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The Secrets of Inner Confidence

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Confidence is one of those qualities than can be hard won but easily lost or never attained in the first place. It can grow or diminish, get knocked or soar and the craziest thing I have found about confidence is that after having babies – the most life affirming, positive and amazing thing that anyone can ever do – many of us (myself included) can lose our confidence and struggle to get it back.

Isn’t that staggering? We have literally created a new life – brought a whole human being into the world and yet our confidence drops to rock bottom?! But I don’t want this post to just be aimed at mothers, it is about confidence in general and ways I’ve found to develop and keep it.

As a kid I was always seen as confident – probably because I would be the chatty, sociable one at school, always told off for talking and sure-enough I didn’t mind being in the limelight so I was seen as confident but in truth, not always feeling secure.

As I hit puberty and entered into that stage where you go from being a carefree kid into a more self conscious pre-teen, my parents split up and my homelife became uncertain. At this time my ‘confidence’ became my armor, I knew how people would relate to confident Nadine, it became something I could count on in a little life where suddenly nothing was predictable, so I held onto that persona with both white-knuckled hands.

Did I ever feel wobbly or insecure – yes! Did I ever let it show? Hell, no!

JuggleMum at Magic Kingdom

People around me were used to confident Nadine – I couldn’t risk having the one thing that was mine, taken away from me by showing vulnerability.

I met my husband at school aged 16 and the last 26 years with him have given me my stability and security. He is my rock and my soulmate. The life that we have created together has given me the confidence I now have. I’m safe with him – I can count on him and through his love I’ve learned to be able to count on myself. He’s the yin to my yang. He’s the safe haven, the restorative place where I find my energy. I’m the bustling, go-getting do-er. I bring the excitement, he brings the calm. We need both.

However in all the years of outwardly showing confidence, even if I didn’t feel it inside, I learned a few things. By reframing the way I looked at a situation or by using a few techniques to make me feel better, I found that I could grow an inner confidence and people seemed to respond to this. As people reacted positively to me, I could see that what I was putting out there was good and true. I could count on it. This helped my actual confidence to grow.

These days I do feel confident, but more importantly to me – self assured. I have moments where I quake inside if I’m about to do something nerve wracking (talking to camera, talking to an audience, negotiating a contract, asking for money) but I now know how to handle myself to just do it, and not let the nerves show. It’s a learnable skill, so don’t think you could never do (**insert whatever your heart desires**), you can and you will, if you use a few tricks to get you there.

So let me start by saying, that’s all it is. No-one – absolutely NO-ONE has gone through life without a battle-scar or two. We all have wobbles. We all doubt ourselves from time to time. Even if you doubt yourself all of the time, you can turn that around. Slowly. Baby steps. That’s what it takes. Here’s how.

What make you so interesting? Nothing? Good!
The line above sounds so negative, but really it is liberating and this is how I started my baby steps to real confidence. As an awkward teenager, I was self conscious and would always think that other people at school or out socially were talking about me. I’d be darting my eyes about looking for the ‘evidence’ that I was being gossiped about, and if someone met my eye, I’d be convinced that they were laughing about me behind my back. Maybe the way I was dressed or my acne ridden skin. When you look for evidence of ‘bad’ you find it and imagine how crippling it is to feel that you are being constantly judged and ridiculed.

But I didn’t want to feel this way so I’d ask myself, “What exactly is so interesting about you that ‘they’ are going to want to gossip about you?” (The answer: “Nothing”!) “Are you saying something so interesting that others are going to want to listen in to your conversation over their own?” (“Ummm – no!”)

By being perfectly ordinary and no more interesting than anyone else, I found freedom. I’d tell myself, no-one cares what you are doing, saying, what you look like, they are all more interested in themselves! And it’s true! The funny thing is that by using this technique to build your confidence, you start to become more confident in yourself then people do very much care what you think and say – you radiate an aura of confidence and that can be very attractive to others. But by the time you get to this stage, your inner reserves are built and you can handle the attention!

Beware of too much glorification!
However it is wise to be self-aware and humble. You may appear more attractive to others (I don’t mean physically, I’m talking about personality) but there’s nothing more unattractive than ignorance. Someone who cannot see their own flaws or relate to another person on a sincere level becomes superficial. It may take confidence to ‘put yourself out there’ in front of people, but it takes even more confidence to ‘reach out’ and interact with people, and reaching out is more real. People like and respond to ‘real’ in others more than they do to confidence.

