Confidence - what it is, how we can all lose it sometimes and a few things you can do to feel more of it, more of the time!

Posted on: 29/03/2021

A guest post by Mary Ely, Business and Personal Change Specialist and Coach in Residence for the Women in Innovation Programme.


Confidence is that beautiful feeling when you know that whatever happens, you’ll be ok, you’ll handle it, you’ll cope. Even if things don’t go to plan.

When we’ve got it, we don’t notice it. We just get on with things.

It’s the not having it that’s the issue.

We were all born confident, so how do we lose it? 

As a kid when you decided to take control of feeding yourself, you probably missed your mouth a lot. Ending up with food in your ear, up your nose, on the floor – mostly anywhere other than in your mouth.

But you weren’t hampered by feeling unconfident about your ability to feed yourself. You just had another go.

The difference then was that you were in blissful ignorance of any potential negative consequences or feedback and that’s what starts to erode our confidence. We notice and begin to focus on the potential negative consequences that need to be avoided, rather than just having a go and dealing with whatever happens.

What can you do to increase confidence? 

Our minds are like massive computers, programmed with everything we have learnt and experienced to date. When we are faced with, or even just imagine, a situation, our minds process the information and add meaning. For example, we may decide the situation is easy or scary. And our bodies and our emotions respond accordingly.
We won’t feel confident if our programming includes memories of negative results or feedback in similar situations before. We are likely to associate the situation with fear, and generally fear of:
  • Being judged badly
  • Failure
  • Rejection
  • Not being enough in some way
  • Being found out

This meaning/feeling/body link is what I call The Magic Triad. Change one and the other two change. Together they impact how we act, and in this case, that means acting with or without confidence.

Coaching can help you reclaim the confident you and The Magic Triad gives you 3 ways to feel more confident in the moment.

Change how you feel in an instant by vividly remembering a time when you felt completely confident.

Really imagine being there as if you’re looking through your own eyes (close your eyes if it’s easier or gaze into space). Ask yourself what’s happening? What are you seeing, hearing and saying to yourself? … and notice how you begin to feel confident.

To increase the feeling, play with the qualities of the pictures in your head. Perhaps turn the brightness up or make the picture bigger.

As you do, you’ll notice your body posture change: shoulders back, chest out, chin up. An overall expansive posture that’s associated with confidence.

Challenge the meaning you’re associating with the event.

What do you say to yourself when you feel unconfident? I’m rubbish, I’m going to look stupid, I can’t do it?

And what could you say to yourself to combat that and reclaim your confidence?

It can be useful to create an image of your unhelpful inner voice and think about what you’d say if they were real. Perhaps they’re:

  • An annoying critical troll type thing whose opinion you just need to disregard or ignore
  • An over-zealous protector
  • A scared little child

What reassurance or persuasion might it need to stay quiet?

Here are a few other suggestions for what you might say to yourself instead:

  • What you say to yourself when you are feeling confident.
  • What a deeply confident person would say in this situation.
  • Whatever happens I’ll cope. I’ll be ok.
  • I’ve dealt with tougher things than this before.
  • Just have a go!

To apply it:

  • Imagine your trigger situation when you feel unconfident.
  • Notice the unhelpful inner voice.
  • In your head, shout STOP.
  • Repeat your new phrase(s) over again to block out the negative voice.
  • Keep going and repeat often and you’ll begin to feel more confident.

Change what you do with your body 

Think of your situation and get into the confident posture described above – chest out etc. Or copy your favourite ‘winner’ or ‘super-hero’ stance.

Stay like that for a couple of minutes and notice how just doing this, makes you feel more confident.

So why don’t you give The Magic Triad a go?

Interested to see the full KTN Confidence webinar and be guided through the exercises? Watch the recording below!


In June 2020, the Women in Innovation Programme awarded 18 women with monthly pro bono coaching sessions. Due to the success of the pilot programme, the coaching team have agreed to an ongoing special coaching package of 33% off their normal rates for a limited number of women within the Women in Innovation community. Find out more here.

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