Self-Confidence Lost? 5 Steps to Getting It Back

Here one day and gone the next. It’s a fickle state—our self-confidence. The littlest thing can fuel it or snuff it out.

Self-confidence is part of our brand identity. Our bosses and coworkers look for it, even evaluate it. It’s part of our behavioral attire, so we must do our best to wear it well.

The fear of exposure 

The problem is that we’re not always self-confident. When we’re not, of course, we don’t want it to show.

Revealing faltering confidence in our skills, leadership, and decisions can have devastating career effects. It can disarm our followers and give our detractors a target.

So we do our best to cover up our declines in confidence. Too bad we can’t hide it from ourselves.

Periods of lost self-confidence affect everyone, not just you and me.

Highly accomplished, consistently successful, standard-setting individuals paid lots of money and given lots of public visibility lose self-confidence too. 

Take Roger Federer, for example: Professional tennis player who’s won a record five ATP World Tour Finals, 17 ATP Masters Series tournaments, an Olympic gold medal, and was once ranked number one in the world for a record 237 consecutive weeks. (Not bad, eh?)

Now 30 years old and ranked #3 in the world (still not bad!), Federer, recently played in the Western & Southern Open Cincinnati, a key tournament leading to the U.S. Open in New York City.

Steve Tignor from Tennis.com wrote these observations reflecting on Federer’s self-confidence:

“Before his first match in Cincy… Federer talked about his nerves coming into the event, about how he didn’t want to go out in the first round…It’s not as if Federer had suddenly decided to bare his soul…But the emphasis was different. Federer was more open about both his anxiety and his desire to get back on a winning track.”

No matter how many past successes we’ve achieved, self-confidence is about how we’ll perform today and tomorrow. It’s about what we want to achieve going forward.

Fortunately, we can draw on our past successes, no matter how big or small, to help us restore self-confidence.

Getting it back

We’re all up against the inner battle to sustain our self-confidence, especially as we try to advance our careers.

Here are some steps to help regain self-confidence lost:

  1. Face it—Denial gets you nowhere, except perhaps in a deeper hole. When your confidence flags, get busy figuring out the cause—a situation, a look, something said, your own reactions, or a disappointed expectation. Once you know the cause, you can address it.
  2. Dig in—The best remedy for fractured self-confidence is action. You may need to rework an assignment, re-learn a policy or practice, talk to a mentor or trusted coworker, redo your plan, or put yourself out there. Take charge.
  3. Buck up—Remind yourself that this will pass. Focus on what you’ve learned, what you did well and can do more of, and how to position your next move to generate a more desirable outcome. Tomorrow’s another day.
  4. Reach out—Find a positive person who’s successfully experienced career ups and downs, someone who can offer useful perspectives to help you. A success coach, mentor, or other advisor may be good for you and happy to help.
  5. Connect—Being with others keeps us from wallowing. Our associations feed our perspectives, distract us from our worries, and keep us moving. Holing up in your office or avoiding interactions adds to the isolation that often comes when our self-confidence is low.

Take heart.

We talk about losing self-confidence like it’s a permanent state. If that were so, there would be no comebacks. Our job is to be good stewards of our self-confidence, being careful not to neglect it, give it away, or allow it to take a long holiday.

No matter how dreary things might seem, there’s always reason to take heart and grab hold. Forward you go!

Photo from Cristian V. via Flickr

75 thoughts on “Self-Confidence Lost? 5 Steps to Getting It Back

  1. Good suggestions, Dawn. Here are a few more…

    Break it down. Sometimes you are good at the what but struggling with the how. Don’t confuse the two. If your job search is stalled, it may have less to do with your skills and capabilities and more to do with the way you are searching. When you reach out, as Dawn recommends, break down what is really eating away at your self-confidence.

    Control what you can. There is always something you can maintain control over – diet, exercise, sleep, meditation/reflection time, relationships. When life seems to be kicking you on one place, take control of other things. Even better, start the day focusing on something that is good for yourself. You’ll find you hang onto that small dose of success throughout the day.

    • Great to hear from you, Marc. It’s been a whilel :-) Love your additional steps: Break it down and Control what you can. You’re so right: “…start the day focusing on something that is good for yourself. You’ll find you hang onto that small dose of success throughout the day.” Sometimes we just need a little boost to clear away our negative thoughts and get the spring back in our step.

      Sometimes when I feel my confidence is off and have a sense what’s causing it, I’ll write down a course of action–a plan–and start to work at it. Somehow that shuts down the anxiety and gives me a clear head. Thanks for adding these great points.

