I’ve messed up big time.
I feel so bad right now, I could die!
What are people going to think about me?
I can’t look anyone in the eye.
I bet they’re thinking I’m incompetent and stupid.
Some of them are surely laughing at me for what I did.
How will I ever be able to show my face there again?
I shouldn’t have listened to her advice.
But it’s too late now, nothing can be done.
Why didn’t I just focus hard enough?
How did I let myself make this mistake?
Even a total beginner could have handled it!
I’m such a loser, a total mess.
No wonder I don’t have what I want in life, I’m not worthy of any of it, I just mess things up!
Ah, I might as well just quit, save some face by not messing anything else up!
This is how many of us handle making a mistake.
We come down hard on ourselves.
We feel ashamed.
We blow things out of proportion.
We start making sweeping generalisations about ourselves, others and the world.
We compare (for the worse).
We try imparting some of the fault to others, to lessen our burden.
We give up trying.
But have you ever stopped to think what this does to your confidence? To your self-image and your self-worth?
This kind of negative self-talk can have an incredibly powerful effect on how we perceive ourselves and, then, how we show up in the world.
Can you imagine if you were to use all this self-talk to build yourself up and strengthen your confidence? Your Authentic Confidence I mean. You know, the one that comes from being the person you want to be in the world.
But how would negative self-talk build my confidence? you may be wondering.
Well then, maybe some positive self-talk is what I need! you say.
That’s better, but not very helpful, either.
But then what? If negative self-talk is not good, and positive self talk is not very helpful, what’s left?
What WILL build your confidence is REALISTIC self-talk, the kind that is FAIR and BALANCED.
The kind where you don’t throw your figurative self to the dogs and, at the same time, you don’t cuddle your figurative self into saying it will all be alright, this too shall pass, etc. and not doing anything about it.
What I mean by this is simple. Be fair, be balanced, and be realistic in your assessment of any situation and your involvement in it.
How to do that, you wonder?
Here are a few of my suggestions:
- understand how you’ve messed up, by looking at it form as many perspectives as possible, and see who was affected;
- accept that you’ve made a mistake (nobody is perfect, there is no such thing as perfection);
- feel the feelings you have, express them, but don’t let them overwhelm you;
- transform the destructive feelings into constructive feelings;
- observe your thoughts and notice your triggers, so you can work on them;
- acknowledge your mistake publicly;
- apologise for your mistake to those affected;
- learn from your mistake and make the lessons known to others;
- put something in place to make sure you’re not going to make the same mistake again;
- try to make amends and rebuild the trust.
Ana, all this sounds very difficult, emotionally painful, and potentially shaming. Are you serious about this?
In short, yes.
And here’s the long answer.
Everything I mentioned above will play a role in building your confidence and here’s how:
- seeing things from multiple perspectives will help you understand and empathise with the world better, which will make you more confident in your ability to make sense of the world around you and not feel like something is eluding you all the time;
- accepting that you messed up gives you the chance to forgive yourself–if you don’t nothing else matters–which in turn will help you feel OK with yourself;
- letting yourself feel the feelings that come up from the situation offers you the chance to express them in a healthy way and not bottle them inside–it will also help you know yourself better, which can only lead to more confidence;
- transforming the feelings is a step above just releasing them, because it uses their energy for good, to help you improve–plus, this ability will give you extra confidence that you can deal with any feeling that comes your way;
- noticing triggers is immensely helpful, because it informs all your efforts of self-development, hence your confidence–when you know what triggers you you can prepare for it ahead of time and be more confident you can manage that situation;
- public acknowledgement that we’re not perfect is the utmost display of confidence–I mean, what can beat getting out there and saying ‘I’ve messed up and I’m owning it’;
- learning from your mistakes is the best way to turn a negative into a positive and use it to build ourselves up–knowing that your mistake is not shameful, but an opportunity to become better in the future;
- setting up systems to prevent the same mistake from occurring in the future is a great way to feel more in control, and, hence, more confident;
- repairing the damage your mistake made and patching up relationships is a great way to connect with people and be helpful, which is another great way to live up to your values, and reinforcing those will surely build that Authentic Confidence I always talk about.
So, there it is, this is how mistakes can build your Authentic Confidence.
What are your thoughts?