I was talking to an influential woman recently who shared with me that she felt that women were often their own worst enemies. She shared an event where she promoted a woman in her company and the woman's reaction was "Really? You think I am ready? Wow.". She also promoted a man and his reaction was quite distinct. He said, "Thank you for recognizing my achievements and hard work." Same situation, different reactions. The man's was one of confidence and the woman's was one of a weak relationship to her own value and confidence.
I would have to speak to her to find out what happened to her or why she had diminished confidence. I can tell you in all my work with women, this is not uncommon. Women often downplay their worth which shows up in not negotiating and standing for a salary they deserve (only 7% of women negotiate for their salaries compared to 53% of men). It also shows up in not getting positions they want and deserve.
One of the most common symptom of this diminished confidence occurs when a woman is acknowledged. Often her reaction is to downplay it, give credit somewhere other than with herself or to say thank you to be polite but have thoughts about being a fraud.
Some other symptoms of diminished confidence are (list not comprehensive):
- You have a recurring sinking feeling of doubt
- If you find yourself having moments of clarity and moments of doubt
- You hate the question, "What do you do?"
- When you say what you do, it is a long winded explanation
- When you want something, you talk and talk and talk and talk... you don't simply state what you want.
- You are not direct/ you expect people to 'get it' when you talk or ask questions.
- You get emotional when challenged or questioned
If you want to build up your confidence, take these steps:
1. Recognize that you have diminished confidence.
2. That you have to engage in the question- what would be possible if I were more confident, and answer that for yourself.
3. What happened?
a. Often a lack of confidence is rooted in evidence you have gathered from past failures.
b. Locate the failure(s)- what happened and then what conclusions and decisions you have made.
c. Notice that your decisions are running your life- not your past failures.
d. When you notice that those decisions are at the root cause of your diminished confidence, let go of those decisions.
e. Make a new decision about yourself and go through your day practicing acting out of that new decision.
4. BONUS: What would you do if you were confident that you are not doing? Now, go do that.
By simply doing an exercise you can boost your own confidence. When you are confident, you can go after what you want and stand for getting it (whatever it is!). I would love to hear from you after you practice elevating your confidence.