      • Anil, Thanks so much for you lovely comment. Nothing makes me happier than to know that what I write provides a little help and relief. Your complimentary words are a huge motivation to me to keep writing. I hope you’ll come back again. Gratefully, ~Dawn

        • Hi Dawn: I am on my way to rediscover the lost self confidence, I had so much of it earlier. Your insight on how to get it back has truly given me relief and hope! Thanks – Haris

          • Haris–I am very grateful for your kind words. If what I’ve written has helped you, I’ve provided something that continues to motivate my writing. I put up a post yesterday on the importance of encouragement to our self-confidence and the need to us to find and keep close those people who encourage us. I might be useful to you too. Good luck with your rediscovery process. It will be successful because you will it. Best, ~Dawn

  2. I like games as well as the next, and confidence plays out for me in the game of Hide-and-Seek. When I “loose it” I sure can’t find it or seek it out if I don’t own up to it or “Face It” as you say.

    What I like about games is the more you play, the better you get, so staying in the game is key. When we falter, we’re sure to loose confidence, like Federer. Looking at the past can be helpful, but in Federer’s case his past and recent imperfections were busting his confidence I suspect. I think taking on each Day as the Gift that it is to start fresh and anew can help erase confidence lost–yes Buck Up!

    A wonderful reminder for the 1st day of a new week and a chance to start fresh. So glad to be Connected to you and your buffet of always fresh perspectives, Dawn.

    • This is great, Pam. I love the hide-and-seek analogy and that “staying in the game is key.” You’re right: each day is a gift and a chance to start fresh. Sometimes we forget that. We feel on top of our game one day and in the doldrums the next, sometimes without any obvious cause. The “cure” can be as easy as sleeping it off or as challenging as a full-blown action plan. Your comments and kind words buoy up my self-confidence more than you could possibly know. For that I am always grateful.

  3. I was going to write this post but you beat me to it. And I’m glad because this is a terrific line: We talk about losing self-confidence like it’s a permanent state. If that were so, there would be no comebacks. Our job is to be good stewards of our self-confidence, being careful not to neglect it, give it away, or allow it to take a long holiday.

    Thank goodness it’s not a permanent state or I would have written myself off years ago. let’s reach out to each other, it’s been awhile and the summer’s almost over. I hear CityVu calling our names. Cherry

    • Cherry, what a beautiful comment. I’m sorry I beat you to it but immensely gratified by your phenomenal reaction. I’m with you, happy that lapses in self-confidence aren’t permanent. I just wish they didn’t feel that way when they decend. Clearly they get replaced by up days. It’s just important to keep our self-confidence in hand even when it tries to get out of hand.

      Yes, we’re overdue for a cup of tea at the CityVu. I’m ready to set a date!

  4. The one mistake you made is saying ‘try to find the cause’. This is impossibly stupid to put up on a regain confidence website. Ive lost my confidence years ago, I’m only 20 and my god its ruinging me, but you never look for the root, just accept it and try to get past it, thats the stage im on. If you look for the root, it WILL stress you out AND eat you up, ruin your confidence even more! Ive figured all this over the last 4 years of trying to regain it.

  5. i think to regain confidence is to say that your better then everybody else and once you become loud and proud and abnoxious and ignorant and you become assertive and think your shit dont stink then you become the winner in life.

    • Mary,

      Thanks for your comment. Confidence is not arrogance. Feeling sure of oneself in certain situations doesn’t mean we are confident in every one. Confidence helps us to grow and become more proficient at whatever it is that we seek to do. It helps us to do good work that helps others and our society. Of course there are extremes in every kind of behavior, but that is generally in the minority. I hope you can take some time to look around at the people you admire, those who have been helpful to you, and then consider how they “wear” their self-confidence and use it. All the best, ~Dawn

  6. please can someone help me out here, i lost my self confidence because of broken family structure, no mother or father to guide me through. this has not help me instead broken my confidence and contributes to me being dull and bored.

    • Josephine, Restoring self-confidence takes personal courage and relentless commitment. When we feel dull and bored, it may be because we’ve allowed ourselves to avoid the steps we need to take to keep moving forward. If we get depressed and feel discouraged, it’s tempting to give in. It’s hard to think about next steps and even harder to take them as we worry that we might fail, taking away more self-confidence. I’d suggest finding 2 or 3 people with different strengths and experiences who care about helping you and ask them for mentorship, guidance, and/or perspectives. We’re not expected to find our way alone. If we don’t have family as a foundation, then we need to create a family from our friends and associates. Our lives are our own to live. If we don’t there’s no one to blame but ourselves. At least that’s how it has been for me. All the best, ~Dawn

  7. I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING I COULD TO BRING BACK MY LOST CONFIDENCE BUT IT’S EVEN GETTING MUCH WORSE & I’M STARTING TO HATE GOING OUT & MEET MY FRIENDS. I’M SO SCARED, I REALLY NEED HELP. . .