Take a risk… Be vulnerable
It can be super scary to show who you really are, or speak your truth. By putting ourselves ‘out there’ we risk rejection. But when you actually do it, you find that the sky doesn’t fall down, the world keeps on turning, and it doesn’t often make that much difference to anyone else, but it can make a world of difference to you. Just knowing that you were real and honest gives you a grounding that you don’t get if you are in hiding. We’ve all heard of ‘imposter syndrome’, where people are scared of being found out, well there is no imposter syndrome if you are being who you are. You are who you are – end of. You are not trying to be someone who you are not, you are being you and you are the expert in being you, so how can there possibly be any imposter syndrome when you are 100% being you?!

I’ve hesitated and been nervous a few times before hitting ‘publish’ on a blog post where I have shared something that was momentous to me, and whilst the comments I received were supportive and often sharing of their own experiences, there was no feedback from the comments that this big revelation of mine was anything weird or unusual. In all honesty, it was more of a big deal to me than it was to anyone else, and now it has been said, it’s out there. Once something is on the internet, we all know it can’t be taken back, and that’s where the scare is. By being strong and saying what you need to say, you build up your ‘brave muscle’. That makes it easier to share again next time! But often it isn’t really about sharing a piece of information with others, it is about accepting something about yourself and this is where the real treasure lies. You can find some solid inner strength by daring to be vulnerable. But this may need building up to, so start small and go from there. Know that you are always doing the best you can in the situation you are in and give yourself a break.

Being good enough
If I ever start to second guess myself or check and double check that I’ve done something, I forcibly stop myself. This sort of procrastination or worrying round in circles achieves nothing other than diminishing the confidence I already have. Confidence levels can differ from day to day. Just because I feel like I can take on the world and everyone in it one day, doesn’t mean I’ll be able to do anything other than make it from one end of the day to the other the next. I have learned to trust myself by being thorough first time. With whatever I am up to – from reading and replying to email to creating a new blog post, I try to do the best , most thorough job I can do first time round then trust myself that I did it right. If I start to think I should have done this better, it is a waste of time so I make sure that I don’t hit ‘send’ on that email or blog post until I am happy that it is the best it can be, because if it’s the best then there’s no second guessing. This isn’t to say I believe that everything I do in real life or on the internet is perfect, I don’t. I make spelling and grammatical errors from time to time, I fail to acknowledge pertinent information from time to time and I screw up from time to time, but in any situation with the energy levels I have at that time and the circumstances I am in at that time, I am doing my best. Good enough doesn’t mean perfect, it just means good enough. When you know better – you do better.

Accepting what is
I could literally write all day on this subject, I feel so passionate about it but I’m aware that you have lives to lead and this is already a long blog post! So let me end by sharing one last thing that really helped me as an overweight teenager who loved fashion, to start to accept her body. Body issues are one of the biggest drains on self confidence for women, and of all the beautiful, strong, vibrant women I am blessed to know in my life, I’m saddened that a few of them don’t seem to realise how Goddamn beautiful they are! They talk about how fat they are (when there is nothing there!) or their muffin top, bingo wings or (insert body part of your choice!) They need to find something outer to criticise as an outlet for their inner dissatisfaction and body weight is unfortunately a socially acceptable way to gain empathy or support for each other. Women connect through sharing and I ‘get’ the whole body shaming exercise – I have done it myself, and when you are feeling lost and alone and you just want a connection, it is a fast track way to get the smidgen of approval that will get you through the next hour or so until you need your next fix. But it doesn’t have to become a daily habit. We all do this occasionally it is human nature, but please don’t let it become ingrained. I read a magazine article back in the early 1990s where a larger lady who I think was an accessories designer by trade, quoted “No amount of wearing black or small accessories is going to stop people noticing that I’m fat, so I dress how I want”. I found this incredibly empowering and I wish I could remember who she was and tell her how her words changed my life. I have been carrying this quote round in my head for more than 20 years and it is as true today as it was then.

