As someone who prides herself on being a walking contradiction at times, it’s no wonder that my husband has labeled me as “the most confident, un-confident” person he knows. I responded to the caricature of me with laughter as the declaration was spot on. Through my study of the Enneagram of Personality, which is a system that explains the “why” of how we think, act, and feel, I uncovered ways I could overcome this paradox inside of me.

The Enneagram is a useful tool for deeper self-awareness.

In essence, when you allow your authentic self to shine through, confidence follows and becomes apparent to anyone interacting with you. This confidence radiates an energy of “knowing” to those around you. In turn, you feel empowered to give of yourself. Moreover, you’re able to celebrate other people’s contributions and successes, without expecting anything in return.

This is about self-knowing and respect, not self-promotion.

Moreover, it’s about pivoting your mindset to realize and recognize how YOU – like everyone else – make a difference and significant impact no matter what the size of your contribution. This understanding allows you to walk into a room – a friendly or an uncomfortable one – and own your space.

As an Enneagram Type Two, I have an inherent “need to be needed” and desire for “flattery.” I’m basically teetering between a compulsion for connection while trying to validate myself with others. This habitual pattern kept recurring, where I was simultaneously confident and unsure. Now, I recognize my triggers, and can acknowledge and stop it when it starts creeping back in. By doing this, I am able to set boundaries and speak up with conviction and compassion. I no longer need praise to know when I’ve provided my best.

Let’s be realistic; it’s hard not to get wrapped up in other people’s perspectives of us because of how often we’re given feedback by managers and co-workers, friends, and family members. It’s become standard to rate someone’s performance. For example, I receive automatic surveys after any interaction with a retail experience. These ratings can be beneficial to learning our blind spots and areas of development when taken with the proper attitude. However, it can be detrimental to our psyche and capabilities when we live only for that outside endorsement or perspective. We face this reality every day through social media.

Don’t give your power away.

That is essentially what you’re doing when you are losing confidence in yourself and seeking external validation. You are handing your power to someone else. By cultivating awareness, you can identify your triggers and free yourself from behaviors that don’t serve you well.

Here are five tips you can put into practice for increasing your confidence in an authentic manner:

1. Become self-aware.

Your past doesn’t define you. Self-awareness helps you overcome and relinquish any harboring, negative beliefs you may be carrying with you. There are many assessments available to help you become self-aware. My preferred ones are the ones where you self-declare your best-fit types, such as the MBTI® and Enneagram. The good news is becoming self-aware and mindful is in YOUR control. All you have to do is want it and commit to it. Here are five tips to help you get started.

2. Be an impartial observer.

View feedback as objective data that can support your growth and development. Remember that feedback doesn’t define who you are; it’s only based on people’s observations and experiences with you. Take a witness stance and learn to respond to criticism with “Thank you for sharing. You’ve given me something to think about.” Then assess and determine how best to move forward for the outcome you’re looking to achieve. It’s also okay to reflect and decide that you will not change anything.

3. Trust yourself.

What you communicate and how you behave sets the tone. Set aside a few minutes to inventory the many times you’ve made a difference. Write down these proof points and commit them to memory so you can retrieve them if you forget how mighty you are. Remind yourself daily how talented, proficient, and skilled you are; and use your inner guru to be helpful to others, recognizing and appreciating what they have to offer. You’ll become a magnetic force that shines bright in a humble and confident manner.

4. Take back your control.

Be alert and recognize when you’re about to acquiesce into any uncomfortable situation. Take time to breathe and pause so you can shift your mindset and center yourself. If told something unpleasant, acknowledge that you heard what was shared, and then move on. Take back your control by not reacting.

5. Learn to honor yourself.

I’ve heard countless stories from accomplished men and women who are uncomfortable with touting their success. Reasons can span from family dynamics to fear of bragging or flaunting. However, it’s all about your approach and being authentic to your true nature. Know that by sharing your knowledge, expertise, and examples in a humble manner, you can help empower others to do the same.

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