    • Nasser, Thanks for your note and for sharing your struggle. Knowing and admitting the toll that you lost self-confidence is an important step. Since you realize the negative effects that are accruing, I’d suggest finding a counseling professional who can help you work through the issues that are affecting you. Now’s the time to act. Putting off getting help is counter-productive. It’s a cost with a big pay off down the road. Please give that some thought. All the best, Dawn

  8. I’m feeling less confidant in the past couple of months!! I tried hardly to keep the balance for a while; for example pushing hard to stay positive and face the challenges more confidently, but, later I eventually started losing that balance and I was not being able to stay in the game…

    Face it; recently I have moved less planned to another country but mentally having been preparing my self, that sooner or later I have to escape from Syria and relocate in the United States due the war conflict which is going on, the fist couple of months I was more confident that I will succeed here taking into consideration the challenges of relocation in a total different world, although having been familiar with the American culture after being graduated from the American University, as time passes I’m starting to feel that my past experiences is not helping me effectively and increased pressure of uncertainty is chasing me… Fear of not having job and not succeeding after couple of failures has also affected my confident. Also spent the last mont recovering from my finger, due to being hit accidentally while fixing some parts in my home garage

    The article and the responses were very helpful and refreshing, I would appreciate any comments.
    thx, kev

    • Kev, It takes confidence to do brave things and to take big chances. It seems that you have done that. Confidence has a way of coming and going under normal conditions but it is even more fickle when we have had to face difficult challenges. There is only so much confidence that we can muster from within ourselves. That means that we need to find others who will help us maintain positive and realistic perspectives about our accomplishments, our opportunities, and our disappointments. When one door closes, another opens. So we need to stay alert to that open door and be ready to go through it. I would suggest that you try to find a trusted mentor, advisor, and/or friend who can identify with your situation, someone who has wisdom that you can draw from. Please give yourself credit for what you have already conquered, continue to pursue your goals, and believe that what you are seeking is also seeking you. Thanks so much for reading my article and for your wonderful comment. Best, ~Dawn

        • Thank you, Pakal. That is very nice feedback. I value the comments people take the time to make and believe they deserve a real response. I’m glad I have the time and capacity to do that right now. You are very kind to offer your support. Gratefully, ~Dawn

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  10. I have passed my childhood & adulthood in a vulnerable state as my father has been bed ridden for sickness until now.
    I have develope a charter of shyness. My educational back ground is better. But now in varsity life i m facing problem. I can not mix with other students in a spontaneous way. My academi result is also turning into a lowes GPA. I do not know what to do now. Just six semesters from eight semester have passed.
    I fell all my confidence just left me. Is there any way ….

    • Jasim,

      When our self-confidence is low, we all feel adrift. Understanding what causes that state and how it is affecting our ability to succeed is a huge challenge. You describe some very real life circumstances that have shaped you and affected the way you are responding academically. Addressing those factors is an important first step. Considering the complexities that underlie your self-confidence struggles and the impact they are having on your school work, I’d suggest making an appointment with a student counselor at your school who would be in a position to help you. Please don’t try to do this alone. You need a person whom you trust and who is in a direct position to help, someone within reach every day. Be courageous and do this for yourself. All the best, Dawn

  11. dear dawn
    u r just like my grndmothr who used to console me in my hard times she just passed away 2 monts back i really loved her a lot , but nthng can be done abt it.
    i hope u can understand me she ws more like a best frnd even more than my mother to me she loved me so much now i am so depressed for the past more than an year . i used to be so confidennt in all that i did that i never let anyone stand any near to my achievements ,but after my college my parents never supported me in wht i was good at and always were behind studies and today is the day hat i have done masters in business administration and i dont feel to do anything i have lost it i dont want to get in my dads business actually now i just dont even know what i want in life . i just feel like i am a burden on everyone i dnt knw what to do if at all there is some way to come out of it plz plz plz help me. my mobile no is 9888104445 i am from india if u can let me know your no il be happy to call you to get my prb resolved if its ok with u . i am in serious needs of help plz consider it.
    thank u

    • Karan,

      I am very sorry for your loss. I too was close with my grandmother and understand how you feel in part. I am replying but unapproved your comment once I realized that you had put your mobile number there. It’s not the best to present that number to others. I am sorry that I can’t be the kind of help you need. I was a bit confused when you wrote that she passed 2 months ago but that you have been depressed about it for over a year. All I say is that time has a way of healing our pain. You would be best to find someone in your community that you can talk to when you need them–a friend, an advisor, a mentor. I wish you well, ~Dawn

      • I am struggling trying to regain my confidence. I feel I “lost it” along the way over the past couple of years, not sure how. I’m in an industry that involves me auditioning for work. I’ve noticed lately that my nerves tend to get in the way of my performance. I try to stay relaxed and calm but I feel that’s not what’s coming across the camera when I go into these auditions. I think part of it is the negative feedback I have received from my cousin who is actively trying to serve as my “manager”. I know she means well but every time I talk to her, there’s always some negative thing that comes out of her mouth. I feel like these negative comments play on my psyche. I love and adore her but really hate the comments.

        • K., Your comment really moved me. I can’t imagine a more stressful situation than having to audition to find work. It’s no wonder that nerves are a major challenge. In truth, you already know a big piece of the remedy for what you’re facing. Getting oneself ready to perform requires a lot of positive visioning, seeing/hearing yourself demonstrate your abilities. Successful coaches in very field understand the importance of positive feedback and believing in your ability first and foremost. Yes, it’s a balance between understanding where you excel and where you can improve. When you go for that audition, though, all your focus needs to be on how you excel.

