Personal Development? It’s Easier Not To Bother Isn’t It?

I was teaching this week, the second day of a three day Developing Personal Confidence course and the people in the group were wonderful ? They all engaged really well and shared their experiences which has a real value, I think when we’re focusing on our self-confidence. So often, one person’s worries will resonate with another person and it’s reassuring that we’re not the only one worrying or struggling with a particular thing. So all was well, we had lots of conversation going until I asked the group to complete an exercise to identify their limiting beliefs…….then we had lots of conversation about totally different things to avoid doing the thing that was difficult! This stuff is difficult. It’s much easier to avoid personal development and not bother with it. That’s why I admire the people that do engage with it; it takes courage, insight, self-analysis and holding yourself to account to improve your confidence and that’s not always easy or comfortable to do.


Confidence is just a softer skill apparently

As a Personal Development Specialist I hear the words ‘softer skills’ and ‘pink and fluffy’ way too often ☹ But as a colleague said recently, when she was challenged as to ‘why we need you here to do this (organisational development) stuff’, “well if it’s so easy, why haven’t you sorted it out yourselves already?”. Boom! She kicked it ? We might think of personal development as ‘softer skills’ but it’s keeping Counsellors, Coaches, Therapists and Personal Development Specialists like me employed all over town. And most Practitioners will tell you that we usually only get called in when things have gone wrong so maybe it’s not so flippin easy after all eh?!

If you’re confident, you can do all of these things:

  • communicate openly, honestly and assertively
  • know your strengths and weaknesses, and be prepared to reveal them to people
  • be creative and flexible
  • suggest ideas and not be phased if they’re not accepted or are changed
  • say ‘no’
  • accept feedback and adapt
  • offer constructive feedback to others
  • recognise your value in the world and believe you have lots to offer
  • manage and thrive through change
  • demonstrate role model behaviours to others
  • treat people well and stand up to bad behaviour

How are they softer skills??! If you can build your confidence you can rule the world! Well, your bit of it anyway.


It Takes Time and Hard Work

You have to look back first, to understand what’s holding you back, in order to move forward and build your confidence. That can be hard. To focus on your limiting beliefs, your inner critical voice, the negative messages you’ve been given and what you’re fearful of, in order to build your confidence takes a lot of guts. It’s definitely easier not to bother. It takes time too, with progress being made in small steps, sometimes forwards and sometimes back so it can definitely be easier not to bother! But think of what you can achieve and how you can achieve it if you walk into your day with your head held high, feeling like you have a contribution to make, being able to influence change and demonstrate role model behaviours. That’s a great positive cycle of thinking to be in – you expect great things, you make them happen, you adapt when things fail or change, and end the day with a sense of achievement. You rule the world – boom! ?


Is there a fast track to great confidence?

I’m afraid there is no fast track but re-connecting with positive events from the past and how they made you feel can do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem. Thinking about how you felt at the time, smiling and re-connecting with feelings of happiness, pride, feeling loved, feeling valued, of doing a great job and being recognised for it, of a time when you felt confident, happy and self-assured, is a great first step to building your confidence. You felt those things before so you can feel them again, even if they do feel quite distant to you now.


Reinforce the Positives

Building your confidence takes time and lots of repetition as we seem to be very highly skilled in ignoring and under-playing the positives of our work, actions and behaviours, while we can rigidly cling on tightly to events where we struggled to achieve; focusing on the mistakes that we made and the things that we’re not so good at, which probably aren’t that important anyway in the scheme of things. You could probably give me a whole list of those! But if I ask you what you’re good at, it can feel uncomfortable to even start that list. By re-connecting with positive emotions and identifying the impact and benefits of building your confidence, for yourself and others, you can start to develop a more positive cycle of thinking. I’m not saying you should ignore the negatives but there definitely should be a balance of positives and negatives, and some days just telling your inner critical voice to “shut up!” is a good idea! ?


Accept the Compliment!

One of the biggest indicators of a person’s confidence level is whether they can accept a compliment or not. I think we’ve all done it – “what this old thing, I’ve had it for ages!”. “Oh it was a team effort really”. Come on now, let’s take a compliment when somebody is kind enough to take the time to pay us one. It can be very frustrating if compliments are batted aside or under-played when we take the time to recognise someone’s great work, or notice that they’re looking good in a new top, or have had a nice new hair do for instance! It can feel uncomfortable but a simple ‘thank you’ is a great way to show appreciation for someone’s kindness and attention, and practicing that when you’re on your own can be a great way of building up the confidence to say it in real life, when someone does offer you praise; a ‘well done’, a ‘good job!’ or a ‘nice top!’ ? There’s not enough kindness in the world today so please don’t bat it away when someone does try and offer it to you.


Accessing Support

Personal development is hard work, it is easier not to bother with it, but if you can see the benefits and the difference it can make to your life, then that can be the first step in your investment of yourself. My personal development workshops can help (link here) and resources like You Tube and TEDTalks provide a huge array of information and support to help you think about where you’re at, how you can challenge some of your negative perceptions about yourself and reinforce the positives to re-connect with all the great things you’ve achieved. Just making a start is a good thing; reflecting on what you did well each day, how you helped other people and made a difference to their lives. Start with the small things; you didn’t have to hold the door open for someone today but you did, and they smiled and said ‘thank you’. That’s a positive connection – you could have just charged on through but you didn’t!

Take the time to recognise the positives of your day and let them nudge out some of the negatives. If you like a mental image, negatives might be dark and spiky whereas the positives are bright and round, softer shapes. See if you can fill your mind with soft fluffy clouds of positivity, kindness, smiles, warmth, pride, generosity and appreciation. I suspect I may have taken that a step too far but you know what I mean!!! It is worth the effort, I promise.

Take good care please and have a positive, soft fluffy cloud kind of a day ?


Best wishes, Karen