I recently collaborated with stylist, Belinda Alexander, to run a Success Lunch for women, raising money for Smartworks, Newcastle, and exploring the issues of inner vs outer confidence. 

Belinda and our makeover model (client Chris Pentney from Sharper Than) demonstrated beautifully how a good hairstyle, makeup and well-fitting clothing can help us not only to appear more outwardly confident, but also to feel more confident.

My focus at the event was on this feeling.  On our inner confidence.  

Because for most of us, the outward appearance of confidence and looking great will move the needle a little (and sometimes a lot), but our overall setpoint will always be limited by how confident we feel on the inside. Which means when we can improve our inner confidence setpoint, and combine this with our outer score, we can truly turbocharge our confidence levels, resetting the needle at a much higher point!

So if paying attention to our hair, makeup and clothing all contribute to outer confidence, what contributes to inner confidence?  What creates the conditions for us to do what we’re truly capable of? To fulfil our potential?

3 Keys to Exploring and Improving Your Inner Confidence

If you’ve known me for a while, none of this will come as a surprise to you, yet if you often lack confidence I humbly suggest you read this again!

1. Pay Attention

Notice what goes on in your head. The thoughts that you say to yourself on a regular basis or as you put yourself in a new situation.  A lot of these thoughts are likely to come from a need to be liked and to be accepted. And there's also often an underlying fear of what people will think.

Now when I say notice your thoughts, I realise you're not going to be able to do this all the time. But as you get good at this, you're going to notice things much more easily. And, particularly as you tackle something new, you’ll start to notice whether your thoughts are serving you and are helpful, or whether for example you're putting yourself down, and they're making you feel bad. 

2.  Be Kind and Compassionate With Yourself

Because we are often hard on ourselves, it’s important, when you do notice negative thoughts and feelings, to be kind and compassionate with yourself.  To simply acknowledge where you are and what you’ve been saying to yourself. And to recognise this doesn’t mean you need to continue to attach to your negative thoughts, that you need to carry on thinking those thoughts and feeling those feelings.  Which leads me onto key 3.

3.  Recognise You Always Have a Choice

Because once you notice your thoughts, and you bring them into your conscious awareness, you have a choice. A choice point.  Every single time you notice, you have a choice of what to do with that awareness. 

If you are kind and compassionate with yourself at that point, you won’t go down that rabbit hole of thinking “What is it about me that always has me putting myself down?’  “ Why do I keep doing this?” Because that gets you nowhere!

You can simply acknowledge where you are and say something like “That's really interesting. I didn't realise I said those things so often.”  “Maybe I can be my own best friend now.” And you can think about what you would say to a really good friend or someone you love and care about. 

What other choices do you have? 

You can pause and think a better thought, or you can do something physical to get yourself out of that thought pattern. Simply breathing deeply, standing up and stretching or moving your body can all help because they change your physiology.

And it’s worth pointing out here that everyone lacks confidence sometimes.  It occurs predominantly when we're doing something new or thinking about stretching ourselves.  We all feel uncomfortable and lacking in confidence to some degree (depending on personality, our experiences, thoughts and beliefs). But I want you to understand that the only difference is that those with more inner, self confidence, simply act regardless of how they feel or what they’re thinking in the moment.

And in those moments, it might not even be a case of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’ as Susan Jeffers advocated.  Because when we can get out of our head and connect more to our heart and soul, we can recalibrate to our inner sense of peace and well-being, where we're fine.  We're resilient. Okay. Courageous.

Which means when you can feel like this at your choice point, you’ll be creating the future you want. Because your future is only ever created in the present moment. 

All 3 of these keys will bring you right back into the present. And when you are fully present, and you can tap into that wonderful feeling of well-being, then you automatically tap into your inner confidence. And when you feel more confident inwardly you will appear more confident outwardly (regardless of what you’re wearing).

I urge you to have fun with this.  To experiment and be playful. And you’ll feel your inner confidence shift.

If you like this article please check out my book Stepping into Success: The 7 Essential Moves to Bring your Business to Life