What is confidence and how can women cultivate it?

10 badass women's tips and my take on this C word!

Picture by Véronique Mas (https://www.enluminart.fr) 

Every time I talk to a badass woman, no matter her age, her attitude in life or her job she mentions the C word as a hurdle to overcome. I wanted to dig a little deeper and learn what makes women feel confident as well as what research has to say about confidence.

I found that there are plenty of tricks and tips we use to make ourselves feel more confident on the moment and those are all excellent boosters! However, from research, I also found that real, deep and lasting confidence can only be achieved in certain areas: those we practice, pay attention to and act upon.

Let's dig into the research

Before you ask... yes, there is a relationship between our levels of confidence and our DNA... BUT the good news is that only 25-50% (different researchers' opinions differ) of our confidence levels depend on our genes which means that we have at least 50% to work with!

There are plenty of reasons why women seem to feel less confident than men (e.g. the tendency to dwell on failures, not owning our achievements and attributing them to luck, impostor syndrome etc.) but for this post, I want to focus on solutions.

Here is what Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (Authors of The Confidence Code) offer as a definition of confidence: "Confidence is the stuff that turns thought into action". Basically, what this means is that if we think we can succeed, we move into action but if we are not 100% sure, we might procrastinate, or simply default to inaction. Does this sound familiar? It sure did sound it to me! It's all about our assessment of our capability.

The thing is, if we don't "DO", we can't get better... so the answer is, start doing! Here are some ideas based on my readings: 

#1 Everything happens so fast these days that you can't wait for perfection: try things out, fail, learn, try again! You will gain confidence as you acquire experience and knowledge.

#2 Bye bye comfort zone! Get out of it, do something, put yourself out there! It's tough, feels awkward, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Risk is what keeps you growing and learning. And if you fail... learn and try again, remember #1!

#3 Overthinking drains our confidence. We all do it and we all need to stop doing it! Consider how you can rewire instead of thinking harder about the same thing. Identify 3 of your proudest achievements, write them down and remind yourself of them EVERY DAY and especially when you need a boost.

#4 Redirect the attention. We've all heard it, women are communal and think of the whole, right? So, we can use this to your advantage! How will others benefit from what you are doing? You are an awesome lady, if not for yourself, do it for the world. It needs you.

#5 Practice. Practice. Oh and practice. Did I mention practice? Be willing to learn and to put in the time. All great masters didn't spend their time worrying about whether they were doing things right or not, instead, they spent their time practicing until they felt ready. In case you missed it - PRACTICE!

#6 Stand up, speak up and power up! This does not mean you should be rude or speak out of turn but when it is your turn, assert your confidence, take up space and make sure your chin is parallel to the floor! (Try it now!) 

If all else fails, listen to this awesome confidence playlist, contributed by Gina Mariko of Make It Mariko!

But seriously, as I talk to more and more women about confidence and the moments they felt it the most, everything comes back to preparedness, knowing their stuff, and putting themselves out there, in any order. I loved reading all the responses I received and you'll see the correlations between all the badass ladies say and what the research shows! We're onto something!

And for quick boosters and tips from a lot of lovely ladies , check out the end of the post!

 

                         “Confidence is the stuff that turns thought into action”


                                                WHAT 10 BADASS LADIES SAID!

  1. What does "confidence" mean to you?
  2. Think of a situation when you felt really powerful and confident. What 3 elements made you feel confident?
  3. What advice would you give to other women who need a confidence boost?


JULES HANNAFORD, PODCASTER AND AUTHOR OF HARNESS YOUR INNER WARRIOR WOMAN

  1. Confidence is about loving yourself, owning your story and being resilient and taking risks.
  2. Doing a live Hong Kong Confidential podcast at Adelaide Podcast Festival: I felt supported by friends and family. I love being creative and I am passionate about podcasting.
  3. Face your fears and you will gain courage, strength and confidence.


AYA GARCIA, BOXER AND PHOTOGRAPHER

  1. Having self love and believing in yourself.
  2. I had my first boxing match in 2012. It was a roller coaster of fear and bravery. I had so much support from my friends and family both in Canada and in the Philippines, my heart was bursting from all the encouragement. I was wearing the Filipino flag colours (so that brought about even more pride) and I had just trained so hard for three months coming up to that fight.
  3. It’s ok to be sad, scared or doubtful but never turn your back on the urge to ask for help, you’d be surprised about how many people out there are willing to help you.