Nadine backing the Brits

Me, Nadine from JuggleMum, March 2016

I am currently a size 16 UK dress size. At my largest I was a size 24 – even at that size, I loved colour, fashion, texture and shape. I couldn’t always wear the clothing I wanted to wear due to my size limitations, but I dressed the best I could given the weight I was. It was the fact that as you start to creep up higher than a size 24 that your fashion choices become limited that halted me in my tracks and made me face the music that I needed to get my weight under control. It was my wake up call. But I still live by the fact that no amount of posing in a different way, or wearing black clothes from head to toe will stop people noticing my size. I am clearly not a size 10 – and even if I hold my breath in really tight, I still won’t be a size 10 today, so why not just breathe out, wear your best accessory – your smile and show the world how beautiful you are inside and out. I’m sure there are some people in the world who would look at me and say that I’m ugly or fat or how they would never in a million years want to look like me and that’s ok! I would never in a million years want to be the sort of person who spreads negativity or hate as that to me is far uglier than any rolls of fat, but I accept that they have their own opinion and I hope that they find their own form of inner peace soon, because those that need to criticise are the ones who don’t have it.

So that is me, laid bare, warts and all. I am confident about pressing ‘publish’ on this post because you know what? I’m doing the best I can today given the circumstances that I have and when I know better I will do better.

Do you have any learnings or sayings that help you boost your confidence? Share them in the comments and thank you for reading, this post was really important to me.
Nadine x

Article Categories:
How To · Tip Of The Week · Tips & Hacks · Wellness

Comments to The Secrets of Inner Confidence

  • love the Disneyland photo! Becoming a mother definitely knocks the socks off you and confidence is blown out of the water as a crying baby and lack of sleep take their toll! Good to hear you have got to a place where you feel happy with yourself. you are a beautiful and successful lady and an inspiration too! Fab post xxx

    louise 9th March 2016 6:38 pm Reply
    • Aww thank you Louise – that was lovely to read. I have to agree that lack of sleep is a nightmare! I was immensely grateful when my two were sleeping through each night and I could claw back some of that sleep debt I’d built up!! x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 12:00 pm Reply
  • This is so liberating to read. I wouldn’t consider myself very confident, neither self-assured, but your tips and your own story have enabled me to realise that I CAN achieve it whereas previously I wouldn’t have thought it possible. Thanks for writing such an open and honest post.

    Kimberley Giles 9th March 2016 9:23 pm Reply
    • You absolutely can Kimberley, we are all a lot more capable than we think and have inner resources that we don’t always recognise. Thanks for commenting.

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:58 am Reply
  • What a well rounded, well thought out post full of useful insights. I have often lacked confidence and in fact I still do far too often. I don’t really have any useful mantras or advice but I’ll certainly take something away from this. I’m now starting all over again being physically disabled literally overnight. My confidence has been knocked right back and I’m finding it difficult to even leave the house. I will regain it again though, after all, no-one is going to notice how big my bum looks when I’m in a wheelchair, right 😉

    Anne 9th March 2016 11:01 pm Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Anne and I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. However what I can tell from your few words on the subject is your determination to keep going – that shouts right through from between the lines. Hold onto that, because that is golden. I have not got a physical disability myself so I am not in your shoes / seat, however my step father is disabled and confined to a wheelchair and my mum is his full time carer so I know something of the first hand difficulties in dealing with a disability. Yes it is tough and I don’t know your individual circumstance, but you can still have a positive quality of life, all is definitely not lost. I believe that we are who our souls are – not our bodies. When we miss someone it is their soul and personality that we are missing and not their bodies usually and your soul, although bruised, is intact. I always say to my children about their Granddad that it is just his legs that don’t work. Everything else is good, so they appreciate that a wheelchair is just to compensate for the legs, and everything else is whole. God bless you and I hope that you keep smiling.. Thanks for commenting. x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:55 am Reply
  • Such an inspiring post. I don’t think I lack confidence as such I think it’s more that I don’t have faith in myself at times which can be perceived as not having confidence.

    Daniella 10th March 2016 10:53 am Reply
    • You make an interesting point Daniella – having faith in yourself is not the same as confidence although they can be easily confused. Have a look back on the things that you do in your life and do well, because this is your evidence that you are capable and are up to the task of whatever you are lacking faith in. I have found that seeking ‘proof’ that I can do something will increase my faith in my abilities as I progress, so maybe worth a try? Good luck!

