The Art of Self-Confidence

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

128 comments

  1. I am coming on your course tomorrow and have had a total fail in confidence today. I have been chatting with a friend about how I feel quite anxious at meeting you and other bloggers, that Im not good enough and shouldn’t be going. Siiiiggghhh! Why do we do it to ourselves??

    I went on a business link course last year and when I arrived, everyone was in suits. I felt totally overwhelmed with insecurities and held back on asking questions as I was sure they would be ‘stupid questions’ and everyone would see I was a fraud! My lovely friend pointed out today that Im more of a rock n roll bride gal than a business link gal and so it will alllllll be fine!

    When anyone meets me they would say Im a confident strong woman (I have shiny bright red hair at the moment!) but I do have moments of self doubt, anxiety and fear. Thanks for showing that we all feel like that sometimes!

    See you tomorrow!

    Sam
    Timm Cleasby Photography

  2. Post author

    TJCPhotographer – i well i bet I’M crapping it more than you. i promise no suits, no stupid questions and no not feeling good about ourselves! we’re all in this together!!

  3. A brilliant post! Thank you! I’ve always had issues with confidence, but really been battling with it since I left a job after being bullied 3 and a half years ago. I think I’ll make myself a little confidence check list from all your advice and put it in my office so I see it every day!

    Looking forward to many more words of wisdom tomorrow at the workshop! See you in Sheffield!

  4. Thanks for writing this. It isn’t just pertinent to business but, to life in general. I needed to see, hear, read and memorize your message this week! Good luck with your seminar I know it will be great!

  5. Wow Kat! What wonderful words! I suffer from a total lack of confidence, am always pessimistic and know that this shows itself others even though I try to hide it.
    Reading this blog has opened my eyes and given me the much needed kick up the backside to sort myself out!
    Thank you so much.
    Colin
    X

  6. Great post Kat. It can be quite daunting to lay your soul on the line so to speak but it’s definitely worth being honest (and vulnerable!) too. The ‘stop comparing yourself to others’ part particularly resonates with me and I’m definitely guilty of that. If it helps when I met you at the Designer Vintage Wedding fair you seemed unflappable and full of optimism even if you were paddling like hell underneath!

  7. Here’s one of my favourites when I am feeling afraid.

    “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.

    It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous?

    Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

    We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

    And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

    As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

    Marianne Williamson

  8. Deer Donna

    Kat, I have been struggling with this in both my professional and personal life for years and now planning my wedding it has stopped me from doing things because of my feared not being cool enough for an awesome wedding photographer or a certain dress etc etc and it’s been horrible.

    This post gives me hope…. That I can get confidence where do desperately needed.

    I have a work meeting on Thursday which I am shitting myself about for no good reason but I think the women at it will look skinnier, hotter or better than me and it’s not even the industry for that crap anyway (I work in printing and design) so I don’t even know why I’m feeling so bad about it.

    Ugh, anyway I do hope to feel better about myself and I hope it happens soon koz I want my wedding to reflect my true self (I sooooo hear you on the outer appearance thing koz I have two full sleeves of tattoos and red hair, wear bright clothes so people expect confidence and I’ve been told many times I’m an extrovert with an awesome personality when the truth is every day I’m almost sick with nerves over stupid shit.)

    Luckily my fiancée is wonderful at helping me when I am freaking out over and outfit or my hair or something I’m going to say or do, but it’s still hard.

    Your post reminds me you are real and that’s what I’ve always liked about you Kat, it keeps me coming back here. For 90% of the time I’ve read rnr bride I haven’t even been planning a wedding, I just like coming here and like you as a person. Confident or not 😉

  9. Post author

    Deer Donna – people like you make my world go round. thank you. and as i said… “I also realised that while some people won’t like me, there are others that really do. Those are the people that matter.”

