What is confidence? Let's get right down to the nitty gritty of it. We're going to talk about what confidence is, and possibly more importantly, what it isn't. We'll also address some common misconceptions about confidence and explore our own personal relationship with it. So let's dive in.
The definition of confidence is:
A feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
Let's use it in a sentence:
Hazel was confident that she would win the tennis match.
So why was Hazel confident that she would win the match? Did she have some kind of psychic powers that told her so? Possibly, but most likely not. I would guess that she had won lots of matches before. I would surmise that she has trained for many hours to gain the skills that she needs in order to win a tennis match.
Now if the sentence was: Hazel is a confident person, that would be very different. That would mean that in general, and in most situations, Hazel is confident in her abilities. While it's true that some tend to have a generally higher level of confidence than others, it is a myth that you either have it or you don't.
Important Takeaway #1 - Confidence can ABSOLUTELY be learned.
It is not whether you either have it or you don't.
It is not inherent.
The second part of that is that while everybody might have a certain base confidence level, people have different levels of confidence for different things. Even a seemingly very confident person most likely has something that they don't feel confident about. On the flip side of that, somebody who generally has a very low confidence level probably has something that they feel confident about.
Takeaway #2 - Confidence varies depending on the situation.
Confidence is a Mindset.
Confidence is a habit.
One really cool thing about the mindset piece is that you can use the confidence that you have around one skill, or even a memory of being confident at one point in your life, and apply that to whatever situation you are in now.
You can almost trick yourself into being confident while doing something that you really aren't confident about. You can access the memory of a time when you felt very self-assured when you are about to do something that you are not comfortable doing.
For example, you might be really confident about writing. You have done a lot of writing in your life, people always compliment your writing, and you know that you can produce valuable or interesting content.
But if asked to speak in front of a crowd, well, that's a whole different ball game. You might get sweaty palms or start breathing faster just thinking about getting up in front of those people.
So is that just the way it is and you should settle for just always staying in your lane?
Of course not!
Unfortunately many of us do, and as time goes by, it gets harder and harder to get out of that lane.
Confidence = The decision to try.
Self-Doubt = The decision not to try.
Fact #1 - You do not have much experience with public speaking.
Fact #2 - The thought of it stresses you out.
Fact #3 - You experience physical symptoms that show your level of discomfort.
This is plain and simply where it stands at the moment. This is the way it is...now.
This does not have to be the way it always is.
What we can gather here is that lack of experience with something = a low confidence level around that thing.
What can we do if we want to raise our confidence level with regards to that specific thing?
We do that thing!
We acknowledge the fact that we are uncomfortable with it.
We acknowledge the sweaty palms, the fast shallow breathing, and the lump in our throat.
We acknowledge that, and we do it anyway.
And as you go up there, you can access the memory of how it felt to be a successful writer. Armed with that memory, you walk boldly onto the stage.
Once we survive the first time, we do it again.
Until public speaking is no longer in the category of things we lack confidence in.
And then you move on to the next thing.
Don't worry, we'll get into how later.
For now just know that it's possible.
I want to drill down even further.
Confidence is a belief.
A belief is a story we tell ourselves to define our sense of reality.
Believing it does not make it true.
My first question to you is: What do you believe?
What story are you telling yourself around confidence?
What are you telling yourself about your abilities?
What do you think and tell yourself when something comes up that makes you uncomfortable?
Some common phrases that we might say to ourselves are:
I could never do that.
That makes me really uncomfortable.
People might laugh at me.
What if I fail?
The thoughts pop into our heads so quickly.
We have ourselves trained one way or the other in terms of how we will react to new situations.
If this is your belief system, it is time to change the system.
The thoughts bubble up so quickly it feels like you have no control over them. The emotions follow closely behind, and you're immediately triggered whether it's stress, anxiety, fear, or even anger.
Don't expect those thoughts and emotions to stop.
Having them makes you human.
Don't take those thoughts and feelings as permission not to try.
I don't want to hear,
"I can't, I'm too nervous."
"I can't, I'm too scared."
Everybody feels that.
The difference is what you do about it.
The difference is what action you take after having the thoughts and feelings.
Confidence = The decision to try
Self Doubt = The decision not to try
Which cycle would you prefer to live in?
The thoughts and emotions are inevitable.
They will happen.
Don't think that you are different, that you can't because you have them.
Allow them to happen.
Welcome them even.
Listen to what they are telling you.
And then move forward.
There are two ways to go:
1. The cycle of Self-Doubt means that you listen to your thoughts and surrender.
You do nothing and slip even farther into self doubt.
2. The confidence cycle means that you ignore your fears. And you DO anyway. Once you DO once, you will gain more confidence because now you have experience.
The first action step to implement is to start paying attention to the stories that you are telling yourself. In general, what are you saying to yourself about yourself, the people around you, the world.
What are you saying specifically when it is time to do something?
Especially those things that trigger you.
You know what they are:
Walking up to a group of people in a social setting - what do you say to yourself when considering whether you should or not.
Before a job interview - what are you saying to yourself?
Getting ready for a presentation at work-- what thoughts are going through your head?
Start paying attention to what it is that you believe about yourself and your abilities.
Ideally, you can grab a journal and write them down.
Take 3-5 minutes in the beginning or at the end of the day and dump it all out on paper.
Have the journal out on the table, and jot down a thought when it happens.
This is the beginning of the journey for you to become more confident.
As in any journey, you must know where you are in order to get where you want to go.
Let's get specific about what we believe now, so that we can figure out how to reprogram ourselves to believe fully in ourselves and our abilities.
Confidence is at the root of everything.
It is the one thing that if you have it, you can have anything else you want.
It will get you anywhere and everywhere.
Having confidence is proven to:
How amazing is that? Just fine tuning this one thing, your confidence level, will give you all of those benefits! And what will those benefits get you? Well, absolutely anything you want!
Somebody with strong drive and motivation, who takes smart risks and regularly steps outside of the comfort zone with no fear...well, you tell me one thing they CAN'T do!
That kind of person has their dream job or company.
That kind of person has healthy and strong relationships.
That kind of person has financial freedom.
That kind of person makes a strong impact on their community.
What else do you want? That kind of person has it.
That kind of person is you.
Explore this and many more ways to overcome your limiting beliefs, build your confidence habit, turn your dreams into a plan, and start living a life you love in my course From Stuck to Success.
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