and turn towards self-assurance!
If you focus on the positive, your world will be come a better place. Your mind will be a nicer place to hang out. And you will know: you can handle whatever is thrown at you.
If you’d like my help in improving your confidence before your next interview or presentation, get in touch.