10 common confidence-crushers

Read our expert tips for overcoming 10 common confidence-crushers

So nobody notices you, everybody else is more attractive and, frankly, you’re doomed to fail whatever you attempt in life? Nonsense! It’s time to face those fears head-on with our expert tips for overcoming 10 common confidence-crushers…

‘I’m not as clever or interesting as other people’

‘Comparisons are odious,’ insists clinical psychologist Dr Cecilia d’Felice. ‘It’s an illusion to compare ourselves with others because we never really know the full picture. We’re all so good at impression management, we forget that other people have their own insecurities and worries, too. So stop judging yourself and them. It’s much better to divert your energy towards working on who you want to be, and stop worrying about your own perceived limitations. Focus on what you like about yourself – even if it’s only one little thing – and build on that.’

‘I didn’t get the job’

Being overlooked for promotion or turned down for a position you really wanted elsewhere can feel soul-destroying – particularly if you were initially pretty confident the job was yours. The trick, though, is to learn from the experience. ‘Try to find out where you were lacking,’ says life coach Carole Ann Rice. ‘Do you need to strengthen certain skills? Are you visible enough at work? Do you need to network and get more allies and advocates to fight your corner? Instead of licking your wounds, seize the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and improve yourself.’

‘My parents prefer my sibling’

You might think family favouritism won’t affect you in adulthood. But, according to Robert Kelsey – author of What’s Stopping You Being More Confident? – this hangover from childhood is one of the most common causes of low confidence. ‘Around 70 percent of fathers and 65 percent of mothers favour one sibling, which is a disaster for the unfavoured child,’ he explains. ‘For example, I was the “annoying little brother” and “disappointing son” – two roles that gave my big sister high self-esteem while leaving me bereft of confidence. To get beyond this, you need enlightenment. Recognise what’s happened and then learn to forgive. Resentment may be an inevitable part of the journey, but you need to grow beyond it. Ultimately, forgiveness is key to moving on.’

‘A friend or partner keeps putting me down’

It can be hard to stay confident if the comments or actions of someone close keep chipping away at your self-esteem. ‘You can’t tear someone down without tearing yourself down,’ insists clinical hypnotherapist Dominic Knight. ‘The person who is slamming you probably has very low self-confidence and their negative reinforcement of you is their method of trying to control you and gain their own confidence. In a nutshell, their opinion doesn’t count. We all too often dwell on the negative comments people have made. It’s better to recall the many positive things people have said instead.’

‘My friends are more successful than me’

Uh-oh – it’s comparison time again! But if your friends all appear to have better jobs, bigger houses or happier relationships than you, it’s hard not to feel lacking. ‘This type of comparison only leads to contemptuous feelings towards your friends, which may push them away,’ warns psychologist Dr Massimo Stocchi. ‘Try turning the comparison into a positive one. Be thankful that you have such successful people around you – and use their success to motivate you to work hard to get the things you want in life, too.’

‘He’s just not that into me’

When a new man doesn’t call or a relationship simply fizzles out in its early stages, your confidence can take a real beating. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. ‘When you depend on others’ approval to shore up your self-confidence, every “little” sign of disinterest can hit you hard,’ says relationship expert Kate Taylor. ‘So work on building up your love for yourself. Take time to nurture your friendships, improve your career or indulge in new activities that excite you before you start dating – and continue to pursue these interests even when you’re seeing someone. That way, you’ll develop your sense of self-achievement and have less time to notice or worry about minor dating blips.’

‘I feel out of my depth at work’

Squeezed budgets, workplace reshuffles and a change in management can all take their toll on professional confidence – even if you’ve been doing the same job for a while. ‘There are always changes in any job and this can make us feel insecure,’ says Carole Ann Rice. ‘It’s important to be ready to face new challenges without feeling diminished by them. So always expect things to change – then you won’t be surprised when they do. And if you’ve lost confidence, try to work out why – and identify what you’d need to restore it, such as further training or more support from your boss, for example. Also, it may help to take a reality check and ask your manager or colleagues for constructive feedback on your performance. You may well find your fears are unfounded.’

‘People never notice me’

Convinced you’re the kind of person who unwittingly blends into the background at work or social situations? You need to pay more attention! ‘If you want to be noticed, you need to be completely “present” in whatever you’re doing,’ says Dr d’Felice. ‘Be present to what’s occurring around you, present to what others are saying and present to your own thoughts and feelings – and you will soon enhance your own personal presence. It’s also important to cultivate an authentic voice that allows you to “speak your truth”. When people communicate authentically, others sit up and take notice. You don’t have to be loud or aggressive: just say what you think, but try to focus on the positive in every situation.’

‘I’m too shy to make my mark’

OK, speaking up at work or parties is all very well – but what if you’re too shy to open your mouth in the first place? Well, you need to feel the fear – and do it anyway. ‘If you want to create a bond with someone, you need to give them your undivided attention,’ says Dominic Knight. ‘This is impossible if you’re too concerned about how you’re coming across or whether people are judging you negatively. So stop focusing on yourself and focus on making the other person’s day by really connecting with them. You can overcome shyness with practice. It will help to think of times when you’ve had a great conversation with close friends and family to get you in a positive frame of mind.’

‘I’ve failed before – so I’ll fail again’

It’s all too easy to have your confidence quashed by past failures. But who goes through life getting everything right the first time? Nobody! ‘You’ll experience successes and failures constantly throughout your life,’ points out Dominic Knight. ‘Indeed, research has shown that the world’s most successful people were initially great failures. But they kept picking themselves up and persevering each time something didn’t work out. It would be utterly delusional to expect everything to go well the first time you try it. The trick is to learn from your mistakes and to keep trying until you succeed.’