As musicians, you have the gift of sensitivity which fuels your creativity and enables you to transmit powerful emotions. It can also make you more vulnerable to setbacks and criticism. These are completely unavoidable and an integral part of the journey. Indeed, few industries are as competitive and unstable as music. So how can you overcome self-doubts and feelings of insecurity in the face of challenges?
Confidence is a very necessary skill to have if you want to succeed in this industry, but it’s a skill that you can learn and develop.
Here are a few ways you can increase your self-confidence so you can get out of your comfort zone, approach people you want to work with, and avoid feeling sick to your stomach before you have to step on stage.
Own your qualities and achievements
If you’re like most people, you’ll rarely take time to reflect on your existing achievements, instead always moving on to the next thing. Being aware of and owning your strengths and qualities is essential to building confidence. Think of three past achievements, big or small, that you’re proud of and identify why they make you feel proud. What underlying qualities of yours do these accomplishments represent? For example, if you’ve taught yourself to play a new instrument, that demonstrates versatility, creativity, and shows you’re self-motivated. All of these are essential qualities which will help you as you progress in your musical career.
Stop caring about what others think
Easier said than done, I know, but let’s think about it for a minute. There are 7.5 billion people on Earth and there’s absolutely no way you’re gonna be able to please everyone, right? If you create and expose yourself, you will get criticized. In fact, you’re probably criticizing and judging others too. Let’s say you don’t dig heavy metal. Does that mean all metal bands are fundamentally bad? No, it means you don’t like heavy metal, period. Letting go of other people’s opinions will free you from constantly second-guessing yourself or worrying unnecessarily. Remember that what others think of you has more to do with them than it has to do with you.
Turn your negative self-talk into something more empowering
Notice how you speak to yourself, especially when you struggle or face disappointments. Imagine a show where you didn’t perform at your best. Are you berating yourself, saying things internally that you would never say to your best friend? Being hard on yourself is not the best way to progress. Instead, acknowledge your disappointment, see what you can learn from the situation, and figure out how you can best move forward. Create a positive affirmation using words that work for you. For instance, saying something like ‘every show is an opportunity to learn. I’m going to [something you’ll do differently] next time, as I continue to improve.’ Doesn’t that feel a lot better?
Keep a praise file
This is a tip I give to all my clients and use myself. Keep a note of positive reviews, fan love, or any words of gratitude and encouragement coming your way. Nice words from your grandmother count too! You can keep a digital file for easy access, and look at it whenever you need a boost of confidence. This will help you remain positive when the going gets tough. Although true confidence comes from the inside, external validation can be handy in challenging moments, and we all need those pats on the back sometimes.
Stop comparing yourself to other musicians
This is a big one. Social media makes it very easy for you to compare and despair. Don’t fall into that trap! As you probably already know, what’s shown on social media is never the whole truth; followers and likes can (and are) bought, successes are flaunted, and few people actually share how they’re really feeling. Additionally, don’t forget that everyone’s on their own, unique journey. Everyone has a specific combination of talent, past experiences, skills, connections, and drive. You have no idea what others may have sacrificed to have gotten where they are today. Comparing yourself to others will not only make you feel more insecure, it will also rob you of your precious time and energy. So stay focused on your own progress instead.
When you implement these tips, you’ll increase your self-confidence and it will be easier to overcome your fears and doubts. Like they say, ‘No one will believe in you unless you do.’ So keep on believing in yourself – because the world needs you, your voice, and your music!
Ariane Paras is a life coach at Olympian Coaching. She empower artists to thrive in their lives and careers and shares her exclusive tips here.