          I suspect you know where I’m going with this by now. If your cousin blankets you in the negative, she should no longer be your manager. In order to protect your self-confidence, you need to stay away from negative people…replacing them with positive ones you trust to understand your needs, help you fully tap into your strengths, and work with you on how to develop your talents further.

          I know it will be difficult to “fire” your manager since she probably doesn’t fully realize how her negatives are hurting you. So you need to do your best to explain how her words are undercutting your self-confidence. Try to use one or two very specific examples to illustrate your point. She may want to try again but I’m not sure you have the time or energy to wait until she fixes her approach, if she can. You might suggest cutting the cord for 6 months, finding someone new to work with, and then seeing where things stand later.

          I hope this helps. Good luck with your auditioning and the return of a buoyant self-confidence.

          Best,
          Dawn

  12. My heart start pounding when i talked to other. I feel extremely nervous during the interview or talking to stranger even i can’t talk properly with a
    receptionist. I feel shy talking to people over the phone line but I feel comfortable among my friends .
    am i need doctor? pls help me….

    • Tyagi, Many people experience the same nervousness that you do, especially in situations where they feel the pressure to succeed and/or be accepted. Depending upon how the severe the situation is and how it is affecting your quality of life, you may benefit from speaking to a professional counselor or even a mentor. Overcoming nervousness may require you to practice what you intend to say to others before you’re put in a stress-making situation. That would mean finding someone to do practice interviewing with you, role playing those phone calls, and even forcing yourself to talk to people you don’t know at a sales counter. Many people who are introverts by nature experience the same feelings you describe. So you might consider reading Quiet by Linda Cain or The Introvert Advantage by Marti Laney Olsen. I hope is some help to you. ~Dawn

  13. Hi,
    I am wondering if you may be interested in doing a link
    exchange? I see your website: http://dawnlennon.wordpress.
    com/2011/08/22/self-confidence-lost-5-steps-to-getting-it-back/ and my website are primarily based around the same subject matter.
    I’d love to swap links or perhaps guest author a write-up for you. Many thanks.

  14. Well its so much harder when ur in the rut of low self worth. I like what u say though at the very end that its not permanent it really gives one hope. Ive been trying to gain it back for so long Im beginning to think its ano elusion that I had confidence in the past. Im so flat , so flat I dont remember ever having it. It stresses me im such a failure and ive begun to accept it no matter how painful it feels.

    • Lucy,

      You are so right that self-confidence can be elusive. One day we feel upbeat and the next we feel discouraged. The key is to take stock of the factors that contribute to those good days–a conversation with a good friend or mentor, a work task finished on time, positive feedback from a customer or coworker, a good night’s sleep, alone time that makes you feel refreshed, time away from toxic people, and a little recreation/exercise. The more you can focus on what you do well and stop dwelling on the negative, the better you’ll feel. I once had a career coach who told me to start each day in front of a mirror and declare 3 positives about myself and then to do the same a night before I went to bed. This way I put in my mind these positive images that I could keep going back to each day. Hey, it’s worth a try. Be good to yourself. It’s what you deserve. ~Dawn

  15. I am in a really bad position , even hard for me to explain – am working in an international company , but from few months now i feel like i have lost my confidence – when ever i am in meeting where i have to explain some thing , my nerves start shaking – minds start going in completely another direction – meeting new people also creates the same impact – most of the times I do not have any thing to say – things which i remember are completely off the road during that meeting – and after meeting i am thinking that ” Oh i was suppose to give them this reply instead of sitting quiet ”

    WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST …and i think now that other people have also started noticing this…which is really bad

    • Awais,

      Thanks so much for your question. Your discomfort comes through loud and clear. Loss of confidence is complicated but getting it back is a function of managing the way we think. So it all starts with us.

      In your case, try to pinpoint exact events, conversations, and/or actions that were the trigger for your loss of confidence. Then do your best to analyze what they did to the way you think about yourself and why. Ask for input and insights from others you trust, like a mentor.

      In about a week, I’ll be writing a post on a new book that addresses loss of confidence in the workplace. Perhaps that post and the book itself will be useful to you. So please keep an eye out of that post. Hang in there, ~Dawn

