Welcome to our new series, The Confidence Collection! There’s not a single person on the planet who hasn’t suffered a crisis of confidence at one point or another (TRUST us!) and we’re DONE with it because we all deserve to feel beautiful, sexy and confident every damn day. SO, we present The Confidence Collection, brought to you by our pals at Capsule. We’ll be covering all areas of self-belief in all areas of life – dating, work, relationships, beauty and personal growth – with practical advice, words of wisdom from women who have seen it, lived it and conquered it, and everything in between. In our first edition, we tackle the BIG one – imposter syndrome.
When it comes to what affects our confidence, we may think that it’s the outside factors that affect us the most – a new job, a new relationship, a new life twist… heck, even a new pandemic. But in fact, the call is often coming from inside the house, says Ruth Jillings, Registered Psychologist.
“Knowledge is power,” Ruth says. “A lot of what we think is just negative chatter – and we don’t need to listen to that. You wouldn’t listen to it from a friend or a colleague, you shouldn’t have to listen to someone constantly undermining you. So you shouldn’t have to listen to it from yourself, either.”
How To Fight Back Against Imposter Syndrome & Self-Doubt
When it comes to people facing ‘Imposter syndrome’ at work, it’s a real buzz word – and one that seems to be more frequently associated with the workplace. But the truth is, we can often lack confidence in many areas of our life and Ruth says there are key ways to help reduce those insecure feelings.
1. Acknowledge That It’s Very Common…
“If you look at biographies or writings from many, many successful people – including the likes of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton and Helen Clark – who have overtly had massive success and they all talk about their experience with imposter syndrome,” Ruth says. “The difference is, of course, that they talk about it with that beautiful buffer of being successful, so it’s easy for them to be vulnerable and talk about it! But it is helpful to know that it’s a construct that others have also felt, so you don’t feel like you’re alone in that.”
2. …And That It’s A Construct
“It’s important to feel our feelings and acknowledge what’s there. You can acknowledge that ‘I feel pushed out of my comfort zone, I feel some vulnerability, I feel some questions around can I do it?’ But imposter syndrome can also be when we fall into the myth of thinking what we feel is true. And what we feel is frequently not true! And imposter syndrome is just a feeling.”
3. Hold The Line
“My best advice is just to keep going – hold the line, stay out of your comfort zone and keep going,” Ruth says. Because one of the strongest ways to beat imposter syndrome is to get more experience in the thing you feel new and inexperienced at. “You can also reframe and change your narrative, which is to say ‘Of course I feel out of my comfort zone – I haven’t done this before and this role is challenging me!’ And that’s okay!”
How To Gain Confidence In Planning Things Again
Now that we are in the second half of the pandemic (Please, God), there’s a strange mental juggle where there is suddenly an opportunity to make plans again. For people who have been waiting with baited breath for the borders to open or the social calendar to be filled again, this is a dream time. But if you’re an anxious person – or your introvert status has increased during the past two years – you might be feeling a bit fearful about scheduling things again.
1. Start small
“Our confidence muscle does atrophy – it’s definitely a ‘use it or lose it’ thing,’” Ruth says. “I would say: start small and build up gently. Acknowledge that it does feel difficult – all of us are having to live with a greater sense of uncertainty in our future, because anyone of us now knows that you could make plans with someone and they could get sick, you could get sick, things can be cancelled at the last minute. So we all need to become more comfortable living with uncertainty and it’s about forging on anyway.”
2. Anticipate the Good Times
Remember anticipation? She feels like a pre-2020 emotion after so long of no scheduling and Ruth says it’s key to remember that good times are a) possible and b) likely. “When people are out of practise at making plans, they forget how much fun it is. So they underestimate the bang for their buck – the reward for what making plans can be.”
The fact that so many of us are used to being home for so long can make that even trickier, Ruth says. “It’s warm and comfortable at home, and it’s cold and wet outside, and there’s that narrative we tell ourselves of ‘I don’t really need to see my friends, I talked to them a while ago.’ We genuinely underestimate how much we’ll enjoy it.
3. Understand How Anxiety Affects The Brain
On the flip side of our newfound ability to underestimate fun, our pandemic brains are now also battling another thing: anxiety. “One thing about anxiety – and you don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to feel a bit anxious – is that, across the board, it makes us overestimate the likelihood that bad things will happen,” Ruth says. “And it makes us underestimate the likelihood that we will cope.”
If you’ve tried scheduling something recently, that emotional circle might be very familiar to you. ‘I should try and book a weekend away!’ ‘Oh but what if I get sick? What if something goes wrong?’ ‘I’m already so frazzled, I don’t want to risk the disappointment so I’ll just stay home.’
A lot of us are in the process of having to rebuild our confidence muscle and – like all training – it’s a bit uncomfortable until it gets a bit stronger. “That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of your own chatter, of what you’re telling yourself over and over again when you feel anxious.”
Whether it’s a new situation, or you’re just trying to re-build your overall confidence after the past two years, it’s important to remember that it IS possible and that good times really are ahead. “It’s vital that we are careful about how we treat ourselves,” Ruth says. “We have to have compassion for how we’re feeling and acknowledge it, if we’re going to change it.”
- Kelly Bertrand, Author at Capsule NZ