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:49 am Reply
  • This was such an interesting post! We sound so similar – even down to the point that I met my husband at 16!

    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche 10th March 2016 11:38 am Reply
    • Ah – you have a childhood sweetheart too! I’ll check out your blog, it’s always good to get to know like minded people 🙂

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:46 am Reply
  • I LOVE this post. I lack confidence a lot and I thought losing weight would help me know how to dress, but I don’t feel comfortable. I always second guess myself and doubt myself. I need to build up some confidence. xx

    susankmann 10th March 2016 1:26 pm Reply
    • Thanks Susan. I think if you are a little overweight (and I’m talking about me here – not you!) but you think that if you were slim you’d be ok, and actually it took me quite a few years to realise that slim people have their issues too. They still struggle with confidence just as much as larger people, so being slim doesn’t necessarily mean being confident. However that second guessing of yourself is something you have learned and you can learn your way out of it too. Try be a little kinder to yourself and see what happens, it’ll help build up that confidence. Sending hugs x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:45 am Reply
  • What a lovely post Nadine! I particularly loved what you said about your husband – it sounds like a wonderful partnership. A marriage should be exactly all of those things – a safe haven from which you can confidently be yourself. Well done you!

    Slummy single mummy 10th March 2016 2:07 pm Reply
    • Thanks Jo, he is my anchor and my rock and I am blessed to have him, and thank you for such a sweet comment.

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:42 am Reply
  • Love this post Nadine!

    I’m trying to lose weight at the moment and i hope that gives me a bit more confidence as I’m quite shy in large groups – I think that’s my personality though rather than my size but we shall see x x

    Cass@frugalfamily 10th March 2016 6:33 pm Reply
    • You can do it Cass and you will. Shyness in large groups is totally normal but like you say, your personality shines and that is what people will see when they meet you. Good luck with it x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:41 am Reply
  • I think as we grow older, it should be all about being self-assured. Trends change, body shapes change but when you get to the point of accepting yourself as you are, warts and all, as you say, then you can use what it was given to you, physically and intellectually, to live the best life you can live. I loved reading your post, thank you for writing it!xx

    oana79 10th March 2016 8:47 pm Reply
    • I love this comment Oana- it is true, accepting yourself warts and all is the way to living your best life. Thanks for commenting x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 11:40 am Reply
  • I never knew we had that in common. I’ve been with hubby since age of 15 (1988) and so we’ve been together 28 years now. I’m having the usual post-baby confidence wobble xx

    Liska @NewMumOnline 11th March 2016 1:34 pm Reply
    • Ah that’s lovely that we have that in common Liska! Isn’t it crazy with the confidence thing? You have just given birth to an actual whole human being – by rights you should be towering hand on hips in your superwomen outfit over Metropolis shouting “I am woman, hear me roar!” But you’ve done this before and you will do it again. Your confidence will return, and until it does just enjoy gazing at that beautiful little girl you have created and know how special that is. Congratulations on your lovely daughter and keep smiling x

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 1:44 pm Reply
  • I was really shy as a child and only really came out of my shell at secondary school. I didn’t really belong to any group but got along with everyone and I think that is how I would describe myself now. My problem is I like to be liked and I hate conflict. My confidence levels have grown overtime and I was always super confident in my work as I knew I was good at it, but being a SAHM my confidence has been knocked and I am scared of going back to work, even though I know I will enjoy it. This is a great post with some good advice

    Kara 11th March 2016 2:46 pm Reply
    • Thanks Kara, and I totally hear you over the returning to work thing. I remember feeling daunted by work and the office environment after I had my first child, but when I did get back there and into the swing of things again, I wonder what I’d worried about! I think we need to be gentle with ourselves and accept that it’s ok to feel scared sometimes. We are just human after all! Thanks for commenting.

      Nadine Hill 11th March 2016 8:48 pm Reply
  • I was incredibly shy as a child and teenager and I think for me becoming a parent changed everything. I had something to hide behind when I wanted to try new things and a conversation starter and I am more confident now than I ever imagined. I obviously have my hang ups but I think having these small confident people leading the way helped, and also watching the amazing feats of my body during pregnancy made the things I didn’t like about it seem much less significant. Great post.