  16. I was about to write a post on losing self-confidence and gaining it back but I googled first to make sure there are no other blogs bearing same title as I don’t want to unintentionally step on someone else’s toes. Although my post is more of how I lost my self-confidence and how I’m working (struggling) on gaining it back. I saw your post and interestingly, you said it well. I lost my self-confidence gradually over 2 years. I moved to a new position with less experience, knowledge and guidance. Aside from that, I had to go through the learning process together with a team looking up to me for decisions and had to undergo different changes in the organization and made sure the house was always in order. A lot of things happened all at the same time. First year, I was newly promoted then had miscarriage. Our fist baby after nearly 2 years of marriage. Second year, multiple objectives happening at the same time. My confidence was already faltering then because I had always felt I was a failure. I felt that through the people around me. No one’s giving me the sincere assurance or pat at the back I badly needed. Despite almost working 18hrs a day, losing my social life, less time with husband and family, etc. I couldn’t handle the stress anymore so I requested to be transferred. With the positive answer, I felt better, looked forward to it and worked harder to make sure everything’s fine before I move. Then an unexpected thing happened. The house fell down and I was really hit hard, slapped me with I didn’t do my job. While going through the process of restoring the house and waiting for the new position, I completely lost my self-confidence. Now I’m in a new position and struggling to gain back my self-confidence. I thought of going back to writing as one way to rebuild what was lost. Through writing, I am able to bring out my thoughts once again and slowly able to gain back my voice until I can already speak out what I think. You’re right with reconnecting with people. I am slowly getting in touch with old friends, people who new the confident me, people who rely to me before so I can get the self-assurance I need. Though I must say that I still become misty-eyed every time I think of what happened. As much as possible, I don’t want to pity myself anymore. I just hope I can speak with confidence once again.

    • Felicerc,

      What a challenging chain of events! Thanks for sharing them and how they have affected your self-confidence. From a distance, I can say that your experiences are a testament to your resilience, courage, and capabilities. Look, you’ve been through a lot and continue to press on. You have come through a cycle of real turmoil and haven’t quit. Your self-confidence is still there although it may seem to be under the surface. If it weren’t you would have collapsed. Instead you reassessed sources of your strength and recharged them. What you have now are serious “rings of fire” that you’ve run through successfully. From them you have gained new perspectives, insights, and life experiences that you will draw on every step of the way going forward. So pat yourself on the back, continue rebuilding, and serve your reawakening self-confidence a nice hot latte! All the best, ~Dawn

    • Nil,

      You might want to read my most recent post called: Miserable in Your Job? Wake Up Your Dreams. I think it might be helpful.

      Our dreams for what we want in our careers only get realized when we take action, consistently and persistently, to achieve them. You need a plan and support to keep you focused and motivated.

      Good luck, ~Dawn

  17. Hi I just came upon the realization today that I have lost confidence in my skills. I used to work in the architectural industry but after being laid off a few times I switched to more of a HR related role. Recently I have been trying to search for more creative opportunities and I found 2 great positions with a company that I have always admired The only problem is that I am afraid to apply because the company is a top creative firm and the positions would require me to resurrect a lot of my old skills, some of which I have not used in a couple of years. I used to be confident that those skills would always be there but now that these opportunities are in my face, I am seeing that I am not confident in my skills anymore. Is there anything that I could do to stop these thoughts so I can take seize this opportunity?

    This company is awesome and I just don’t want to let it pass me by because I am being insecure about my skills.

    Thanks for reading.

    • AW,

      If you hadn’t ridden a bike in two years, would you think you couldn’t? Take heart…your skills are still there. No matter where you work, the skills you take with you have to be re-honed to the assignments that you get. Keep in mind that company’s hire based on the principle that “past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.” So as you approach this new possibility, make a list of the results, outcomes, impacts, and initiatives that you achieved and visualize all that you did to achieve them. That’s what you’ll be sharing when you get an interview with that awesome company.

      We all tend to lose confidence in our skills when we’ve stopped using them regularly. Now’s the time to get back into practice, even creating assignments for your own pleasure or volunteering to do something for someone else, just to realign your thinking.

      The only way you’ll have a chance to work for a creative company is to apply. The more you stay out of the game, the more you are undermining your self-confidence. Remember that you were laid off which is a function of the economy, not your capabilities. You need to stay in the game no matter what. The companion to self-confidence is self-belief. Both test our mental toughness and will to keep pressing when the obstacles seem daunting. Success doesn’t always come fast, but it comes when we stick with it.

      So hang in there…and go for it. You know deep down that you can.
      Dawn

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  19. hey, i am currently a high school student who really wants to become a doctor.i used to be a great student but the problem i am facing is that i scored low in my class…i did not work hard enough but still i studied and my grades fell a bit too low…and my class is a lot different than normal classes as in my school we have merit based classes. i have been performing well so i was in the highest merit class but due to scoring low my principal called me in and he said he would not demote me to lower merit section but he said a lot of deserving students could not be in the highest merit section due to me. i feel bad, extremely sad and depressed as if i have snatched their rights away. i went to couple of friends who suggested that i should stay in this section and work hard to prove him that i am better than what my scores represent. i reappeared in chemistry in which i scored lowest but paper did not go as well as i expected. i work really hard and try to give hundred percent but i just feel as if i have lost that power which once made me the best student. my class fellows usually make rude comments like you should not be with us in this section. My parents expect a LOT from me and i just feel like crying and giving up. in my country you need to score very high to become a doctor and if i don’t score excellent then my chances of becoming a doctor would just dwindle away. please help me…i feel like i have so self confidence and what ever i do will just end up being a big mess..i feel as if i will never be able to score well…i was very good at public speaking but i forgot my welcome speech as after my results i kept on feeling i am good at nothing. i don’t talk to my parents about how i feel because i do not want them to stress out and think i am not strong enough. please help me…i feel like a failure who can never achieve her goals. thanks for reading this. you are a great person :)

