A few days ago at a speed mentoring event, organized by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (MD FAWL), I spoke with a number of law students who shared with me that one of their biggest challenges was not feeling confident. One student in particular explained that this was one of the things that she felt was holding her back the most. Not only did it prevent her from speaking up, but it also made her not want to reach out to people and network because she didn’t feel that she had much to contribute to others.

But here is the thing, your feelings of self-confidence and self-worth, coupled with the state of your mindset (or your attitude about life), are the most important aspects when it comes to achieving success.

So it’s a combination of things: believing that the world supports you in your pursuit of success (whatever that means to you) and having a deep internal conviction that you are worth it and can have it.

And yet it’s your self-confidence – that internal belief that you are in fact worthy, that you got what it takes, that you have an intrinsic value that does not get changed or diminished no matter what happens in your life (your perceived successes or failures) – that determines whether you remain successful.

Otherwise, no matter what you achieve, how much money you make, what professional heights you reach, it won’t last and you’ll just find a way to self-sabotage it.

How Can You Tell if You Struggle with Self-confidence?

Chances are you do, if any of these resonate with you:

  • Being a people pleaser or not setting personal boundaries with other people

  • Avoiding speaking in public or tending to speak in a quiet low voice

  • Shying away from expressing your opinions

  • Being afraid of trying new things or taking on challenges

  • Hesitating to ask for what you want or need

  • Doubting your capabilities

  • Dwelling on the past and holding on to negative emotions

  • Beating yourself up and engaging in negative self-talk

  • Being indecisive and not trusting your own judgment

  • Feeling jealous or resentful towards successful people

  • Purposefully self-sabotaging your success

  • Demanding constant external validation and fearing rejection

  • Being overly focused on physical appearance and physical flaws

Found a few that apply to you? What can you do about it?

Here are 3 things to get you started:

1. Tell Those Negative, Doubting, Questioning Thoughts to “Lock It Up”

The average person has around 60,000 thoughts every day and 80 percent of them are negative. This translates into almost 50,000 negative thoughts a day that need constant filtering. Lawyers are undoubtedly plagued by thoughts like these on a daily basis: “Am I right about this?” “What am I doing???” “Do I really have what it takes?

The truth is these thoughts have a purpose. They are typically fear-driven and they are designed to keep you safe, so they’ll just keep popping up any time your mind perceives you approaching danger (whether it’s real danger or imagined).

So here is the trick: realize that you may not be able to stop negative thoughts from entering your mind but you can decide which thoughts you choose to believe. Practice self-awareness. Ask yourself some probing questions: “What makes me think that?” “What’s my proof?” “What if that were to happen, what would be the absolute worst thing about that?

Fear thrives in the unknown. Take the time to paint the picture and make that scary future more concrete. In this case, if these challenges are real and not imagined, then you’ll be able to come up with real solutions.

2. Practice Your Risk-Taking Skills

Wikipedia says that the comfort zone otherwise known as “Corley Syndrome” is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.

The really scary part about your comfort zone is this: it never stays the same. It’s either expanding or shrinking. So if you stay within your comfort zone, it will start to shrink and become smaller. In essence, you will start feeling less and less confident, even about things that you used to feel confident about. But if you step outside your comfort zone on a regular basis, it will expand.

Avoid getting trapped inside a shrinking comfort zone by doing things that scare you. Risk-taking is a skill that must be practiced. Do it methodically and with a purpose. Jumping off of a building might feel like the ultimate risk-taking exercise, less dramatic options, such as speaking up in public, can be excellent ways to expand your comfort zone.

3. Step Outside of Yourself

A few years ago, one of my mentors told me something that I really did not want to hear. She said,

You know, it’s really not always all about you.

I was going on and on about a situation I was dealing with at the time, seeking her support and confirmation that I was right. I was so taken aback by her response and, frankly, really pissed off.

Sometime later I realized that, of course, she was right. It’s not always all about us. But it sure feels that way, doesn’t it? We focus so much on our own perceptions, forgetting that they are really just our interpretations of what we believe to be true, and not the actual objective reality. As a result, we focus on our failed expectations, on what we don’t have, what’s lacking, and what’s not working, thereby becoming even more self-conscious.

One of my favorite exercises to get out of the pity party is the 10 Things I’m Grateful For. Here is how to play:

Start each day realizing that the majority of the people on this planet do not have the opportunities you do. Then list out 10 things that you are feeling grateful for in that moment. They can be grand or abstract things, like sunshine or the air we breathe, or those small or random things that only you can appreciate, like the way you feel when you get to relax in your favorite spot at home.

This will help you be less focused on your own flaws or failures, because it will be about something or someone else besides you. This will also boost your self-confidence and help you to contribute to creating a happy, positive, and confident environment around you.

And remember, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”

To your incredible success,

P.S. Be sure to leave a comment below and share your favorite confidence boosting techniques. We’d love to hear from you.  Also, if you think that someone you know might find this useful, share this article with them. Sharing IS caring!