    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure 11th March 2016 8:56 pm Reply
    • That’s an excellent point Bex- our children give us a great way ‘in’ to social situations and can help us connect with others and I love how you appreciated your body in pregnancy. Thanks for commenting!

      Nadine Hill 13th March 2016 10:24 am Reply
  • What a great post, confidence is a strong tool , if one has it they one can conquer the world.

    Nayna Kanabar 11th March 2016 10:30 pm Reply
    • True that – it’s all there for the taking, if we try.

      Nadine Hill 13th March 2016 10:25 am Reply
  • I think I’m fairly confident, but it’s all to easy for that confidence to take a knock isn’t it? I think a few tricks can help like doing something you are good at after a set back.

    Erica Price 12th March 2016 8:04 am Reply
    • That’s a great way to get yourself back on track, do what you know you are great at. It’s important to find what works for us individually, to build our confidence.

      Nadine Hill 13th March 2016 10:26 am Reply
  • I think I’m a pretty confident person & very good at pretending to be even when I’m out of my comfort zone. My mantra has always been, ‘It’s OK I’m a grown-up, I can deal with this,’ somehow it always seems to work. Great post x

    Izzie Anderton 13th March 2016 11:25 am Reply
    • I love that Izzie. I tell myself “You’ve got this” – it’s a great sentiment, thanks for commenting x

      Nadine Hill 14th March 2016 10:59 am Reply
  • This is really interesting. For me confidence comes from authenticity and I agree I lost a lot of mine when I became a mum. For the first time I questioned how I felt and what I was doing.

    Jen Walshaw (@Mum_TheMadHouse) 13th March 2016 3:19 pm Reply
    • Yes, it is that questioning of ourselves that shakes us, doesn’t it? That plus the physical tolls of giving birth and the lack of sleep surrounding babies. It’s no wonder we all lose ourselves a bit.

      Nadine Hill 14th March 2016 11:01 am Reply
  • I’ve always pegged myself as not very confident, however, I soon learned that actually I’m more confident than I realise I am. I have my moments (lots of them) of self-doubt, but I can and do bring myself out of that funk and shine once more. I’m currently coming out the other side of a long period of a lack of self-confidence, and it’s making me feel a lot better that I am becoming the old me again. Great post Nadine x

    Michelle 15th March 2016 10:16 am Reply
    • It’s funny that we often take a throwaway comment or feeling as fact like ‘I’m not that confident’ but when we actually think about things and our attitudes and reactions we realise we are actually more confident or resilient or determined or brave or (insert quality of choice!) than we think. Even though you may have had a long period of ‘down’, you have brought yourself back up – that takes tenacity. You are recognising the old you again – that shows self love and the ‘shine once more’ comment shows me that you have been here before and survived – that is strength. Thanks for commenting Michelle, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. x

      Nadine Hill 15th March 2016 3:52 pm Reply
  • I’ve always thought of myself as a confident person but motherhood first time round hit me for six and I lost my confidence completely. It took years for me to find my way back to me but I’m proud of that journey, of finding myself again and regaining that tenacity, that inner fire. This is such a wonderful post Nadine, thank you for sharing it at #sharethejoy

    Michelle Reeves (The Joy Chaser) 20th March 2016 8:48 am Reply
    • Thank you Michelle. We do actually claw our way back after childbirth don’t we? But I think ultimately we come out stronger. Thanks for commenting.

      Nadine Hill 20th March 2016 11:45 am Reply
  • You’re so inspirational xxx love this post

    Ninjacat 21st March 2016 10:15 am Reply
    • Aww thanks! x

      Nadine Hill 22nd March 2016 3:35 pm Reply
  • I suppose my ‘motto’ is ‘go with the flow’ and don’t be someone I’m not to please others or be more popular. It works for me and I stick by it. I do think that confidence can come from life experience though… saying that, giving praise to our children is a good first step to instil some confidence/self-esteem in them at an early age. Let’s face it, that can only be good. #ShareTheJoy

    Carol Cameleon 1st April 2016 8:59 pm Reply

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