In my job search my confidence level started out pretty high. With time, though, that changed.
While being in a job search can be exciting, because there are so many directions you can pursue, it’s easy for self-doubt to creep in.
Should I really pursue that industry? I’m not sure I’m qualified. I’m not sure I’m good enough. I’m not sure I’d be able to do that job.
Should I go to that networking meeting? What if no one likes me? What if no one talks to me? What if I say something stupid?
Should I apply to that job? I’m probably too late, and there are hundreds of others who have already applied.
Should I send that email? What if they think I’m dumb? What if they don’t see it? What if they feel like I’m spamming them?
Should I get out of bed today? What if today is like yesterday: completely useless? What if I try things, like applying online and emailing people, and it continues to be useless?
The list can go on and on and on.
You might start out strong, but as you get rejected, or see non-responses from people, your confidence levels decrease. As the months go on, your confidence level vaporizes. The questions change from what you read above to statements that have these words:
“nobody wants me”
“I won’t be able to…”
“I don’t provide any value”
“I can’t learn…”
That nasty list goes on and on, too. The self-talk is self-destructive, and this is evident in the way you act around others, treat others, treat yourself, and what you are motivated to do.
I, too, could go on and on about the negative thoughts and negative self-talk. But instead, I want to share a phrase I read somewhere:
Self-control builds self-confidence.
These three (or five, depending on how you count them) words had, and still have, a PROFOUND impact on how I thought and think and I act and acted.
We can change, or build, our self-confidence by having and practicing self-control? How does that work?
Self-confidence is a funny thing. It can change on a dime, and it can increase or decrease because of what others might consider to be superficial. Consider the emotional 14 year old boy or girl, trying to get a date or catch the attention of a potential flame. Their self-confidence hinges on a look, a smile, a kind word or response, or what they perceive to be the other person ignoring them. In fact, the other person might not notice them at all, might have gas, or might have had a bad day. Or maybe that other person is emotionally unstable, or just as worried about how you look at them! How is it that self-confidence can be so fickle, and controlled by things that are so insignificant and out of our control, even whimsical and superficial? Why can’t we be more in control of our self-confidence?
I suspect that even the most confident person’s self-confidence can be influenced by superficial, meaningless things, and take a hit.
The formula, above, though, tells us how we can build, even strengthen, our self-confidence. It is through our self-control. For me, this has meant going on my three mile walks, even when the temperature is about 15 degrees (about 10 degrees Celsius). The good news is that you have the sidewalk to yourself, since no one else is loco enough to be out there walking around town!
It has also meant doing the hard things on my list that I’d rather roll over to next week, or the week after. It means apologizing to some people, forgiving others. It means biting my tongue, or disciplining myself to do that really hard project.
Instead of ignoring my list of to-do and must-do items, it means going through them, one by one, making progress, crossing things off. I’m feeling more confident as I write this… just the idea of having the self-control to work through my tasks is building my self-confidence a tiny bit!
I CAN DO THIS
That’s the new mantra. Instead of all of the negative self-talk from above, my “I can’t” becomes “I can.” The “I’m not good enough” becomes “I AM the right person to do this.” The “I’m not smart enough” becomes “I can learn this!”
When you do things… when you practice self-control (or, when you put self-control into practice), your self-confidence is built.
When you DON’T do certain things (like refrain from wasting four hours playing games online, when you have a host of other things to do, or saying unkind things about others, etc.), your self-confidence builds.
It’s important to note that I’m not saying “doing things builds self-confidence.” Rather, practicing self-control, which might mean doing some things and not doing other things, can build self-confidence.
If you need to, talk to someone, even a therapist, or go to the book store and peruse the self-help section. There’s tons more to read about this stuff. But for me, that simple three word phrase has had a significant impact on my thinking, and my actions, and ultimately, my self-confidence.
I hope it can have that kind of impact on yours, too.