The Art of Self-Confidence

March 20, 2012

I’m not going to embarrass anyone by naming names, but I’ve had a few people ask me if they could ‘borrow some of my confidence’ recently. It’s a funny old thing really and a notion that I still find very strange. Inside I’m quaking in my boots pretty much daily, but apparently no one can tell – I guess that’s a good thing!

I really don’t see myself as a confident person (seriously, just ask Gareth how annoying and stressy I’ve been over my School of Rock workshop that’s happening tomorrow!) However what I am aware of is how I present myself in order to give the impression of self-belief.

My faith in myself has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years. However I certainly didn’t wake up one day feeling top of my game…in fact even as I write these words I’m cringing a little bit inside that you’re all going to think I’m a right knobber. My ‘knobberness’ is something I’ve just had to come to terms with I guess.

Fake it before you make it

I’m not a huge fan of this phrase because to me it makes me think of phoniness or people not being true to who they really are. However there is a semblance of truth nestled within the idea.

In a nutshell, if people look at you and see a confident, smiling person they’re not going to think you’re a fraud or ‘faking it’. People will take you exactly as they see you – as a confident, smiling person. The way you choose (and it is a choice) to present yourself is the way people will believe you are. If you’re constantly telling people you’re worthless it stands to reason that eventually they’ll start to think the same.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

When people meet me they instantly make assumptions about my personality. I have pink hair, I have visible tattoos, my fashion choices are anything but reserved. While I’ve always said “well this is just me”, I have made a very conscious decision of how I want to present myself. The ‘Rock n Roll Bride persona’ is an amplified version of who I am and over time I’ve grown into it. I’d still be Kat Williams if I had brown hair, but the way I represent who I am enables people to make (positive or negative) judgements about me very quickly. Obviously, you wouldn’t expect someone with neon hair to be a wallflower would you?

I’m not saying you all need to go out and dye your hair a wacky colour to exude confidence. But I do want to encourage you to think about how you present yourself and what assumption people will make about you because of it. Do you slouch or stand up straight? Do you wear dark or bright colours? Do you make an effort with your hair and make up? Do you wear heels or flats? Neither option is better than the other, but the decisions you make will cause people to make snap judgement about you. How do you want people to perceive you?

Put on a happy face

Cheesy grins all round please!

It sounds silly but bear with me. Look at your work and smile. How do you feel? OK, look at another piece of your work and frown. Now how do you feel? The brain is trained to think that when you smile you’re happy and when you frown you’re not. Now I ain’t no scientist but I do know that smiling makes you feel good! What you need to do is associate your work with those warm n fuzzy feelings.

“When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be because they take better care of it there” – Cecil Selig

Over time, if you smile smile smile (yes, even if you don’t feel it inside) you will essentially trick your brain into thinking happy thoughts. Sounds ridiculous but it works!

Push yourself

Like many girls, I had a hard time adjusting while growing up. My confidence was at and all time low and I felt pretty worthless for a long long time.

So how did I get from that awkward teenager/young adult to the confident woman (!) who purposely puts herself in the public eye, that you see today?

Affirmations baby.

If, on a daily basis you put yourself down or think that you’re no good, how are you ever going to think anything else? Somebody once told me that everyday I should look in the mirror and tell myself that I was beautiful, that I was worthwhile and that I mattered. Oh gosh believe me this is not an easy thing to do! It sounds totally ridiculous and you do feel weird doing it to begin with, but it gives the same result as the ‘putting on a happy face’ thing.

If you replace telling yourself that you’re worthless with telling yourself that you’re worth something you will eventally begin to believe it. These days I don’t have to stand in front of a mirror to do this but knowing this technique and how powerful it can be is something I’ll never forget.

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway” – Mary Kay Ash

I know what you’re thinking… “but if I do that and get over confident people will think I’m a dick.” Well firstly no they won’t! There’s a vast difference between believing in yourself and your work and allowing your potential to be set free by self belief, than thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread or God’s gift to wedding photography/ flowers/ stationery/ blogging.

Being trapped in your own insecurities is far, far more detrimental to your success or progression as a business person.

Don’t wallow in being sad

I am a big advoate in surrounding yourself with positive influences. I’ve written about this before, and about how life-changing it was to take myself away from people with negative energy and replace them with positive people. This can be attributed to the confidence thing too. Let other people’s confidence rub off on you!

“If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you can not paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced” – Vincent Van Gogh

It’s easy to become absorbed by depressive feelings. In a weird way they can feel like a protective cloak shielding you from the big bad world. Why, for example, when we feel sad do we listen to depressing music? This is the worst thing we can do! Pump up some cheesy pop (or whatever it is that makes you feel good) and shake off that negativity! Again, you may feel silly to begin with but after a while you won’t be able to stop smiling!

Stop comparing yourself to others

OK embarrassing admission – the first day or so that I was hanging out in Vegas with Gala & Nubby I felt seriously un-confident next to them. I felt frumpy, fat, uncool and unstylish! They didn’t do anything to facilitate these feelings of course, it was just my own insecurities. However within a couple of days I realised that not only was I the only person thinking these things but hey, these super cool, lovely and stylish girls wanted to hang out with me. They liked me for who I was. Their positive vibes certainly rubbed off on me and I’m now feeling a hell of a lot better for it (thank you girls!)

“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

Stop trying to impress everyone

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was that you can’t please everyone so don’t waste your time trying. Once I allowed myself to be OK with the fact that not everyone was going to like me I felt instantly free! It’s absolutely fine that by putting myself out there not everyone will like me or agree with my way of working. I don’t like everyone that’s out there either do I?!

I also realised that while some people won’t like me, there are others that really do. Those are the people that matter.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

Find a mentor

At the end of the day no one can hand confidence to you on plate but something I found incredibly useful was having Gareth there to support me. He calls me out when I’m being a dufus and congratulates me when I do something ace. It’s soooo easy to focus on the negative and forget all the positive things you’ve achieved isn’t it? Having someone there to remind you of them is utterly amazing.

I know that Gareth is 100% honest with me and so I know his opinion is one stemmed from truth and love. Getting his feedback on things is so vital to me (in fact he proof reads all of my blog posts before I publish them!), as I know if he says something is good, even if I think it’s not that great, that it must be alright!

Often our own insecruties get in the way of seeing things as they really are and stop us from recognising our achievements. To me, there is nothing more important that self-belief and love. If you don’t love yourself, how on earth is anybody else going to?

All images from ‘W’ Magazine, Korea, March 2012