    • Maira,

      Down times like the ones you are experiencing teach us the most about ourselves, so it’s important to take advantage of what the pain, disappointment, and doubt are teaching you. Please take some time to think about your desire to become a doctor, about the way you’ve approached your studies, about initiatives you have taken/can take to get the help/support you need to press on, and about your strength to block out the negatives and replace them with positives. Take some time and write down your thoughts freely about these issues, set them aside for a day or two, and go back to them for the revelations they will likely reveal.

      Since you know you are struggling, it’s counter-productive to struggle alone. Now’s the time to seek out a teacher, mentor, trusted adviser, and friends who will give you the truthful feedback you need and help you put together a disciplined plan to right the ship. Their help will keep you from getting caught up in the non-productive cycle of despair.

      It seems to me that you have learned a lot about yourself already, which is great. You just need a very specific plan of action and a mindset that will give you faith that you can and will convince your student colleagues that you deserve to continue with the doctor path if that’s truly what you want. Setbacks can become launching pads if we take the right approach. I hope this helps a little, Maira. Thanks for reading my post…please visit my site again. Keep the faith! ~Dawn

      • thank you! i am so glad you replied =) i will definitely try to implement on the advises you gave me… i am very close to elder sister and brother and i did talk to them and they encouraged me and i feel a lot better…and a lot productive…i will always visit your site regularly! thanks once again! you are the best! =D

        • Hi! Maira

          You are so kind to write back and pay me such a wonderful compliment.I am very grateful. You did so well talking with your sister and brother, so congratulations on that very important step. I’m so happy they were encouraging and that they will give you the support you need. I’m sure it made them very happy to be there for you. So continued good luck and progress. Well done! Please keep me posted. ~Dawn

  20. its like i have my class 12 exam (india)…. and a lot depends on the result i have studied everything confidently but now i dont know how i am loosing my confidence like i wont be able to score average yet alone when i have been a topper throughout the years….maybe this pressure thing is catching me out ….just help ….waiting for the reply

    • Adil,

      It’s normal to study hard and then have doubts, even when you know that you’ve always come through. This time will be no different, so you have to remind yourself about all the times before when you succeeded. Sometimes you have to fake your own confidence by feeling the knowledge that you have mastered in your studies. Try to visualize the pages and books you’ve mastered and see yourself answering the questions correctly. Then do everything you can to relax your mind. Send yourself positives messages about how much you believe in yourself and trust that the right outcome will come your way. The best you can do is to do your best. It sounds like you’ve done the preparation, so the hardest part is over. Be positive, okay. ~Dawn

  21. thanks a ton that u replied ……..one more thing….yes i studied a lot …..but i have always had trouble in revising the syllabus…its like i feel that when i have studied everything why do i need to study now…its 2 and a half month before exam … and all i need to do is revise and try out mock tests …just cant concentrate while revising…sometimes its like i am solving a question but cant get the answers then i go mad that i have already done it before and cant do it now…like whats happening… i mean when i try to look at future i am like will i be 100 percent at the day of exam….Actually i was ever confident but then everybody …teachers and students started questioning if i was always over confident ….so from then i started to question my ability and confidence….please reply soon…..and thanks again that you replied

    • Adil, It is quite possible to over-study for an exam and then to worry you haven’t studied enough. I’d suggest that you study and let some time pass and then review what you’ve already learned. More than likely you will recall quickly what you have mastered and then fine-tune other details. Often when we’re not required to recall what we learned during a waiting period, we believe that we’ve forgotten things. Usually, when we’re under test conditions and our minds are focused on the test itself, all the knowledge comes roaring back. Try not to over-think the situation and what others around you are saying. Best, ~Dawn

  22. got to see your reply today ….thanks …your reply really got me thinking not to overthink and over react…..i must have been stubborn customer for you…but thanks anyway …u are a genius …keep helping people….love you madam Dawn

    • Adil – Thanks so much for your praise and encouragement. You made my day. I’m delighted that I was helpful to you. Everything always works itself out. Hang in there, ~Dawn

  23. I’m a 17yrs old Indian schoolgirl from a mediocre family. Have always got excellent marks in the exams. After getting promoted to the 11th standerd, have been losing grip on my subjects and facing something never faced, without any stout reason. I’ve always been confident in perfect measure. But recently feeling like I’ve been thrown into a black hole. What to do?

