Be Sure to Be Confident

“Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.” – Robert Collier

I’m always interested when a client tells me they have no self-confidence. I usually ask them how they will know once they have got it – what will be different if they wake up tomorrow brimming with it. Self-confidence could be thought of as having a strong belief in our ability to cope with whatever challenges life throws at us. Perhaps others perceive our self-confidence as particular qualities in us such as enthusiasm, emotional resilience, optimism, independence and the ability to accept criticism and make mistakes, and maybe we are aware of some of those characteristics in ourselves.

Confidence is obviously learned, but it can also be eroded quickly once you have it. A lack of self-confidence may just mean that we haven’t yet found those all important feelings of success, purpose and meaning which come from being stretched. Of course, being over-stretched may lead us to continually fail, thus reinforcing our self-confidence deficit, but not being stretched will always leave us short of that vital feeling of success and achievement. We could perhaps wonder why we don’t feel we have self-confidence. Was it never built in the first place due to people around us who continually criticised us and made us feel bad about ourselves, or maybe we had oodles of it, but then it got eroded by a partner who speaks in very negative ways to us. Or perhaps we suffered an unforeseen change in life’s circumstances. Whatever the reason, it is quite possible to build or rebuild our self-confidence.

Those of us with self-confidence have great faith in our future, and we also have a good sense of having control over a good proportion of our lives. Importantly, we have a realistic picture of our limitations and we can accept those realities with good grace. Hubris, or arrogant over estimation of ability, is equally dangerous, so self-confidence needs to be tempered by a degree of humility and the ability to honestly reflect on mistakes and shortcomings without feeling emotionally damaged.

The most useful question, of course, is how we can lift our self-confidence, and to have the confidence that it can be lifted. There are many, many simple things which can help, but I always like to start with helping somebody develop a confident walk. Have you noticed Dirty Harry always walks as though he is about to arrest the bad guy? Stepping out a little more quickly and confidently tells the world that you are feeling self-confident, and this serves to open new neural pathways which will reinforce that message. Also, your posture will tell the world, including you, exactly how you feel, and your slow, clear speech patterns will speak volumes in establishing how sure you are. Try changing just one small thing in your life; a habit that you’ve been meaning to break for a while. Just do it, and see how good you feel after a few days. You could also try getting your first acting award, and make up your mind that you are going to ‘act’ as though your are self-confident. After a week of acting, just see how much of that pretence has rubbed off on you. You may be surprised.

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