3 ways to rebuild your confidence after a setback

The effect of a relationship not working out, a job not turning out to be what you thought it would be or the success you have worked so hard to achieve suddenly disappear in the blink of an eye can be a bitter pill to swallow.

In a previous post, Dust yourself off and try again, I talked about the positives that can arise from trying but not succeeding.  Rationally we know that every cloud has a silver lining or that ever disappointment is to prepare us for the next phase of growth in our lives.  However that doesn’t mean the blow to our confidence and self esteem when we fail at something, should be overlooked.

You are worthy

Self-esteem is an evaluation of our worthiness, a judgment that we are good and valuable as individuals.

Failure can affect our feelings of self worth and can allow negative thoughts to overshadow and impact our self confidence.

‘I’m not good enough to do this job’.

‘I’m not worthy of being loved the way I want to be loved.’

‘I’m not ready to apply for that promotion.’

‘Better the devil you know, so I’ll just stay where I am as this is the best I can get.’

‘I won’t be able to find a better job.’

‘I never should have thought I could start up my own business and make it a success.  What was I thinking?’

‘Will I be able to find someone who cares about me as much as I care about them?’

‘What will people say when they realise I have failed?’

‘I look like a fool…’

Do any of these sound familiar?

We have all experienced them at some point, however, the ability to protect our self esteem and confidence so that we can rise above setbacks can be developed like any skill – here are 3 ways you can do so.

 1)  How well do you know you?

What do your close friends, family or colleagues say are your most admirable characteristics?  Don’t know?  Well maybe it’s time to ask them.

Understanding what you are great at (and not so great at) is vital for your career but also to help you overcome setbacks – professional and personal.

If you cannot articulate your greatest strengths then you are missing out at having opportunities to do what you do best – in and outside of work.

In a previous post, I shared some free online tests to help you find your greatest strengths.  It might be worth revisiting them in case you need a refresh – Go Get Em’ – My Top 5 Interview Tips.

Don’t forget that these tests do not distinguish between you at work and you at home.  What you are great at is what you are great at.  It doesn’t always have to be in the context of your job.  It’s about recognising what makes you amazing so that you can live your life to the fullest.

2) Take a step back and look at the situation through a different lens

Gaining some perspective on what has happened will enable you to move forward and not be defined by your setback.

In the last few years I have applied the principles of gratitude to helping me overcome challenging situations.  I took this methodology for want of a better word from Rhonda Byrne, who wrote the bestsellers the Secret, the Power and the Magic.  There is a part at the end of one of her books when she asks the readers to think about their greatest disappointment or setback.  You then had to write 10 separate reasons why you were grateful this setback happened.  Easier said than done I know but I have found it a really useful way to gain some perspective.

My biggest advice for anyone who wants to give this a go – don’t stop until you get to your 10 reasons.  Dig deep and you will get to that 10th reason I promise you.

3) Fix your mind

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve,” Debbie Millman

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset – the new psychology of success talks about individuals who have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability cannot change in a meaningful way and striving for success via perfection (ie minimising opportunities to fail) is how we can succeed in life.

Those with a ‘growth mindset’ can get their energy from challenging situations and see failure as an opportunity for growth and stretching existing abilities.  Dependent on which mindset you occupy, this will have a profound impact on your relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal situations.  Ultimately it affects our happiness.


Our ability to avoid being defined by our failures takes practice and hinges on adopting the right mindset.

Those people that you see always picking themselves up after a disappointment, who seem to remain positive even in the face of tremendous pressure and adversity, will have a growth mindset I can guarantee you.  What we may perceive as ‘they are always landing on their feet’ is not luck at play.  It’s hard work, tenacity and determination. Plus the refusal to allow a setback to define who they are.

If they can do it, so can you.




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