How to increase our self-esteem and develop a healthier and stronger relationship with ourselves?
Patrycja Skurzak is a life coach and an expert in confidence building. She specializes in human development and helps people unlock their potential and dream big. In our podcast with her, we are going to learn how to unlock and build our confidence, do the things that we want to do in life.
What is the root of self-belief and where it comes from?
Confidence is shaped by so many different factors in our lives. It can be influenced by our upbringing, the kind of role models we’ve had in our lives, the way we were rewarded for our efforts at school, the challenges we were exposed to in life and how we’ve learned to overcome them.
Everything affects the level of our confidence we are shaping throughout life. Confidence comes from your life experience and is shaped by the environments we were/are exposed to; including the people we were surrounded with, the events and situations we were exposed to. Everything has a huge importance on the level of confidence. It also comes from our childhood.
The most important part of our life is when we are growing up. Because at that point we can’t really control our thoughts, behaviors or our environment. We are growing in the environment we were born in, it shapes the way we are. Once we grow up, we start to understand how perhaps things were passed to you and how your upbringing affected your personality.
Why do you think it’s important to be self-confident?
Confidence or lack of it affects almost everything we do in life, it shapes our definition of success and how ambitious we are in our professional as well as personal life. It affects our relationships with people and most importantly, the relationship we have with ourselves. It affects our opportunities and our sense of fulfillment.
Confidence is one of the most powerful tools in overcoming life challenges and achieving our most ambitious goals.
Inner confidence can make us stronger, more successful, fulfilled and happy in life -Patrycja Skurzak.
It can affect your life on an individual level such as career or personal such as self-belief, self-love, and self-acceptance.
When we are young we easily believe in ourselves, but as adults, we can lose a little bit of it sometimes. Can we relearn it as a skill?
Confidence is a learnable skill. People born with confidence is a myth. It is true that some people growing up in those environments that were more challenging developed a higher level of confidence but it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn how to be confident. We are in control of our actions. We are in control of our behaviors and we are in control of the choices we make in life.
For example, we can choose whether we want to be surrounded by people who support us and believe in us, and who are perhaps even championing us to do great things in life, to be ambitious and stretch ourselves or those who are afraid themselves to take risky decisions and project negative energy.
Confidence is a choice that can allow you to flourish.
There are effective tools and methods that we can follow in order to master confidence. The good news is that it starts from within us. It’s a matter of mindset.
What does it feel like to be confident, what kind of feeling is that?
It starts from within. Physically confident means you are comfortable in your own skin. First and foremost, you are comfortable with who you are. That’s why we talk about self-acceptance as one of the faces of confidence. I’m accepting myself for who I am – for how I look, how I sound, I’m accepting my past, my present, my today’s choices and I’m comfortable with it. Your level of self-acceptance will affect how you are perceived in the world.
If you accept and respect who you are, people will do the same – they will accept and respect you.
Being confident feels stable and peaceful. You don’t doubt yourself, you don’t question your decisions, you don’t over think your actions. It’s the kind of stability that allows you to feel peaceful with yourself, free with who you are and this is such a beautiful space to be in life.
One of the most effective tools in developing a high level of confidence is to constantly challenge yourself. Accept that it will never be a comfortable process – and that’s ok.
Building confidence really is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.
The more uncomfortable and challenging it is, the sooner you see your confidence boosting. The best way to start this process is to understand your fears inside out. Be aware of what scares you in life and then develop a plan of action to gradually overcome those fears. That’s how you grow your confidence, outside of your comfort zone, when you prove to yourself that what you once thought “you can’t” is actually possible.
Sometimes people who believe in themselves can be seen or perceived as arrogant or with a lot of ego. How can we not be perceived in that way?
There are two kinds of people: those who feel confident and, and those who are confident. The first group of people who feel confident source their confidence from external factors, such as specific situations, approvals of others, validation, compliments etc. Their confidence is dependent on those external factors. Often people who only feel confident in specific situations (ego pleasing) are seen as arrogant. I see it as a technique to hide certain insecurities within you, which is almost the opposite of confidence.
The other group of people, they are confident regardless of the circumstances and opinions. Their confidence comes from within, not from outside. They have inner belief. They don’t need to show anything off or prove anything to anyone in order to feel good. You must have that deep self-belief in who you are, in order to project your inner confidence without making any efforts.
Does it have something to do with being an introvert or extrovert or not?
Both introverts and extroverts can be confident and it’s not about your personality traits.
This is just the energy people represent. This energy may help or affect the way you project your confidence, but it doesn’t really limit your chances of becoming more confident. It is more about that inner belief. Introvert and extroverts can have that inner belief in themselves. They are just going to represent it in a different way.
To say that you are an introvert and therefore you cannot be as confident as other people is a classic limiting belief. It prevents you from looking for ways to build confidence in yourself. You stop at the moment you excuse yourself by saying ‘I am shy’ or ‘I’m an introvert’. It’s not because you’re not a loud person that you won’t be able to make an impact, it’s because you already assumed and believed that you won’t make that impact.
Everything that we do in life is based on our system of beliefs.
Henry Ford said “whether you say you can or you can’t, you’re right either way”. So if you believe that you can do something, you shall do that. If you convince yourself that you can’t do something like public speaking, for example, you disqualify yourself before even trying. It’s important to identify what are your limiting beliefs. Why are they currently stopping you from building confidence, and assess their impact on your confidence level.
