How to Build Quiet, Unshakable Confidence—From the Inside Out
In my last blog, we dove into the four biggest confidence killers for introverts, and how to overcome each one. Now, it’s time to learn how to build the quiet confidence you’ve been wanting from the inside out.
Almost five years ago, after nine months of job searching to get me out of an unhealthy work environment, I finally got a new job. And I thought this was the job I’d been waiting for.
The company is known for being a great place to work, I was stepping into a newly created role on a fairly new team, and the role had been tailored (so I thought) based on my strengths and experience.
At first, I loved it… until I discovered that I was working for a hard-to-please, micro-managing boss who wasn’t a great communicator. And I gradually realized that my new position actually drew on my weaknesses more than my strengths, and even the things I was good at within the role sapped my energy.
My new boss slowly killed my confidence, making me feel not good enough at every turn, and I began questioning my value and whether I even belonged in marketing. I was in that position for almost a year, and after I was finally recruited by another company—you can read that story here—it took a solid year to completely get my confidence back.
I’ve always been highly self-critical, and since I was allowing my boss to make me feel not good enough too, the impact went even deeper.
True Confidence Comes From Within
This showed me that true confidence comes from deep within us, and it’s unshakable. Yet so many of us are trying to build our confidence by seeking approval from external sources.
We think we need affirmation from our bosses and coworkers to be confident that we’re good at our jobs. We think we need the right words said at the right time—and in the right way—to feel confident in our relationship. And we think we need the approval of our friends to be confident in who we are.
When we get exactly what we think we need, our confidence often does get a boost. But this is temporary, and requires constant fueling in that very specific way, which is too far outside of our control.
It Beings with Changing Our Beliefs
Confidence begins with our beliefs—because our beliefs are what create the cycles that keep us stuck in the same patterns. Your beliefs create your thoughts, which make you feel a certain way, causing you to act a certain way, and giving you the result that proves your initial thought to be true.
In summary: Belief > Thought > Feeling > Action > Result.
Confident people have beliefs that are creating positive, supportive thoughts that generate a confident feeling. And the opposite is true for those who struggle in this area.
After I started my new job (with the hard-to-please boss), I quickly began internalizing all of his criticism and disapproval. I started believing that I wasn’t good at my job or a good enough writer, which wasn’t true, and this belief led to the negative thought spiral that created my feelings of inadequacy.
After I was recruited, I had to put in the work to change my damaging beliefs and internal narrative before I could restore my confidence.
Changing your beliefs and ultimately, your thoughts can help you create more confidence in your life and build the superhighways in your brain that you need to get to that confident feeling more quickly.
You’ve spent years building superhighways that take you to doubt and fear fast, so this won’t happen overnight. But developing a practice that will help you identify and change your damaging beliefs will gradually begin elevating your confidence in a very sustainable way.
Leveraging Those Mountain-Top Moments
It’s easy to feel confident when things are going well. We need a strategy for believing in ourselves when things go wrong and we feel overwhelmed or defeated. When we make a mistake or get called out in a meeting.
So, the next time you have a mountain-top moment, pay attention to what is running through your mind. This will help you identify the thoughts that create confidence for you.
Write them down, continue building on them, and begin consistently practicing these positive thoughts to build a new superhighway. The goal is to choose thoughts that you’ve selected from the highs and practice them enough to still believe them during the lows.
This will take some time. The true test comes in the more challenging moments, and you will default to your old thought patterns at first. The key is to get increasingly quicker at mentally moving to the more supportive thoughts that create your confidence.
Controlling Your Inner Critic
Be aware that your inner critic will be waiting in the wings to sabotage this strategy. Low confidence is a breeding ground for the not good enough messages that you’ve been believing since childhood, because we created our inner critic to keep us safe.
We talked about these five questions in the previous blog, and I’m going to list them here again because they’re so powerful. Asking these five questions helps you release the strong emotions you’re experiencing, so you can be more objective about what’s actually happening beneath the surface:
- What is the story I’m telling yourself?
- What am I making this mean?
- What is causing me to react so strongly?
- What is my inner critic trying to protect me from?
- What is actually true—and what am I supposed to learn from this?
Patiently sit with each one until you hear the answer, and use this awareness to begin separating the story you’re telling yourself from the reality. This inner work will help you tap into your intuition and give you the courage to acknowledge your fears.
This is the first step toward controlling your fears instead of allowing them to control you, and this feat alone will generate a foundation for confidence that you can build upon in every area of your life.
Read this blog next to discover how you can be happier at work and create a career you love, right where you are.