  10. Oh MY Word Kat!!! have you been in my brain recently?, I am going to save this and read it until I memorise every single word, I’m sat here reading this with tears in eyes as You really have described me and the negative, the one who has no confidence and looks around and sees everyone else doing bigger and better things and thinking why not me, I don’t compare myself but wonder why I never manage to succeed, My belief at the moment is I care to much others and not enough for myself…..TIME for CHANGE!!!

    thank you xxx

  11. This blog post came at the right time, I’ve just got back from a quick decision power walk haha to try make myself feel healthier inside & out. I get what you’re saying, it’s definitely ringing home with me, as I’m trying to build up my brand which is my creative alter ego.
    I smiled all the way through reading this btw 🙂

  12. Amy B

    Kat what an awesome post, it’s one I’m gonna bookmark for future bad days!
    Inspiring. Amy B x

  13. Great post! I totally recommend the faking confidence thing – I never pretend to be somebody I’m not, but I do pretend not to be scared. Nobody ever twigs that I’m naturally shy. In fact, I’ve been practising this for so long that I don’t even feel that shy any more…

  14. Emily Forrest

    Kat I love your blog – it is amazing, and I really love reading all your blog posts. Have never commented on one until now though randomly! I knew you were a nice person when I emailed you a few years ago and asked your advice about wedding hair and makeup and you sent me a really nice email back. It’s great that you are so friendly and really engage with your readers. I’m all married now (you actually blogged my wedding and I was boring everyone to death for months going on about how honoured I was, I think most people at work wanted to punch me haha) but I still read your blog most days and love following you on twitter and facebook as you are so funny and your posts are so interesting. I actually read your green room posts and your posts like this one with more interest than weddings now I am not planning a wedding which shows that even though you started out as a wedding blogger I think you have become so much more than that to so many people. Long live RNR Bride!! xxx

  15. What a great attitude, thanks for sharing – I find myself crippled by self-doubt on a regular basis, I will do my best to come round to this way of thinking!

  16. Lol..Phew…got away with that then!!!!
    Seriously well done with the post though Kat, its weird how we think peeps perceive us and how they actually do…I always assume people don’t like me and I have to force them to like me lol! and then when it appears they do like me…i have to point out all my bad points…what a weirdo I am!

  17. Brilliant post, thank you Kat. I’m totally split – about some things I seem confident on the outside but am quaking inside…about other things I seem diffident but am actually pretty confident in my abilities…not sure if that makes sense!

  18. Andrea

    ok, my problem with the whole daily affirmation thing is that forcing myself to say those things isn’t going to do anything if I still don’t believe them deep down. Just saying things over and over doesn’t make me believe them, in order to believe something I have to receive some sort of proof that it’s true because I’ve always thought that believing something without proof was called being delusional. If no one reacts to me as though I’m beautiful then what reason do I have to believe that I am?
    I don’t intend that as any sort of personal insult towards you and I’m not saying the things you suggested wouldn’t work for other people (people who don’t have depression) but I just can’t get my brain to work that way.

  19. Post author

    Andrea – at first you’ll feel silly and you won’t believe it but over time (and I’m talking months even years!) training yourself to say and think good things about yourself will make a difference. Believe me. You firstly have to WANT to feel better and then you have to work really hard to get there.its not easy but believe me if you really want it and really try, you’ll get there xx

  20. Jill

    Kat, I’m going to bookmark this post and look at it when I’m feeling down (okay, so pretty much all the time, then). You really said it! I’ve always felt kind of awkward, even as a kid, and I never seemed to grow out of it. In high school, I tried to shrug off my shyness by saying “screw it” and dressing in bright colors, crazy patterns, and letting my so-called freak flag fly…but that kind of wore off as an adult. Now, I’m always comparing myself to thinner friends, thinking negative thoughts, or inadvertently encouraging others to do the same. I really need to knock it off!

    Have you ever seen the show “How to Look Good Naked?” (the British one, not the Canadian one). Watching that made me feel so much more confident, because the host encourages women to think of themselves as beautiful no matter what instead of pushing them to get surgical alterations. For some reason, reading this post made me think of how much that show helped my self-image issues!

    Anyway, awesome blog. You really made my day! 🙂

  21. Right on! I adore you for just being you. You’re real, you’re fun and you can put up with ridiculous shenanigans like lugging garbage bags of costumes through a casino! Thanks for making Vegas five days I’ll never forget.

