Are you Confident? I am! … Sometimes
I never had confidence. I was so short of it, I didn’t even realise that’s what I was missing. I called it other things - I’m shy, I’m an introvert, I’m a chronic depressive. Turns out I’m all of the above.
Thankfully I stumbled onto Claire Schrader and her Sunflower Effect. I was desperate - unemployable, alone, one poor decision after another - so I was ready to try something I wouldn’t ordinarily do, not in a million years, ever. That is, take part in something, with other people, total strangers at that, although at the time I barely enjoyed doing things with people I actually liked.
Twelve weeks later I felt like a totally different person. Seriously. Once I took that first step and committed to the course, my subconscious took care of a lot of the work. I think. Suddenly, I was joining in, going after things I wanted, being spontaneous instead of letting my critical voice take over - Don’t! You’ll hate it! Everyone will think you’re dumb. You’ll be alone, again! There was still a little bit of anxiety but I could handle it instead of becoming paralysed and staying stuck.
Since then, there’s been a couple of devastating blows to my confidence. One lasted a day, the other a year. (Obviously there’s been wobbles, we all have wobbles, it’s just that these two stand out.)
Some time into my new beautiful confident life, I signed up for a singing workshop. I didn’t even need to be able to sing. (It’s like the confidence went straight to my head.) Despite it being made clear that participants did not have to have any vocal talent, I was the only one who actually didn’t. And I didn’t care. Confidence!
Everything was going fine until the final exercise. I had to tap into an emotion, something serious, so I could focus on that emotion while I sang. So I landed on something which turned out to be totally devastating, as I was suddenly in floods of tears. I couldn’t talk, let alone sing. I couldn’t make a sound for a good couple of hours. A singing workshop, which was supposed to help me express myself, had actually stolen my voice. Luckily I was able to build myself back up again (lots of breathing and reframing) and pretty quickly too, despite being struck temporarily mute.
(I was struck temporarily mute. Fuck.)
The other time was more recent, and it lasted a year thanks to Lockdown. I had been lucky enough to start a job in January 2020 which turned out to be pandemic proof. Unfortunately it totally destroyed my mental health. Calling all introverts, in case, like me, you aren’t able to work this out for yourselves, a call centre is not the place for us. It wasn’t so much the callers, who were often awful, true. What really got to me was the constant monitoring: of the calls, the number of calls per hour, the content of the calls, the way I spoke on the calls. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. It didn’t matter what feedback I was getting from my Team Leader. I was aware only of all the mistakes I knew I was making. I was in a job I was totally unsuitable for.
I started having panic attacks. I learned a very valuable breathing technique to help control them (in for four, hold for five and slowly breathe out for six). This worked for several months, until it didn’t. I couldn’t get to the end of the week without having to abandon work in favour of a crying jag. It didn’t matter that I had been able to control the attacks previously. It was as if something had to give. Breathing and reframing were little to no help this time (and in the past that helped me get over muteness which was clearly incredibly fucking serious).
Looking for another job was problematic since I now knew I was incapable of doing anything whatsoever. Luckily, I did get something. And shortly before that I had started my training with Claire to become a facilitator of The Sunflower Effect. Like an orchid, in the right environment, I blossomed. I felt competent again.
I used to not understand how people who considered themselves confident would say they had lost it. Either we’re confident or we’re not, and that’s just how we are. Now I know different. Confidence comes and goes. Perhaps, having had to discover it within myself, that’s what allows me to regain it all the stronger when I do hit a bad patch. (As long as I’m not in a near impossible situation like working in a call centre. Sometimes things really are simply beyond our control. Do you know what confidence allows me to do? To accept rather than criticise myself for not being suited to every single thing out there.)
Whether you’ve yet to uncover your confidence (I promise, it is there somewhere) or if you’re in search of what you’ve lost, come to www.uglyducklifecoaching.co.uk for details on the Sunflower Effect Confidence Courses and Life Coaching. We’re always going to have bad moments (like, you know, breakdowns). And we can surprise ourselves by how we bounce back. We can bounce back. Even I managed it.