Every parent wants nothing more than for their kids to be healthy, happy, and confident in themselves. As a new mom, I’ve quizzed lots of friends about to teach self-confidence. The consensus? It’s nearly impossible to raise a confident child if you don’t believe in yourself.
Although it might sound simple, I’ve found building self-confidence to be one of the toughest challenges of my adult life. When my inner critic (or a rude outer critic) pipes up, I remind myself of the golden rule of self-confidence: Compare your current self to where you’ve been, not where you want to go. By doing so, you’ll remind yourself of all the great, confidence-building things you’ve achieved. A decade ago, for instance, I’d never have thought that Fortune 100 firms would invite me to speak at their events. Now, I’m getting booked as a top guest speaker by conferences and executives who feel my expertise can truly help them. Best of all, I’ve given my son a front-row seat to watch his mom live out her dreams of speaking on giant stages — no matter how many doubts the voices in my head have. Had I not learned to believe in myself, neither my son nor I would be so lucky. To build your own self-confidence:
- Surround yourself with people who challenge you.
In order to do this, first take a step back and ask yourself what a friend who challenges you looks like. Friends who challenge you are honest — even and especially when you don’t want to hear the truth. These friends will pick your mind, push you to branch out, and bring new opportunities to your attention. Collect and cherish them.
- Think positive; act positive.
Actions may speak louder than words, but it’s your mindset that moves mountains. To overcome the tough things in life, start by appreciating what you already have. Then, consider how those existing assets and skills can get you closer to your goals. Doing so will put your challenges in perspective, show you a path forward, and help you keep that positive mindset. This is particularly important for new parents who find themselves with far fewer “working” hours in a given week.
- Visualize your success.
Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? More importantly, why do you want to be there, and how do you plan on getting there? Keep a journal of these goals, and be as specific as you can. What signs of success will you watch for? What short-term goals might you use to help you reach your larger ones?
- Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.
Is it good to listen to others’ opinions and advice? Of course. However, it’s equally important to realize that you can’t make everyone happy. If someone doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing, don’t let it get you down. Take what they have to say into consideration, but keep pushing toward your goals. Putting yourself and your interests first isn’t selfish; it’s life-preservation, and it’s one of parents’ most valuable skills.
- Just breathe. And then drink some water. I know many of us don’t need to be reminded of our human needs, but don't be afraid to learn about anxiety and how it can affect you. Rather than turn to self-medication or destructive behavior, make time for the needs of yourself and your family. I often find that I get dehydrated when I’m dealing with stressful situations. And whether I’m having a great day or a crazy day, there’s nothing better than coming home to hang out with my son and husband. Don’t get so stressed that you forget about what actually matters.
These five tips have helped me hit my stride, but they’ve also given my son a model for his own growth. Whether he wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps or not, he’ll be better positioned than I was to take control of whatever stage he chooses.