Many people say their most pressing challenge is their lack of confidence, but how do you become more confident? And how do you then measure it?
For a long time, there was nothing I wanted more than to find a way to tell my husband I no longer wanted to be with him. It was a marriage of 7 years, and deep inside of me, I knew it was never meant to be.
It took some time and elaborate thinking on my part, but there came a day when he finally left, and here was I, free and happy, but also, sad, confused and with a feeling I just came to a standstill at a dead-end. Now what?
I realised I didn't know who I was. I knew who 'we' were, but not who 'I' was, and after a week of intense going through each and every emotion under the sun, I decided I should go and see a therapist.
I truly believe that the people we are meant to meet come to us at the right time, and this therapist I found was one such thing, only not for the reasons you might think...
On the day of the first session I found myself in a massive church-hall. In the far end were two metal chairs. "Come", he summoned me, and as I came closer, I realise my chosen saviour was as drunk as they come! "Too late to turn around?" I wondered, but then reminded myself I've always believed in divine 'coincedences' and so I sat down and told him my story.
This funny drunken guy just looked at me and said the most profound thing I've ever heard in my life. This sentence would turn out to be the turning point of my life, and still guides me to this very day!
He said: 'my dear, you are lacking the power of your own convictions'. I remember that at the time, my English was not all that good and I really didn't know what he meant. It was only when I went to the office the next day that Colin explained what it must mean, and I've started on a new journey of self reflection, leading to changing the course of my whole life.
If you know my story since, you would know that this was the time I decided to 'say yes to anything'. More specifically, anything that scared me, but that I knew was not going to kill me... The new approach to life was thus as follows:
- does it scare me? If not, whatever..
- if yes, ask - is it going to kill me?
- if yes, abort mission, if not, just go for it!
To cut a long story short, in no time I went on 'a challenge of a life time' raising money for Arthritis Research Campaign and then flying to Nepal to climb the foothills of the incredible Himalayas. I went on a year-long course to 'teach English as a foreign language', and armed with my certificate, went to Mongolia to teach English.
After a year in Mongolia, I went backpacking in South East Asia, and at the end of the 10 months trip, been accepted on a Masters degree course, despite not having a first degree - all because I had a relevant industry experience!
The 'yes to anything' formula changed my life in ways I can't even begin to explain. It brought me to where I am right now, and more than that, it made me realise one thing about confidence: This one ingredient that was missing from my life until I met that drunk therapist, came to me when I dared to be myself. When I stoped looking for other people's approvals and also stop believing they had the right answers for MY life!
In no time after coming back to the UK from my travels, I realised how blinded I once was by lacking the powers of my own convictions. I could see I was now the most interesting AND daring person in any room I entered. Everywhere I went, people just spoke about wanting to do stuff, and here I was, the one who actually did!
It made me realise how wrong I was to ask for people's advice about MY life, because if they weren't able to help themselves, how could I expect them to help me? And why did I think their advice was better than my own wisdom and intuition?
Fast forward all these years, and now I am a coach. More specifically, a Confidence and Empowerment Coach and I work with people to help them recognise their own negative self talk and limiting beliefs that are holding them back!
I've become the coach I needed to see if I didn't end up meeting that first therapist. By the way, I only saw him once more after that, but his place in history is forever held!
The last thing I want to say before I bid you farewell, is this:
We are born confident. We are born perfect. We are born without any low self esteem, fears, insecurities. We are born perfect, and by the time we are 4 years old, we are already the product of our surroundings: our parents, family, community's fears, hopes, frustrations, prejudice, limiting beliefs, and more.
We take their baggages on ourselves, and it takes a while to a) recognise we've been carrying someone else's baggage all along, and b) we can go back to our original starting point and re-start, using the wisdom we found along the way, minus any of the limitation!
So, is confidence more nature or more nurture? I guess, as the saying goes, it's a little bit of both!