When the others asked me to write an article for the website about self-confidence a little voice in my head said “hmm! I’m not sure if I can do that!” That voice was talking loudly over the experience and practice I have had as a training professional and coach who helps others build their confidence. It’s not the first time I have heard it . You may have heard a similar voice in your head? Undermining your self-confidence like my little voice is undermining mine.
If some of my friends back in the UK read this, they would be quite surprised to hear I don’t feel confident 100% of the time. I have learnt how to deal with situations that are challenging and, at least, appear confident when it is important. Our lives living in another country present more difficult situations to deal with on a regular basis – it takes time to understand new systems, languages and habits. We are not grounded in a deep understanding of the place we live in and the people around us, like our friends are back home. Without close friends and extended family around us to validate us, our confidence can be weakened.
Crisis of Confidence
Many spouses who follow a working partner leave a high-powered job behind which gave them a strong sense of themselves, meaning and a good salary. When those things disappear, and the woman (usually) becomes a stay-at-home parent, an existential crisis can happen. “Who am I?” and “How do I find meaning in my life?”. This is a big knock to their confidence as they find themselves in strange territory physically and metaphorically.
Strategies to help
So what are my strategies in dealing with that particular situation? One of the first would be to think back to times when I have written articles and seen people grow in confidence as the result of work I have done. Another, which I have just done, is to start to get down some ideas down on paper – making small steps to improve the situation. If you reflect, you will find you have some strategies of your own.
Some of us are good at dealing with this life constantly outside our Comfort Zone. We learn to live with the feelings we have. Self disclosure – telling people how I am feeling – is a good strategy I use for managing myself in difficult situations. Most people will help me out if I tell them how I am feeling.
Recognising that I don’t feel confident all the time helps too.
Using body language to help me through difficult situations is powerful and it is a useful thing to practice. Key things I focus on are:
- having both feet on the ground (even if I am sitting)
- having an open posture where my arms and legs are not crossed
- breathing steadily
- trying to relax my body
- I smile and make eye contact.
People usually respond positively to my positive body language and the situation will feel easier. My success will notch up my self confidence a little .
In a similar way taking care of our physical health and our appearance helps us feel good and more confident.
Put some eyeliner on or go for a run – whichever makes you feel better.
Build Time for You
I have lived outside my own country for more than 20 years and try not to get swallowed up completely by the children’s and my partner’s needs. I build in time every day for something good for me – exercise, contact with others, having some fun! I do something I love doing.
Get Things Done
Each day I write a reasonable list of what I am going to do and cross items off when I have done them so that I have a sense of achievement by the end of the day.
There are many ways in which you can work to maintain your self confidence – I have given a few examples above from the more in depth work I would do on a course or in coaching.
By Catherine Guillou
Catherine is a trainer and coach specialising in women’s training. She has lived in France, Sweden, and Germany since she left the UK 20 years ago. She was head of training in a big university hospital in London before she left and has had her own coaching practice since. She is the mum of two young men adopted from Brazil and is married to a Frenchman.
Catherine coaches women from all over the world to improve their self confidence. If you feel you could benefit from strategies in this article and could use Catherine’s expertise, please contact Catherine on firstname.lastname@example.org