Sarah Denholm Blog

9 Things I Wish I'd Known about Confidence when I was Younger

Sep 24, 2020

As you may know by now, I’ve really struggled with low self-confidence at certain times in my life.

A real low point was when I suffered severely from the skin condition eczema as a student and then again in my 30s.

As a student I had to be hospitalised twice, and at one point my whole body was covered in eczema. 

In today's post, I'm going to offer you 9 things I wish I’d known about confidence when I was younger, as I was mired in misery and self-pity because of my skin.

That sort of physical and emotional discomfort can make you SO self-absorbed, and I was certainly that, big-time!

I hope that some of these ideas may help you to see something in your world differently if you also suffer from low confidence.

1. Self-talk.

My endless and negative self-talk was simply trying to keep me safe; trying to protect me from going out into the world or doing anything new in case I was mocked or humiliated – particularly about my appearance.

My greatest solution:...

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Beginner's Guide to Building Confidence in a New Area

Sep 04, 2020

A beginners guide to building confidence in a new area.

Practice, belief and ability: how do they work to help you?

We all know the uncertainty and challenges which can kick in when we try something new. I bet if you think for a moment, something you’ve attempted in the past few years will come up for you.

It can be scary to try something different, can’t it? Our sense of self can take a knock as we’re pushed off-centre. Negative self-talk usually kicks in at times.

And we can be afraid that our ‘social mask’ (what we wear to get through the day at work or socially, to conform to other people’s expectations) is stripped away. This leaves us vulnerable and exposed.

As a presentation skills coach and trainer, I’m a big believer in regularly putting myself in this position, of trying something new. Even though I still vividly remember how it felt to struggle with public speaking, it’s still good to test myself.

If I didn’t do this,...

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12 Truths about Confidence and Growth

Aug 25, 2020

12 Truths about Confidence and Growth

Living with low self-confidence while trying to navigate the world successfully brings up vulnerability and challenges for so many of my clients - and I've had my struggles too.

From my own ideas, plus recent conversations with clients and friends about what confidence and growth mean to them, I’ve put together some key thoughts about confidence and growth. Hopefully they're useful to you.

12 truths about confidence and growth:

1. Action. It’s ultimately much harder and more draining to stay frozen and immobilised by fear of what might happen, or what others think, than it is to push through discomfort to growth on the other side.

It’s remembering that reaching out and acting on what we want can be well worth the risk. That in fact we can thrive when we take that risk. 

2. Belief - or not? You don’t have to believe in yourself when you start out on a new path..or even if you need to reset and start down that same...

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My Struggles with Low Confidence, and 4 Things that Helped

Aug 25, 2020

My struggles with low self-confidence, and what helped

I've had times in my life where low confidence has been a big issue. It's held me back from achieving  - or even attempting - goals that I really wanted. 

This can make me sad - and so I don't look back very often. When I do review situations where I gave up too soon, or didn't even start, one way for me to see them is with inner kindness and compassion for the fragile younger Sarah who held herself back.

To try and give myself a mental hug of reassurance. 

The best way I've found to deal with past memories is also to remind myself that those times weren't totally  wasted: they've allowed me to have greater empathy and understanding for other people.

And they've given me many of the tools which I use today in my coaching work as well as for myself.

Today I'm going to give you four 'lenses' through which to look at your own confidence challenges. My goal is to help you gain a fresh perspective and ideas...

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Confident or Arrogant? 8 Ways to Tell the Difference

Aug 22, 2020

 Confident or Arrogant? 8 Ways to Tell the Difference in Yourself and Others

When we’re confident we have an innate feeling of self-worth (internal), leading us to expect positive outcomes (external).

And if we’re arrogant: we refuse to study or learn from ourselves, other people or our surroundings.

Arrogant people feel unworthy, and try to mask it with layers of careful varnish. For them it’s about impressing others, because they’ve failed to impress themselves. (They may be pushing down this failure, but oh, it’s lurking underneath—every arrogant person feels fundamentally insecure and tries to compensate.)

So if arrogance is all about impressing others, confidence is about impressing ourselves—in the sense that we’re comfortable in who we are. We’re proud of ourselves and our accomplishments, and are willing to own them.

These are my definitions of both. They come from working with clients over many years on...

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How to Stay Confident When Faced with the Comparison Trap

Aug 03, 2020


How do we maintain our confidence when faced with the comparison trap?

When we look at other people - particularly colleagues or our competition - who appear to be highly confident and doing really well, and we’re feeling fragile or does that go?

1. We’re wired to compare ourselves to others

We’re wired for comparison: especially when we’re feeling insecure, which just makes it harder to deal with.

In general, we compare for two main reasons, one positive, the other less so. We’re trying to:

  1. Understand ourselves better - to learn something new and grow
  2. Feel better about ourselves by hoping that the person we’re comparing ourselves to is lower or “less” than us — to protect or enhance our self-esteem

This concept is called social comparison theory and it was originally explored in depth by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. Festinger's main idea was that humans are driven to...

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