    • Dipanjali, Thanks so much for writing. Please know that everyone goes through these ups and downs of confidence. Some may call it the fear of success or at least the fear your inability to keep succeeding. It would help you to figure out what one or two events/experiences have cause you to experience these self-doubts. Then analyze them and consider what you can do to address them. It’s often very helpful to find one trusted person–a family member, teacher, guide, mentor–with whom you can discuss how you’re feeling and help you put into perspective the thoughts you are having. Remember even if we think the glass is half empty, it’s still always half full. Be confident that you will continue to do well. ~Dawn

  24. Hi ..I have recently moved to the UK . I am a very confident person , very sociable . But ever since I have come to the UK , my confidence has gone down , people are not friendly and I do not have any friends or people I can talk to at work . Also , my work is not going well .My manager is not happy with me and my concentration at work has become low . I am constantly thinking when this ordeal of being in UK will be over . I am trying to spend good time during the weekend by visiting touristy places and that is keeping me occupied .I want my confidence back . Please suggest.

    • Parul, Many thanks for sharing your situation. This has been a big change for you and change is always a challenge because it is the END of your work and life situations as you’d come to know them. You may have set expectations about what work would be like in the UK which haven’t panned out yet, which may contribute to your declining self-confidence. It doesn’t sound like you’ve been in the UK very long, so for starters I suggest that you reset expectations and give things time. If you’re going to work “constantly thinking when this ordeal of being in UK will be over” you are setting yourself up for poor performance. It would be better to recommit yourself to the work. If you’re boss isn’t happy, find out exactly where you need to improve and then dig in. If your concentration is low, then you need to take steps to beef it up. You can either give into the negatives or fight to overcome them. I suspect you have all the tools to do better. You just need want to. I hope this helps. Much luck, ~Dawn

  25. gaining confidence is not a big deal , but what if your confidence is transferred to someone and you took the place of that person and now the situation is like i can’t able to hold on to something it’s like i am loosing my grip every time i try to do something. i have lost faith in some portions of my life and at the end if i try to look myself into the mirror i find someone else a pale and weak person who was once a damn confident person suggest me something that can help me out from this kind of situation.

    • Rick, Your frustration and upset come through powerfully in your comment. I regret that I don’t have the expertise to suggest a solution for you. My only suggestion is to find a professional counselor who can help you get clarity around your situation and lead you to a better place. Thanks for taking the time to comment. All the best,~Dawn

  26. Hi,

    I had a series of operations and I ended up with complications that left me in severe pain, I was surrounded by a toxic partner and family. I was also very isolated in the country. I was working in a high power sales job and excelled, even when they said I wouldnt be able to. Eventually it got to much for me. I had to sell to get out of there, and now as I havent worked for awhile, I have lost all my confidence, it is like I am paralysed, I dont know how to make a step forward in any direction in my life, I am isolated, due to this loss. I really dont know what to do.

    • Maree,

      There’s no question that you have experienced a confidence sapping series of events. I certainly understand that feeling of paralysis and aloneness. It’s an exhausting place to be.

      We learn a lot about our inner survivor when we feel down. The positives for you are that you know what it feels like to be successful. That means you also understand the transferable skills that are still in your control. The only thing missing is an outlet for putting them back into play. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t worked in a while. It only matters that given the opportunity to work, you know what to do. Skills are one thing but work ethic is another.

      In this low confidence state you’re in, you are in fact working for yourself. Your life is your business. (I’ve written several posts here under that subtitle.) With that image in mind, you need to get back to planning–exploring options, letting others know what kind of work you’re looking for, engaging with others. You may be physically isolated but not out of contact with the world, since you are on the internet. So use that tool to start rebuilding your career.

      Deep down I suspect you know that you can restart. Do your best to silence those negative voices in our head and commit to digging in and moving forward. You know you can! All the best, ~Dawn

      • Dawn,

        Thanks, I will go and read those posts, that you mentioned.I guess one of my fears is the big question about what are you doing now? why havent you been working, I was doing other things, and their fear that I wont be able to work etc. I do have a track record and referees etc, but I still feel I guess a bit nervous, I wonder whether I should even maybe retrain and do a Masters etc in a defined field etc, and I also wonder whether high powered account management / project management is valued. I was in the telecommunications / IT industry so , I can absorb technical information, I just havent done it for awhile I guess. Thank you for taking the time to help me, I really appreciate it :-)

        • Maree,

          So glad my thoughts were useful. I also wrote a number of job search posts too that you might want to check out, everything from the resume to the cover letter to the interview. I’m not a big fan of more degrees since, in the end, you just have more expense and are back trying to pitch yourself again. It sounds like you have lots of past experience to package up and market. If there’s a gap, just address it as “life” and then move on to the value you will and can add. Focus on all that you can do and not what you can’t and you’ll be way ahead of the game. Hang tough, okay. Best, ~Dawn

  27. I hope this works like a charm. I am still a teenager but i don’t have much confidence that i should have. Scared of going to school,Talking boldly and all I get is hate,bullies. I got 4 real friends that i depend on. If this is something that it cannot be reverted. I might just stay at home. If whoever helps me, I want to be you’re friend
    (Sorry for bad english)

