Losing your self-confidence can feel like losing a friend. I’m not talking about chronic low self-esteem. I’m talking about a single event or series of events that shatters your confidence and leaves you wondering if you’ll ever get it back. It can happen anywhere –– losing an “easy” tennis match or misreading a relationship. Afterward, your former confident, happy self seems like a false memory or someone you no longer know.
When it happens at the workplace, it often affects your entire life. You feel it first thing in the morning when you wake up. You obsess over it at night as you drift off to a troubled sleep. That little voice that tells you you aren’t good enough and don’t deserve what you have is self defeating and unfortunately, self-fulfilling. Studies suggest that people who lack confidence earn less than those with it. In my own work as a coach, many of my clients aren’t just seeking a new career but renewed confidence as well. The good news is, the challenge is far from insurmountable. Here are some ideas for what to do when you lose confidence at work.
I remember someone commenting at a party that dogs aren’t as smart as people. It got me thinking about the innate biases of intelligence tests. After all, humans are administering them. Of course dogs won’t measure up. If dogs were in charge, IQ tests would be filled with sniffing and opportunities to demonstrate their unparalleled ability to sense our emotional cues.
My point is that you are a genius at something. Maybe it’s not work-related, maybe it’s something you consider “just a hobby.” But there is one thing you do better than anyone else. When you lose confidence at work, lean into this, draw strength from it. You may do more than regain confidence. You may discover a new career as well.
I’m a huge believer in the power of meditation. Taking time to relax, learn proper breathing, and enter a mindful state can really help you when you lose confidence at work. Morning meditation can modify your mindset. You can find plenty of guidance online that will help you quiet what Deepak Chopra describes as your mind’s managerial role of confusion, distraction, and disorganization.
Dive Into the Unfamiliar
Take up a martial art. Learn a new language. Sign up for a 5K. Do something different. By leaving your comfort zone you will slowly gain confidence in something new –– which can bolster your confidence in something familiar ––– like work. There’s nothing wrong with routine –– having one can increase your productivity. It’s just after a while the routine stops working and you need to shake things up a bit. Even an adult internship could help you regain confidence by introducing you to a potentially new career in an unfamiliar environment.
It’s self confidence, right? Maybe part of the problem is the self part of the equation. So get out of your own head by helping others with theirs. Tutor someone or volunteer at a shelter. Offer your expertise on Twitter or work at a hotline. Take time to improve your community and help a neighbor. Just by forgetting your own problems for an hour or two you can really improve your confidence.
Unplug from the News and Social Media
We tell ourselves we need to be informed and connected but is that really what’s happening? Study after study has linked social media use to depression and news to anxiety. There’s more of both right now. You’re probably saying that you need news and social media to do your job. Are you sure? Unless you are a social media director or news producer, you can likely cut out both–– at least for one day a week, even if it’s a Saturday. Instead of starting your mornings by checking news sites or Insta, read a book — ideally one that isn’t on your laptop or tablet where discouraging news is just one click away
Negative people can derail your confidence. Don’t let them. Start winnowing them from your life. Ask yourself how you feel after interacting with someone. If the answer isn’t energized and happy, then seek out different companions.
Chances are some of the most negative people you know are at your job. If they are the reason your confidence went into a tailspin, then you should try to spend as little time as possible with them. It may be worth it to have a conversation –– often our greatest underminers are also the most unaware of their influence. Then again, you could take your renewed confidence and use it to find a healthier workplace.
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