4 Steps to Reframing Confidence in Scary Situations

reframing confidence: metaphor of rose tinted glasses

A core component of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the technique of reframing, which essentially means changing your perspective towards a particular situation to feel and behave more constructively.

Reframing confidence is not about deceiving yourself or ignoring problems; it’s about choosing to view situations in a light that can empower and motivate. When applied correctly, reframing can become an active process to bolster confidence, especially in situations where it might typically wane.

I’ve devised a four step process for reframing any situation that arises where you may find your confidence is less than you would like. It’s a habit you can develop which will become easier over time, and may even become automatic. Initially it may be helpful to write things down as you progress through the activity, but you will hopefully reach a point where you can internalise it.

The outcome will be to gradually enhance your confidence and improve your ability to cope with difficult situations.

A Process for Reframing Confidence

  1. What is the situation. Give a brief description of the activity or incident that causes you to feel less confident.
  2. What feelings are you experience? What are you afraid of? What are you avoiding or what state are you in?
  3. Reframe the situation. More about this in other articles, but think about what else this could mean, other than what you are thinking. When reframing confidence, ask yourself, in what context could this be perceived better? What might a more confident person think or feel?
  4. What action can you take now, to help you feel better? Taking a positive action towards the event or situation can help you feel better.

Below I have listed 10 familiar examples of this reframing confidence technique, so that you can see how this works.

Situation #1: Presenting at a work meeting.

  1. Situation: It’s my turn to present our progress report to the team. I haven’t done this before. What if I make a fool of myself.
  2. Feelings: Fear of judgement, nervousness.
  3. Reframe: “Every presentation is an opportunity to learn and improve. If I make a mistake, it’s not a failure but a lesson for next time.”
  4. Action: Practice the presentation with a trusted colleague and ask for constructive feedback.

Situation #2: Trying out for a sports team.

  1. Situation: I really want to get in the hockey team this year. I’m usually okay, but sometimes I make the wrong decisions and I’m not as fast as others.
  2. Feelings: Fear of rejection, self-doubt.
  3. Reframe: “Whether I make the team or not, I’m pushing my limits and growing as an athlete.”
  4. Action: Join a community sports group or practice sessions to further hone skills.

Situation #3: Starting a new job.

  1. Situation: This job is a bit more than I am used to. I’ve been doing similar things but I don’t have a qualification and I haven’t been to university.
  2. Feelings: Uncertainty, imposter syndrome.
  3. Reframe: “Everyone starts somewhere. This is my chance to learn, adapt, and show what I can bring to the organisation.”
  4. Action: Schedule a meeting with a mentor or supervisor to discuss expectations and gather resources.

Situation #4: Asking someone out on a date.

  1. Situation: I really like this person. It would be nice to go out with them but what if they don’t like me? What if they laugh. What if I blush, or get tongue-tied.
  2. Feelings: Fear of rejection, vulnerability.
  3. Reframe: “Regardless of the outcome, I’m showing courage by expressing my feelings and being genuine.”
  4. Action: Attend social gatherings or hobby classes to meet new people and improve interpersonal skills.

Situation #5: Taking a challenging exam.

  1. Situation: I’ve got my final exam coming up this week. I don’t know if I’m good enough yet. I’ve been revising but it doesn’t feel like it’s going in.
  2. Feelings: Fear of failure, anxiety.
  3. Reframe: “This exam is a measure of my knowledge at this moment, not my overall worth or intelligence.”
  4. Action: Form a study group or seek tutoring to prepare.

Situation #6: Sharing a personal story or artwork.

  1. Situation: I want to enter my painting into the exhibition, but what if it’s not good enough? What if someone criticised it. I don’t know what people will think.
  2. Feelings: Fear of criticism, vulnerability.
  3. Reframe: “By sharing, I’m expressing a part of who I am. It’s an act of bravery and authenticity.”
  4. Action: Join a local club or online community related to your interest to share and receive feedback regularly.

Situation #7: Starting a new hobby or class.

  1. Situation: I’d really like to join that Spanish course, but I’m no good at languages and I don’t know much Spanish. It’ll be hard to talk to other people in a new language.
  2. Feelings: Feeling out of place, inexperienced.
  3. Reframe: “Every expert was once a beginner. This is my first step towards mastery.”
  4. Action: Dedicate set hours weekly to practice and improve.

Situation #8: Facing financial difficulties.

  1. Situation: I’m going into more an more debt. I’m at my wits end and people are noticing I’m not spending like I used to.
  2. Feelings: Shame, stress.
  3. Reframe: “Challenges like this teach me resilience and resourcefulness. I’ll find a way through this.”
  4. Action: Seek financial counseling or workshops to create a plan.

Situation #9: Receiving feedback or criticism.

  1. Situation: My boss wants to talk to me. It’s about my last month’s sales figures. I know I wasn’t up to speed. I need to be better at talking to new leads.
  2. Feelings: Defensiveness, hurt.
  3. Reframe: “Feedback is a tool for growth. It’s an opportunity to see where I can improve.”
  4. Action: Actively request feedback after tasks and use it to create a personal development plan.

Situation #10: Comparing yourself to others.

  1. Situation: John is better than me. He has a better job, with more money. He has loads of friends and plays Tennis really well.
  2. Feelings: Jealousy, inadequacy.
  3. Reframe: “Everyone is on their own unique journey. Instead of comparing, I’ll focus on my own progress and growth.”
  4. Action: Maintain a journal to track personal achievements and growth milestones.

This technique for reframing confidence, combined with actions, can help individuals move past their initial feelings and towards more constructive behavior.

In the journey of relieving anxiety and confidence-building, reframing confidence stands out as a powerful tool. By actively seeking a shift in perspective and pairing that with actionable steps, individuals can move past apprehensions and towards a more empowered, confident version of themselves. Remember, it’s not the situations we encounter, but our perception of them, that determines our reality. Reframe, act, and watch confidence bloom.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.