Confidence – The Key to Success
Guest post by Julie Finch
In today’s world, we are all often guilty of being quick to judge on appearances when making assumptions about people we meet, whether they might be potential friends or new work colleagues. As a result, we tend to place a large degree of importance on our personal appearance, and while making sure you are appropriately presented for, perhaps, a job interview will certainly be an important factor, what really counts is your approach and how well you come across as an individual. While everyday things in life, such as finding employment, are much harder for those of us that suffer with disorders or mental health problems, there are still unique hurdles for many of us that can often be overcome by gaining self belief and confidence – which is easier said than done, more often than not.
The amount of confidence you might have really depends on a lot of complicated psychological factors, but is linked to our self esteem, and this can be the first wrong step that many of us take. Recent studies suggest that actually, we should let go of our self esteem entirely, and instead try ‘self-compassion’. What this means is essentially to not be so hard on yourself – to understand that we all make mistakes, and to take a more balanced, neutral approach to when you experience a difficult situation. This might mean, for example, not beating yourself up over how badly you did something, but at the same time not overcompensating with arrogance or refusal to accept failure (although, lets face it, if you are lacking in confidence your reaction is more likely to be in line with the former). One thing that is important to note though, is that self-compassion doesn’t mean simply to give up when you face hardships, or having low goals or ambitions. This is, in fact, the real trick – to be self-compassionate while maintaining drive. Essentially, not being hard on yourself if you should fail, but at the same time still aiming high and remaining focused on achieving your goals is what self-compassion is all about.
Rightly or wrongly, appearance does play a major factor in how we are initially perceived, but it can also be not only a reflection of how we perceive ourselves, but also how we wish to be perceived by others. Generally, when it comes to the work environment in particular, women certainly have it harder than men when it comes to being judged on appearance, and a recent study does seem to suggest that male or female, appearance can play a significant role in the office or employment environment. That said, these initial, and often inaccurate judgments that we make in the first few milliseconds of contact can quickly be refuted by interaction, and this is where having the self confidence and belief can let you shine through. It also means that you should aim to feel comfortable but appropriately dressed for meetings, job interviews, work and so on. Dressing smartly can also help you feel more confident, so taking pride in your appearance is important. Having said that, just as with inner confidence, your outward appearance is something that you should keep balanced as much as possible – going too far in the opposite direction, as it were, and fussing too much over your outward appearance won’t solve any confidence problems in the long run. Ideally, aim for what makes you feel comfortable. While, as mentioned, women will be judged far more than men, there are unique problems that men face, such as baldness, which can be a real confidence killer. When it comes down to it, if you will feel more confident using hair color or hair treatments that can improve these problems whether male or female, then by all means use them.
Other Steps to Take
There are a number of easily available and very worthwhile activities that can be undertaken to improve your confidence too. Acting or amateur drama classes are excellent for this purpose, as they often focus on building confidence in a safe environment first, followed by performances which can be a real boost for anyone who might suffer from shyness or lack of self belief. Dancing classes, Yoga, and any other activity which encourages you to break your inhibitions or get more in touch with your inner self are also very helpful. All in all, the biggest barrier we often have to face in life is ourselves, and once we are happy and content with who we are, there really is no stopping us.