Most of us know that self-confidence, the belief in ourselves and our ability to succeed, is important, yet may struggle to develop it. We also know that how we respond to change — life’s great constant — matters significantly not only in how we feel about ourselves but also in how we face challenges without losing our way.
We sat down with LifeWork faculty member David Waters, a life coach and counselor, to talk a little more about these two key factors for thriving amidst the ongoing twists and turns of life.
LIFENOTES You teach a popular workshop on confidence. Can you say more about how confidence works?
DAVID Confidence is a special kind of energy. When good things happen to us we receive praise or success and our confidence soars. My workshop helps us to tap into the energy of confidence even when things don’t go according to plan.
LIFENOTES And how does building self-confidence help us thrive?
DAVID Confident people tend to see life as an adventure. They are more likely to say yes rather than no. They are risk takers. Confident people tend to have high levels of hope and optimism. These are life’s thrivers.
LIFENOTES Could you suggest one of the many ways you know of to help people boost their confidence?
DAVID We spend some time in the workshop talking about our support networks. It’s much easier to feel confident if you know that your friends, colleagues, and family have got your back. One of the things that we do is an analysis of our support networks and look at how we can strengthen them.
LIFENOTES It seems that today’s world is changing faster than ever — is that true or have people always perceived themselves to be faced with more change than they can handle?
DAVID Today’s world really is changing faster than ever. For hundreds of years before the industrial revolution, technological change was slow and incremental. Today, it’s rare to find a company that makes a five-year plan, as that far in the future now seems so uncertain.
LIFENOTES Why is change hard to manage?
DAVID As a child, it matters whether things like moving to a new school or a new home were seen as an adventure or as something frightening and overwhelming. If it’s the latter, our relationship to any change will be cautious and make us nervous. Being brought up to believe that change can be an adventure sets us up as adults to manage change in a healthy manner.
However, if we were brought up in a constantly changing, chaotic environment, there’s a risk we may become a change junky, exhausting ourselves by constantly seeking the thrill of change.
LIFENOTES What coping strategy or advice would you give someone who is feeling overwhelmed by changes in their life?
DAVID I would encourage them to speak to someone they trust and name all their fears and anxieties. It’s so powerful to name our fears and talk them through to find that they’re not quite so overwhelming after all.
LIFENOTES How can improving our ability to manage change help us thrive?
DAVID Change happens — whatever our feelings about it. Being open to the inevitability of change helps us roll with it rather than feel overwhelmed by it. Even unwanted change can open up new opportunities if we stop to notice them.