  22. I have to agree with Jo, I was a a tongue tied knobber when we met too Kat!!!
    I’ve been following your blog so long now that when we finally met in person I couldn’t find the words! It’s not often I can’t get my words out, usually they have to tell me to shut up 🙂
    Mind you I was quite frozen too!
    I’ve been thinking of this post ever since I read it… I think you touched a lot of people today. x

  23. Post author

    Regula – well same as Jo, you didn’t come across as tongue tied to me! You’re a fabulous girl you are!

  24. Vicky

    I read recently that ‘someone being really good at something doesn’t make you worse at it’ I have been trying to remember that to stop me comparing myself to other people all the time. Kat – this post is so inspirational to all of us as most of us ‘rock n roll brides’ have found that being ‘different’ has made us feel like outcasts at one point or another in our lives. This really is going to be my go-to message when I am feeling unconfident! Thanks for blogging about something so important!

  25. AAAAH you’re the BEST!!! i loved this. favorite quote: “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 looooove! you made my day. THANK YOU!

  26. For sheer awesomeness in the use of the term “knobber” in a blog and because it strikes me right between my geeky bespectacled eyes I have read this post through about a dozen times then bookmarked the page because I know I’ll need to again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

    Smile and the world smiles with you; fact. I’m always mindful of what goes on behind a smile though because behind mine is a bit of a quivering wreck who thinks she just doesn’t cut it a lot of the time. Odd as it is, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling this way. The response to this post should speak volumes of the way people perceive you – and you certainly do rock. Thank you x

  27. Wow! That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. I’ve just lost my 2 day a week day job… I’ve been with the company for 14 years, as a freelance size model… gulp! I was working for two companies but finished with one over a year ago to concentrate on starting a photography business. After doing some fabulous courses with the fantastic David McNeil, Jodie Chapman and Mike Garrard at The Trained Eye, I’m now raring to go but I do find myself comparing my work and always feel that it’s not good enough yet… when will it ever be? I’m on the whole a very positive person, usually very happy and always smiling, but the thought of not being able to pay the bills is scary.
    I’m on 4 weeks notice and am trying to find other fit work but after reading your article feel that I should just bloody well get on with something that gets me excited rather than just earns me money. Thanks Kat… look out!
    xxx

  28. All great and very helpful things to think about. I think I bug Jose pretty often with my low confidence levels… he’s always having to reassure me over and over for silly little things… I’ve gotta get my butt in gear and get over it! You’re like my Gala and Nubbby, Kat, I feel a bit uncool next to you, until I realize that I must be ok if I can hang with such a fab lady as yourself; it’s crazy how we can all perceive others so differently than they see themselves!

  29. Great words Kat. Been up in London today so only just had a chance to sit down and read through. How you present yourself, what you think and say, how you act towards others is so vitally important. In Mike Larson’s workshop last year he said that you can’t just flick a switch and be a good, understanding, grounded business person and totally different in your private life. We have to work on ourselves on a daily basis and that in turn will improve our little businesses too. Great seeing you grow. It’s been fun!

    PS must email you the photos from 4am the other night doing Jäger Bombs! LOL

  30. Lucy

    Confidence definitely comes from doing things that make you feel shit scared. That’s the secret, then you just get more brave to take on bigger things that still make you, shit scared!

    Especially with the net I think people vest too much into trying to emulate the way other girls look thinking it will be a quick fix into their confidence, but it doesn’t really work this way as you just end up feeling like you’re playing catch up.

    Wonderful post though lady 🙂 xxx

  31. This is the most brilliant and refreshing piece I have read in a long time. THANK YOU. You highlighted so many of the things i go through daily. People assume so much and if they took the time to get to know you they would have quite a shock, they would with me anyway!
    I have wasted years of my life worrying about others, people will always have their opinions, some good, some bad and some just dam right nasty, but sod em I say! xx

  32. This is the most brilliant and refreshing piece I have read in a long time. THANK YOU. You highlighted so many of the things i go through daily. People assume so much and if they took the time to get to know you they would have quite a shock, they would with me anyway!
    I have wasted years of my life worrying about others, people will always have their opinions, some good, some bad and some just dam right nasty, but sod em I say! xx

    You Star x

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