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Diahanne Rhiney's picture
Diahanne Rhiney
Dealing with a crisis of confidence

SOMETIMES LIFE will throw something at you, like losing a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or discovering that things haven’t been as you thought they were.

These are the things that cause you to question your decisions, your judgement even your values. Suddenly every area of your life is challenged or compromised. This is what a crisis of confidence does.

It stops you in your tracks, pulls the rug of everything you were confident in out from under you and makes you doubt everything you do or have done in your past. It is as if your personal landscape involving meaning has changed, which in turn takes away your ability to trust your own thoughts and feelings. This then makes room for the negative belief that you’re simply not good enough to deal with life in general.

So how does this crisis of confidence occur? I would say that this is something that affects everyone as we transition through various stages of life.

You may have gone through a stressful or challenging time and a negative incident happens that feels like “the straw that broke the camels back”. It may or may not be a big event, but nevertheless it becomes your tipping point.

Before you know it, your normally confident attitude plunges into self-doubt and anxiety. This crisis in confidence usually leaves you feeling disoriented at best and frightened at worst. In most cases you are left feeling negative or shameful.

The negative narrative will convince you that you are a failure or inadequate and you begin to lose faith in yourself. You may find you are constantly self-critical, or holding yourself to unrealistic high standards.

When this occurs, try to look at the evidence in your life that counters the negative expectations of yourself, or the internal pressures to be someone you’re not.

In other words, try and discover your successes, or the things you achieved that were good enough. Then reframe your negative beliefs and thoughts along more positive, compassionate and realistic lines.

When you have a confidence crisis, don't despair, instead, start to use some of these confidence-boosting techniques:

Give yourself permission to regain confidence

Remind yourself who you really are - a person of integrity and worth. Remember what you appreciate about yourself and get in touch with your ethics and principles and what you believe. Recall the positive feedback you have received from people who care about you and whose opinions you respect. Try and reconnect with your passions and dreams and if they have changed create an updated version that reflects the new you.

Change your language

The language you use can profoundly affect your mood and belief in yourself. This is an area that you can control by talking to yourself using positive statements such as “this is a temporary setback”; “I’ve had many more successes and better times than the pain and doubt that’s happening now”

Forgive yourself

The ability to accept and forgive yourself, combined with compassion for the distress you are experiencing are pivotal turning points for successfully dealing with a crisis in confidence, and regaining faith in yourself.

Evaluate Your Relationships

Assess the relationships in your life. Do they support or sabotage you? All relationships change with time; some get better, some get worse. If you have relationships in your life that are more of a burden than a joy, it may be time to sever your ties - or at least loosen the reins. Identify people that have the qualities you admire - people you feel you could learn from and who could learn from you, as well. Additionally, look at starting new relationships with people you can have fun with, as boosting your confidence can be really fun too.

Seek professional help

Some people may be more vulnerable to a crisis in confidence than others. If you grew up in an environment that was devaluing or unsupportive or if you find yourself drawn to people who neglect or abuse you, consider connecting with a counsellor who can provide additional support to build your strength and draw healthier lines around your relationships.

The crucial thing is once you recognise the signs of this type of crisis in confidence, you are better placed to deal with it when the time comes. It is also important to understand what you have learnt about yourself and what changes you may need to make in your life or relationships. Try to establish what made you so vulnerable in the first instance and what you could do to build yourself up? Perhaps, there is an underlying need that is not being met. For example, the need for love, companionship, validation, rewards or understanding. If this is the case, maybe you need to look at a career change or consider changing the company you keep. If you spend time with people who don’t understand or appreciate you, criticise you, or lack shared interests, you can end up feeling insecure and invalidated. This will eventually erode your confidence over time. It may be best to step back and redirect your focus on finding new relationships where you can share common bonds and mutual appreciation.

The good news is a crisis in confidence can rock you to your core, but ultimately, it is something that is learnt and developed. A loss of confidence does not need to be a permanent state. Through positive change and by breaking old habits and adopting new productive ones, we can learn to boost our self-esteem and confidence to overcome negative experiences.

Follow Diahanne on Twitter: @diahanneuk

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