    • Marvin,

      I hope the suggestions in the post work for you too. Our teenage years pose all kinds of challenges to building self-confidence. We’ve all struggled in one way or another. So please don’t despair. The fact that you have 4 true friends is a fabulous asset. You can share your struggles and support each other day by day. Nurturing those friendships and taking each difficult circumstance in stride makes the going easier…not easy but easier. Develope your courage by doing things that test you, like going to school faithfully despite the pressures. This is where you work on developing your mental toughness, the importance of your education, and ways to deal with people who aren’t nice to you. Most everything in life is learned through trial and error, and self-confidence is no exception. Believe in yourself and when you feel wobbly, lean on your friends. Thanks for your wonderful comment. All the best, Dawn

  28. I have run a successful business for 30 years. Now I am 65 and dealing with a bad back. I have just about enough money to retire, not that I hate my work..I don’t. But to stay successful requires an all out effort which came easier when I was younger, hungry and in better physical condition. Since I have been getting tired of fighting so hard, I have stopped taking the necessary marketing steps to stay profitable which envolve more work, more risk and well, more of what used to be easy and is not now. I don’t want to create more work because I am trying to get a life.

    So I am kind of going through the motions, kind of in the middle, and watching the income drop and the debts grow. Secretly I was hoping for things to get back to force my decision but not that it is happening, I am feeling lost. I am not sure if I should throw in the towel and go small. It is a major decision to change from years of success to giving in.. Any thoughts? My confidence is not there because my will has changed.

    • Jeff,

      Nothing is more daunting than change after 30 years of success. The good news is that you have acquired a plethora of tested skills and knowledge that you can repackage and rely on for whatever you do next. In some ways your back issues have become the motivator for this transition. It’s a reality that is inescapable. You clearly have a big choice to make, either to end the business or let is decline until it ends itself. Your answer will likely contain insights into whether you want to change careers at the top of your game or not.

      The hard part is, as you have suggested, what’s next. I suspect you have favorite aspects of the business you run, the parts that give you the most satisfaction, demonstrate skills you favor, and/or relationships that uplift you. It will take some time, but you might want to give yourself time and space to deconstruct those factors and consider how to reconstruct them into a next career. You may want to go into consulting/advising/college teaching or work full or part time at a community or industry non-profit. You have built relationships of all kinds so far, so will want to talk to people you respect about your interests going forward. You may very well find that once you’ve made your choice, opportunities will come to you. In many respects, this may not be as much about self-confidence as it is about courage.

      No transition is easy, but they all bring excitement and the potential for essential renewal. All the best, ~Dawn

  29. I was born in a poor family with all my dreams is dead. Since i was young my father was psychotics and violated, everyday there will be hours of quarrels and fight, i suffer through all my life until i fall sick into schizophrenia, depression, bipolar, and even bulimia nervosa which i couldn’t eat for one week. I even get irritated, let down by neighbors like a laughter to them. Until i died during a pastor get a call from god that i am dying. He prayed for me during rush to my home that i am totally very weak. My father regret and cried why he suffered us. I take almost four years to recovered and my dreams being a doctor is gone. When I graduated i was 28 years old, most of the company assume i was problematic when interview due to my age. I only get an operation job and bad things happen with politically superior and attitude to grant benefits for glory from the top level. I work very hard but no appreciation and things not fair always happen like people doesn’t wanted to work and commit, just grant the glory. I give up the job and move to IT line with no experience. My pay is low and the company work load is too hard as i have not enough sleep with on call. I learn and build my skills and move to a big company which is better benefits and no on call. I take my time to learn more external skill like video editing like Final Cut Pro X and sound engineering, drum and piano beginner, photo-shops and tennis skills studies as i had played for 13 years. Recently i went to hypnosis therapy and found out my confident level is 0 out of 1 to 10 level. And how much i put my confident effort to push myself is 9 out of 10. This is why i almost fell down from the sit during the hypnosis asking about my burden. Today i am 32 years old and i just move on without any confident, i only using aggressive and spirit to push myself. Yes is true that i am below average when i see society acquire the things and dreams. I am single and i can’t afford to have a girl friend, no one love me, I eat alone, walk alone in the mall, i even did community job like helping in the old fox home on Sunday. I hate my life but i can’t do any thing, i just move on and see miracles happen, i never experience perfect love. I tried very hard to work and improve. No one appreciate me.

    • John, You have been through so much and still you press on. I admire that, for it tells me that you do have confidence in your ability to overcome serious and often continuous adversity. You have lots of skills and talents made evident by the impressive initiatives you have taken to redirect your career. We all need recognition and validation to feel energized. When we don’t get it, continuing our efforts to make our way is difficult. You are only 32. That may seem old to you but it isn’t. You have experienced more than most, endured very hard times, and I suspect learned a lot about your inner strength. The more energy you can use to interact with others you come in contact with, the more you can focus on the good that has come with the bad and the more you increase opportunities for attracting the positive. Negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive. Ultimately what you are seeking is also seeking you. It’s a matter of continuing to move forward and being patient. Good luck. Thanks for writing, ~Dawn

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