Dr Jessamy Hibberd is a Clinical Psychologist and mother of three who is embracing the digital world as part of her mission to make psychology more accessible. As well running her own private practice in Chelsea she has co-authored a series of self-help books, writes a blog, runs an Instagram account and is currently developing an App.
To celebrate International Women’s Day it felt appropriate to ask a woman who not only understands the challenges of juggling a career and family life but who also has plenty of professional experience helping adults overcome common mental health problems such as low self-esteem.
Confidence is essential in all aspects of our lives. It helps us reach our goals, try new things, make decisions and be independent. It enables us to manage stress and equips us to deal with emotional, practical and physical problems. It’s how we measure our ability to cope and to succeed. When we’re feeling confident, it makes everything easier. The trouble is that when confidence is proving elusive the opposite is true. So what can you do to capture and build your confidence?
1. No-one is confident all the time!
No-one feels confident all of the time. How confident you feel is on a continuum; you go up and down depending on what you’re doing, your mood and your experiences. Even the most confident people never feel totally ‘ready’ for something – they just get stuck in. Next time you want to do something remind yourself the ‘right’ time is unlikely to ever come. The best thing to do is to just get started and give it a go.
2. Be kind to yourself
If you have a constant negative commentary running through your mind, it’s going to leave you feeling upset, demotivated, useless and anything but confident. You’d never dream of speaking to a friend in the same way. Next time things are tough back yourself and think:
- What would I say to a friend in this situation?⠀
- How might I encourage them and help them through it?⠀
- Use this advice on yourself! There shouldn’t be two rules – that you deserve criticism, but that it wouldn’t be helpful for anyone else!
3. Step out of your comfort zone
It’s good to do things that mean you take a step out of your comfort zone. New experiences, new hobbies and challenging ourselves on a regular basis are massively important for maintaining good mental health, personal growth and improving confidence and self-esteem.
4. Confront anxious predictions
When you’re feeling under-confident, you’re more likely to predict the worst, “I can’t do it,” “it won’t go well”. If you listen to these predictions you’ll never take action and end up feeling worse. Next time you think you can’t – test it out by doing whatever you fear and seeing what happens! It’s only by moving past the discomfort of I can’t, that you get to see I can.
We tend to be good at having compassion for others, but not so good at being compassionate to ourselves. Many of us imagine it’s being weak, but when you think of the qualities it’s made up of it’s anything but. Compassion means being strong, non-judgemental, kind, brave, warm, fair and wise. Core ingredients for confidence!
6. Overcome procrastination
To overcome procrastination (a confidence killer!) you need to get more in touch with your future self. Make sure you’re really clear about why you want to do what you’re doing. How will it make things better for you in the future, why will you benefit? Make your goals really concrete and think about what you’ll gain if you do them.
7. Imagine success
When we think about doing something, we often play out the scenario in our mind. If you’re imagining it not going well, you’ll start to feel anxious. Instead visualise all the possible positive outcomes of an event, so you’re seeing hearing and feeling success. It puts your mind and body in the best possible place for a great outcome.
8. Collect compliments
Think of something you did really well: how long did you think about it for? How did it make you feel? Now think of the last time you did badly at something: how long did you spend thinking about it? How did it make you feel? I’ll put money on the fact you spent far more time thinking about the latter. We’re programmed to look for threat, so we need to work extra hard to give the good stuff a chance to settle and be taken on board.
- Over the next week note down anything that goes well, any compliments, positive feedback, anything you’re pleased with.
- At the end of the week, read it back!
9. There’s no such thing as perfect
While pushing yourself to achieve more can be a good thing, be careful of aiming for perfection. Looking for perfect means your focus will be on what’s not going well and since perfect doesn’t exist you’ll constantly feel like you’re failing. Making mistakes isn’t a weakness, it’s part and parcel of learning, growing and understanding yourself better. Take a fairer viewpoint. If 80% is going well and 20% going not so well that’s how you should split your time!
The mind and body are pretty amazing – just changing your posture can change your mind-set for the better. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that subjects who sat up straight in their chairs, instead of slouching, were more confident about the things they were then asked to write down. In addition, they discovered that posture builds a sense of strength and confidence in social situations too. So use this to your advantage – stand up straight, push your shoulders back and hold your head high.
Dr Jessamy is following…
Natasha Courtenay-Smith is mentoring me at the moment and definitely inspires me. She worked as a journalist, set up an online press agency, recently wrote a brilliant book The Million Dollar Blog and is now helping others build their business. I love her passion and drive, she’s always upbeat and so encouraging.
Phanella Mayall-Fine and Alice Olins founders of Step Up Club. Phanella is a great friend of mine and a constant source of inspiration and advice. Seeing Step Up’s success was the reason I started doing Instagram for psychology. I’m so impressed at everything her and Alice have achieved, setting up Step Up Club, promoting an important message (in a fun and engaging way) and writing a book! They’re proof of how well partnerships can work and what two women can do together!
Dr Jessamy’s work…
Sign-up for Dr Jessamy’s 5 day Happiness Challenge which launches on 20th March (International Day of Happiness).