Start Losing Control

interview self confidenceControl is an interesting concept that affects our self confidence. If we don’t feel in control of a situation, for whatever reason, it is likely that our anxiety levels will increase.

The lack of control doesn’t have to be real. We can conjure up in our imagination all sorts of scenarios where a future situation may go wrong. If you are due to give a speech you may imagine “drying up”, stumbling over words, people not laughing at your jokes, people being upset at what you have said.

Lack of Control

In my opening post I suggest that we have to accept this lack of control. To build self confidence in an uncertain world, with variables out of our control, its more useful to deal with the anxiety than fight a futile battle to gain control.

Feeling anxious, stressed, and at the mercy of others is bound to affect our confidence in our ability to perform the task required. And confidence is selective – whilst lacking confidence about giving a speech you may be very confident in other areas, such as talking with friends in any small groups or individually.

A top sportsman may be supremely confident when performing in front of thousands in a stadium, but lack confidence when required to talk about the event afterwards. Unfortunately, like anything with anxiety at its core, it can spread if doubts regarding one scenario start creeping into others.

The Interview

An interesting way to reflect on this is to look at going for a job interview.  If its a job you really want, and feel you are qualified to be offered, then you can:-

Undermine Your Confidence

…. by thinking “what ifs” before hand:-

what if I can’t answer a simple question

what if I answer wrong

what if I sweat too much

what if they don’t like me…

or “some-things bound to go wrong or I’ll mess up”

Boost Your Confidence

You can prepare well and boost your confidence:-

ensure you are well groomed

prepare answers to likely questions

rehearse an interview with a friend or colleague

prepare questions to ask the interviewers

talk yourself up, rather than down

Optimistic or Pessimistic

On the latter point, reflecting on the last post I wrote on optimism, it does reinforce that being optimistic helps rather than pessimism. Being optimistic does put you in a better frame of mind, which will be reflected in your body language. This is far removed from believing by thinking positive the job is as good as yours!

By being optimistic you do set yourself up for feeling really down if you are unsuccessful. But however well you prepare for an interview there are things you have no control over:-

the other candidates

the questions that are asked

any hidden agendas

In life  the opposite of being in control isn’t so much being out of control but learning to live with uncertainty.  I would argue this is essential in the modern world, where so much we cannot control. But rather than fear this or run away from it, learn to relish it. See it as part of being alive – how boring life would be otherwise!

Anyone for Tennis?

Since I started to write this post we have suffered the highs and lows of following Andy Murray trying to win the Australian Open.  He probably did everything correct physically, mentally and any other way to prepare for the final against Roger Federer.

Unfortunately for Andy, he cannot do anything to “control” Federer.  Had a lack lustre Federer turned up, Andy Murray may well have won. But the bottom line is, however confident, however mentally prepared, you cannot beat someone who has more talent!

photo by metaphox on Flickr

Bruce "the Mid-Life Mentor" February 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm

This is excellent expert advice! The mental game is all important. Sometimes the talented guy can over think it and the less talented team or individual with “nothing to lose” will emerge with the victory. That has something to do with setting your performance expectation too high doesn’t it? Then things beyond your control rattle you. The people who concentrate on finding a way rather than trying to live up to their own expectations are better at doing well in an uncontrolled situation. Well written as usual.
.-= Bruce “the Mid-Life Mentor”´s last blog ..Anne Vaillancourt – How to keep your health throughout Menopause =-.

David February 8, 2010 at 12:07 am

Thanks Bruce for another angle on this; thinking too deeply doesn’t always help!

Debbie February 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Self-Confidence is very important, but at the same time we have to know that we too always have the option to learn things from others. Now if you are intimitdated by others at times, I have found that you just picture them in there underwear. This way there is NO WAY they can intimitdate you. Just a little trick of mine.

.-= Debbie´s last blog ..How To Improve Your Happiness Within The Easy Way! =-.

David February 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Yes Debbie, that would work – or sitting on the toilet! just don’t start laughing.

Debbie February 12, 2010 at 1:21 am


Sitting on the toilet!!!!!!! Now that is real good. Yes, I am laughing. Laughing is good so i thank you. I needed my laugh today. thanks for being there for me.

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