We are women who want to lead happy and productive lives. That includes being positive, strong and powerful. We all know knowledge is power. Yet it can sometimes feel overwhelming to keep up in today’s fast-moving world.

Have you ever thought, “If only I’d known”? Do you lack confidence because you are not used to doing things on your own?

We all feel that way sometimes. Knowledge can make all the difference when it comes to success in small endeavors – or large ones. What can we do to build knowledge and confidence while becoming more independent?

One way is to become better informed on topics outside our comfort zone. We can’t know everything, but we can do some things that will help us present ourselves with confidence in new situations. Let’s look at some ways to become more in-the-know and in-control during difficult situations.

Take a Course

Local community or vocational colleges often have classes on life skills where you can learn money management skills, job interview skills, time management and negotiating skills. You could even take a driving class.

Ask a Friend

If you only need simple suggestions or guidance, ask a female friend or relative to show you how they do things. The key here is to make it clear you are asking for help, not asking for them to do it for you.

They will understand that you are not expecting them to take the responsibility, and you will feel better knowing that soon you will be managing on your own.

Practice

Do you feel uncomfortable dealing with service or sales people? When this happens to me, I like to practice in the mirror.

Be Informed

Know the going price for the item or service you need. Do your research before making a major purchase. Learn the key vocabulary, so you can speak in their own terminology.

Make a list of specific features or results you expect. Don’t be afraid to ask for details. If you ask intelligent questions, they will know you understand the product or service and will be more likely to deal fairly with you.

Build Rapport

You don’t have to be an expert. Think about what you already know. In my case, my father was a mechanic. I spent a lot of time watching him work and listening to him talk with friends about cars.

I can’t fix a car myself, but I get good service on my cars because I know how to talk to them. It’s all about good communication!

Don’t Give Up

Do you feel blocked about certain subjects? Although I was a good student, I always felt inadequate about my math skills. Once in teacher training, I decided I needed to get over that fear.

I went to the math department at my local community college, hoping to find a review course. There was nothing like that. They wanted me to start over from the beginning.

But I didn’t give up. I searched the course catalog and found that there was a review course in the engineering department. I had to get permission to take the course, since I wasn’t in the engineering program, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I went to see the professor, who turned out to be a very nice man. He said his course was exactly what I was looking for.

He told me his students were very motivated to take engineering classes, yet often lacked confidence in their math skills because they struggled with math in high school or because they had not used their math in a while.

Grab the Bonus

You never know what hidden bonuses you will get for your efforts. Here’s a quote I love from my math professor: “If you can add, subtract, multiply and divide, you can do this. Everything else is just order of operation.”

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Not only did I build confidence, I also learned how it felt to be the only woman in a large group of men. That math course included 20 men and one woman – me!

It felt quite uncomfortable at times, but the professor included me in all the Q&A sessions. He said it actually helped other students who lacked confidence because they would feel that if I could do it, they could, too. So, maybe I even helped encourage other students!

The moral to this story is, “Put yourself out there. Be in the know! Build your confidence!” Feeling uncomfortable is all part of learning. With each new challenge you face and succeed, you will build more.

What techniques do you use to stay in control of difficult situations? Have there been times in your life when you felt uncomfortable and lacking in confidence but carried on and reached a good outcome? Please share your confidence stories below.

Joy HarmonJoy Harmon is a former theatrical costumer, teacher and longtime traveler. She currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she is active in the local English speaking theater. She is pursuing a new career in writing – please check out her first novel.

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