The Confidence Bank

There are people who seem to brim with confidence. Lack of experience or knowledge is no barrier to giving something a go, self-belief seemingly overcoming any other limitation. Oh, how I envy them.

It is a relief that in the last decade or so, I have been making regular deposits in my confidence bank. This idea was mentioned in passing by one of my managers at the time. I had changed roles at work, moving into a managerial position. Consistent with my personality, there was some self-flagellation going on in my head as I didn’t think I was performing as well as I could be. My expectations are usually higher than anything imposed upon me externally. The circumstances around the comment elude me now, but after some small success, my manager had said that this win was a deposit to the confidence bank.

This may have been a passing comment but it resonated with me, and it started me thinking differently about the successes in life, both large and small. These successes are not limited to my working life; they can be wins or good moments in relationships, family situations or creative endeavours. It is perhaps similar to a gratitude journal in that if you take the time to notice, appreciate and recognise your wins, they can stand you in good stead when the road is a little rocky, or if you need to do something outside of your experience.

Recently I was asked to do some public speaking. It was a short speech in front of about 150 people. I can hold my own in the talking stakes but getting up on a stage with a microphone in front of me and a sea of faces? When I was asked, I said yes with minimal hesitation. How hard could it be? As the event drew closer the little niggles of doubt wiggled into my subconscious. What if I fluffed the lines? Said something wrong? Tripped over my tongue or my feet, embarrassed myself somehow?

Then I called upon the confidence bank. I am a capable, competent person. I’m naturally an introvert but I have a job which involves dealing with people from all walks of life. I’ve been told that I’m easy to listen to. I thought about how I have put myself on show in other ways – through writing and other acts of creativity. I could do the speech. And I did. Another deposit for the confidence bank.

How do you overcome self-doubt?

[Photo: Bank building at Strathalbyn, South Australia]

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14 thoughts on “The Confidence Bank

  1. Generally I commit to things when I am feeling more positive/confident and they are, or seem to be, distant. The self-doubt creeps in slowly over time but by then I’m usually committed to it and then feel relieved when it all turns out OK. Turning out OK should decrease my self-doubt the next time, but in practice for me it doesn’t. My confidence bank has a hole in it, or at least a few fraudulent direct debits. Perhaps the most helpful thing for me is support; others believing in me when I don’t. That’s not a great position to be in as the support of others is not guaranteed and what if one day there is no-one there? But for most people that is important to one degree or another.

    • You’ve put confidence into context for me – thank you. Leading up to the event I did have people say that it would all be fine, and those little cheers of support definitely helped to slay my usual self-doubt. A bit of nervousness isn’t a bad thing, but knowing that others thought I could do it helped me convince myself. And I like your line about fraudulent direct debits – beautifully put! Thanks!

      • Sometimes it is easy to envy those with bullet proof self-confidence, who can rumble on without the support of others. I’m sure that is less fraught. However, it sometimes comes with an air of arrogance which is the less appealing aspect. The ideal is perhaps quiet self-confidence grounded in competence. On balance I appreciate the slightly anxious, self-depreciating approach to the blustery one 🙂

  2. I have to say I am not high on the confidence scale and public speaking would be one of my least looked forward to activities. Happily I am not often called upon to do so, although running my card making classes has helped enormously. I applaud your efforts, and a confidence bank is a great way of enjoying the feeling of a job well done.

    • Thanks Barbara, and I think your point about presenting as part of your card making classes is a valid one. When you break things down, it can be easier to find that we do quite a bit of public speaking or group engagement or whatever it is in various aspects of our lives. We might not label it as such, but it is something that we do. I appreciate your comments, thank you.

  3. I’ve found that in many cases it is a case of faking it till you make it. Public speaking is a big one for most people. I’m an introvert too, so I never thought I would enjoy speaking in front of people (doing guided tours at a gallery), but over time it became less and less difficult, and now I really love it.

    • That’s brilliant, and a great example of how by doing something in one aspect of your life, it builds confidence for when you need it somewhere else. Well done you!

  4. I noticed that practice makes perfect. The more you pause and notice all the small things you achieve the more confidence you get in yourself. Being too harsh on myself did not bring any good for me at least.

  5. Great post, much enjoyed. I have some savings in the confidence bank too but find the currency doesn’t buy me much when it comes to group situations. However, I have found visualising myself sailing successfully through a nerve wracking situation helps as, when the time comes, I press the replay button and hope the chaos factor waits a bit ☺️ Much admire you for public speaking though as that is surely the ultimate test.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and visualisation beforehand definitely helps. In moments of self-irritation, I ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen, think about the likelihood of that eventuating and usually just get on with it if I have to. My imagination usually conjures up worse things than reality can throw at me! Thank you for your feedback.

  6. I try to remember everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. It’s natural to be a little tense at the beginning of something new. Those who are truly compassionate understand this. It’s those you should keep in mind. The bitter critics only make things worse and don’t merit our consideration. It’s also a good idea to keep some kind of success journal. Put things big and small in it. You’ll find out that you’re not the schmuck the little voice in your head sometimes tells you that you are.

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