The No 1 Way You Are Sabotaging Your Confidence (and what to do about it)

I’m fascinated by confidence. I’m intrigued as to why people feel confident (or not), in what circumstances they feel confident (or not) and why some people are generally more confident than others.

And it’s interesting that a lack of confidence shows up in different ways for different people. In my work I come across a lot of successful people who have confidence in their business idea or their area of professional expertise; however, they have a lack of confidence when it comes to standing up and speaking in front of large groups of people. Other people I know have confidence to take on new and unfamiliar tasks or make huge changes in their lives such as moving to a new country; however, they may lack the confidence to speak up in meetings or challenge a decision made by someone they perceive to be more important than themselves.

Often a lack of confidence will stem from three fears:

  • the fear of not belonging
  • the fear of not being good enough
  • the fear of not being liked/loved

These fears are all about what other people think, but confidence really comes down to a belief in yourself; a belief in your own power and own abilities. So essentially confidence is really about our ability to judge our own abilities; it’s about the story we tell ourselves.

Having said that, one of the things I’ve noticed is that some of the most overly confident people I know can often be a bit lacking in ability and some of the most under confident people I know have loads of ability; and sometimes there seems to be no correlation between someone’s ability and their level of confidence!

You probably know someone who is amazing at what they do but completely lack confidence; maybe that person is you.

So we need to become aware of how we judge our own abilities and the story we tell ourselves. Examples of some of the stories we might tell ourselves are:

  • “I’m hopeless at speaking in public.”
  • “I have to work long hours in order to feel like I’ve earned my place in this job.”
  • “I’m not good at speaking up in meetings because everyone else in the room knows more than me.”

Stories are self-fulfilling - whatever story you consistently tell yourself is likely to be true for you.  For example, if you consistently say “I’m terrified of public speaking”, you actually start to believe it and it becomes embedded as a belief. But it really is just made up in your mind. If you recognise and change your story, you can significantly change your life.

So the first thing to do if you want to build confidence is to start to become aware of the stories you are telling yourself and interrupt them; start to question them and challenge them.

What’s your confidence story? Is the story you are telling yourself sabotaging your confidence? In what way can you change your story to improve your level of confidence?

In a future post, I’ll share my confidence story, how it sabotaged my success and what I have done to change it. In the meantime, I urge you to take time to understand your own confidence story and change it if it is hindering your ability to achieve your personal and professional goals.

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction.

Mel's book 'The Authority Guide to Pitching Your Business - how to make an impact and be remembered... in under a minute!' is available on Amazon. To find out more go to or follow Mel on Twitter @MelSherwood_