CHRISTINA CLARE, FOUNDER OF THE MICHUB

  1. Confidence is belief in yourself premised on internal strength
  2. Knowledge of my skill sets, ability to think critically and commitment to empathy as a core value of my interactions.
  3. Think about the thing that makes you unique, and focus on how to make that your strength.


BIJAL SHAH, MARKETER FOR WWW.BIJALS.COM

  1. Knowing yourself
  2. Knowing my topic, knowing what I brought to the table, bold colorful shoes to remind myself and the audience that, 'I got this'.
  3. No matter how much you hate presenting or being the center of attention, no one knows your stuff like you do and you've gotta remember that. You are your own expert.


SONALI NIGAM, FOUNDER OF MITTENS: A PET WELLNESS STARTUP

  1. The awareness that I am enough, and while I want to be learning continually, I can do what I set my mind towards.
  2. Being well prepared. Failing multiple times and learning from each failure. Taking care of my kind body by meditating and exercising
  3. Confidence is a mindset that can be cultivated - by trying new things that terrify you, by failing and getting back up and by developing compassion for ourselves.


KAREN INGRAM, CREATIVE DIRECTOR

  1. A sense of security in your perspective and/or ability.
  2. When I am encouraged by people I respect, when I am able to turn a discouraging response to me and my work into "feedback" rather than a sign that I should abandon my ideas (this relates to preparation). Sometimes that's hard to see because I get discouraged so much! Ha! Exercise makes me feel powerful. I have found that running can help me focus, which makes me confident. I started surfing a few years ago, and being able to experience the same ocean on different days gives me faith that there will always be an upturn.
  3. Lady, take the feedback but don't give up.


HANNAH MCCAULEY, CREATIVE CONTENT CREATOR & BLOG WRITER

  1. Confidence means that you are comfortable with yourself and your decisions, and that you don't need validation from others.
  2. 1. Knowing inside and out my thoughts, opinions & WHY I had those specific ideas.
  3. 2. Having a lot of first-hand experience in the topic that was being discussed.
  4. 3. In my situation, having a partner who was on the same page as I was and was there to back me up if I needed.
  5. In the moments when you are feeling a lack of confidence, remember who you are and what you have worked towards & OWN yourself, your title, and your decisions.


JACQUI SOMEN, POSTNATAL FITNESS TRAINER FOR 100AND8.COM

  1. I find confidence in the journey — I remind myself every day that I am awesome and that I also have a lot of work to do.
  2. I feel at my best when I am teaching. It is just an amazing feeling to be able to support other women in feeling their best too. Eating healthfully, getting enough sleep, meditating and moving in some capacity every day help me to feel good about myself on the day-to-day.
  3. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, set the goals that feel right for you and then make them happen.


KO IM, CONTENT EDITOR FOR NY YOGA LIFE & WELLNESS TEACHER

  1. Wisdom in action.
  2. The tone of my voice, how my content flowed, how strong I felt inside out, and the positive reinforcement/feedback for incremental :)
  3. You can either think about everything you’ve done, talk something over with trust circle, wear your favorite accessory whether it’s red lipstick and/or practice without the pressure of perfection.


SUSANNAH BAILIN, CEO OF ADVICECOACH

  1. The expectation that you can handle whatever comes next.
  2. When I gave a talk, I knew the what, why and how. I had prepared to answer any questions, I was deeply motivated by how meaningful it was to me and I was comfortable describing my strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Think about something in the past that you accomplished which was very hard. Remember how you felt before you began and how you felt when you succeeded.


I'd love to hear how you view confidence today and what your first step might be towards empowering yourself!


And if you need some quick boosters, here are some suggestions from a bunch of lovely ladies! 

  • Watching videos with lots of swears in them. Immersing yourself in the words of confident people to emulate them!
  • Work with a coach to build confidence
  • Lipstick
  • Building confidence with people you don't know to overcome fear of judgment from those you do know
  • Exercise, sleep, and respecting your body
  • Practice until you get it right!
  • Meditation- finding the confidence from within
  • Receiving feedback
  • Feeling good in my own body after a nice shower, a nice night sleep
  • Wearing your favorite clothes
  • Seeking awkward and frightful situations on purpose just to overcome fear
  • Preparation. Research. Risk Management. 

Originally published at www.leadwithatwist.com

Well-Being, Self Improvement, Leadership, Emotions, Advice

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!