What can we actually do to work on your confidence and challenge yourself?
It starts with the mindset and the core belief that “you are enough”.
Once a healthy mindset is in place then you need to act. You need to put your sleeves up, get on the ground and do the work. Confidence won’t grow at home, you need to put yourself out there and test it.
#1 First, work on your mindset.
Develop a positive mindset that you can learn to be confident. You need to develop a new habit. Nourish it every day. This includes gratitude and self-recognition.
- You can practice gratitude every day. For example, start your day with thinking of / saying out loud 10 things you are grateful in life (e.g. people, experiences, things, your traits of character etc.); Another way of practicing gratitude is to make a jar of things you are grateful for every day. Start collecting those things on a piece of paper, then read them all once a week as a reminder! Practice appreciation of your life and your experiences. Practice appreciation of your strengths and skills and your unique qualities.
- You can practice self-recognition and self-love. You will gradually stop looking for validation from others, you will increase your self-belief and start trusting yourself more. In order to do that, you first need to get rid of your saboteur’s voice, the so-called self-critic that often takes too much space in your head. Don’t focus on the things that you don’t like about yourself or don’t do well. Instead, train your mind to constantly recognize things you do well in life. Things you try to improve, things that you are proud of (small of big). Start tracking your personal achievements and don’t forget to celebrate them!
“When you celebrate, endorphins are released inside your body and you feel incredible. When you accomplish something and don’t take the time to celebrate, you are robbing yourself of an important feeling that reinforces your success. Celebrating your wins not only feels great physically, but it reinforces the behavior you want to show up when you face a new challenge or opportunity.” – Bill Carmody
#2 The next step is to act.
This is where the real work happens, outside of your comfort zone. Remember that you will need a solid plan here, plan to overcome your fears. You don’t want to lose all your motivation by setting up unrealistic goals from the start, that’s why it is important to take the following steps:
- Get clear on what is it that really scares you. What are you afraid of doing? These are normally the things that we wish we “could do”, and the ways we wish we “could be”; Be specific here, for example: talking to strangers, starting a conversation, public speaking, giving someone a compliment, telling someone that you like them, asking a question at the Q&A’s, attending a networking event, traveling to a new country on your own etc.);
- Know what sits outside of your comfort zone. Pick top 3 fears that you wish to work on and develop a solid and detailed plan on how to gradually overcome those fears;
- Do the things that scare you. Remember that the only way to overcome those fears will always be by “facing them”, in other words by “doing the things that scare you”;
- What’s the trick? You need to overcome those fears gradually – not all at once and not by jumping into deep waters from a start (even though this may work for some people too); My advice is to make a plan that is doable, realistic, and fun;
#3 Finally, think of your body language.
Think about how your tone of voice, your eye contact, posture, your appearance, the way you speak – how these nonverbal cues project your confidence / or lack of it.
Deborah Gruenfeld says that ”the vast majority of social meaning, the meaning that people take away from their interaction with you comes from physical ways of behaving and nonverbal behaviors that most of us are almost never thinking about at all. […] Look at the impact of how we use our voices or the very subtle nonverbal cues: the way we use our eyes, the way we stand, the types of gestures that we use and what you’ll find over and over again in the research is that your words account for only 10% or less of the variance in the impressions that people form.” D. Gruenfeld
I also suggest watching these videos:
Caroline Goyder “Speaking with more confidence” on Youtube here.
Amy Cuddy “Your body language may shape who you are” on Youtube here.
Deborah Gruenfeld “Acting with power”
Deborah Gruenfeld “Mastering Body Language in Group Settings”
What are the common issues linked to confidence?
What I often see in my coaching practice is that the majority of my clients are classical experts in seeing the things they don’t like about themselves. Things they are not good at, things they want to fix about themselves. When I ask them about their strengths, top skills or special talents, they struggle.
The challenge here is to change that default habit. This is essentially very destructive to your self-esteem and confidence. During the coaching process, we work on developing a new habit of seeing, recognizing and learning to own your strengths, skills and other “superpowers”. As a result, you build a strong self-belief. So you can project that with power and conviction in your everyday life.
We work on expanding your potential, embracing who you already are and daring to be more.
We look into your past and talk about the things that you did well, we analyze the things that you were once proud of, we learn to pay attention to the things other people compliment you on.
I ask all of my clients to complete a simple exercise, I call it the Confidence Toolkit. It collects all powerful and positive facts about you, often dismissed by our subconscious brain (especially when self-critic was too dominant for most of your life); List 10 things that:
- You are proud of in your life, these are your own personal or professional achievements
- Ask yourself why did they make you proud?
- You are grateful for in life, think of people, experiences, things etc.;
- You love about yourself and ask yourself why;
- Compliments you’ve recently received from your friends, family members, strangers, colleagues;
Last question, what’s the easiest tip to improve and maintain your wellbeing?
Being aware of your personal values, in other words, knowing what is important for you in life and making sure these values are being honored on an every-day basis.
Do the things that you love, things that bring you joy and energy in life, things that lift you up.
For me, helping others, connecting with nature and dancing bring me ultimate fulfillment and I make sure I have enough of that in my life!