A trait that takes you places, the most important thing about confidence is that it is more a state of mind than a skill that you can develop. However, this does not mean that you cannot develop confidence as a trait because you can learn to think about yourself in a certain way.
Another great thing about confidence is that those who are self-confident do not suffer from self-doubt and fear. They do not know that they cannot do it. This very aspect and way of thinking makes them try things and try them again. Even when things go wrong, they do not blame themselves or assume that it is their inability to do the task. It is always something else that went wrong. Surely, things can be done differently, and one can try again!
The ability to try and try again without feeling forlorn is the one thing that matters most in life. Bad things and good things happen to everyone at some point in life. And even though the grass may seem greener in some meadows all the time from where you stand, it is, however, not the case. Every once in a while, each and every one of us faces issues and dry patches. Those that have confidence work towards greener pastures, no matter what!
Building Self Confidence
As mentioned earlier, confidence is a state of mind. It is also not all pervasive. So, while you may have confidence in your skills as a manager, you may have very little confidence in your ability to cook or tend to the garden. There are, however, some things that you can do to become a confident person overall. Here are some of them.
1. Achieve – Nothing adds to your confidence more than doing things and feeling accomplished. It is the proverbial eating of the pudding that tells you that the pudding is very much there. So, push yourself and get things done.
Caveat 1 – Accomplishing goals and getting things done however, needs to be done carefully. If you set super ambitious goals for yourself, you are just setting yourself up for failure, misery and further lack of confidence. On the other hand, taking smaller steps towards your goal or setting out to do stuff one step at a time can increase your faith in yourself, slowly but surely!
Caveat 2 – Make sure that you monitor your progress, so you know that you are moving along the path and making headway. It does not help to take on super easy tasks fooling yourself into believing you are capable of anything. There is a fine line that divides real confidence and a false sense of security or fooling yourself.
2. Accept – Self- acceptance is the first step towards self-confidence. If you keep criticizing yourself with regards to the things that you are not able to do, confidence will evade you forever. Learning to love yourself the way you are, is critical to confidence.
Caveat 1 – This does not mean that you do not take steps to increase your capabilities. You should practice and become a better musician or work hard and work towards that promotion you want. Try and assess yourself objectively and identify gaps in your abilities that you can fill up, take courses that help you along the way. All this needs to be done while ensuring that you love the person you are along with the limitations that the personality may have. No one is perfect and you must work your way through life using your strengths and avoiding things that expose your weaknesses. There is no point lamenting that you are not musically inclined (like the rest of the family) and feeling inadequate. It is best to accept this trait and focus on other aspects of your abilities that you can exploit and grow further.
Caveat 2 – It is not easy for everyone to love themselves. Especially those who are adept at critically evaluating themselves, pegging themselves along with the best of the best in each category. Look at it like this – you don’t love your mother, father, siblings or anyone else based on how good they are academically or how much they earn. You love them because of who they are, what they do for you and how you love being in their company. Use similar criteria for yourself too and accept what you are and love yourself, no matter what!
3. Self-Focus – If you look for ratification for your actions in others, you are likely to end up being lost and confused. It is impossible to make everyone happy. While you may be able to get approvals for your actions from some, there will always be others that will have something critical to say about your decisions. In fact, everyone seems to be smarter after the fact and many will have various comments about what you should have done instead. Don’t bother about seeking approval from anyone. If it feels right to you and if it leads to a better life for yourself (from your own perspective and not the world’s), it is the right things to do.
Caveat 1 – It is easy to fall into a trap of overconfidence when you do not seek anyone’s approval especially if you do so from a place of ‘I don’t care’. The feeling needs to be mature and stable and it should not emanate from a place of anger, guilt or sulkiness. This is important because while you make your own decisions and disregard criticism after the fact, keeping an open mind to suggestions and ideas will only take you further in your achievements. Evaluate what people say and then decide for yourself what you deem best.
Caveat 2 – In an attempt to be self-focused, don’t forget that you are part of a family, a society and an environment. Being self-focused does not mean that you have to become selfish and think only about yourself. It only means that you use your own benchmarks to decide what you think is right or wrong, good or bad for you.
4. Avoid Comparison – This is something that we have often heard in the context of children – avoid making comparisons between your children or comparing your children with their classmates. It also holds true for yourself. Comparisons between any two people are insane. In the race to get caught up with the Jones’s, we forget that each one of us has a journey that is unique, just as each one if us is unique! When we compare anything in our life with another person, we forget that they have had a different journey than ours. If you were to be the best in each of the areas that you are looking at, you would pretty much be the perfect person and that would make you a fantasy because there is no one who is perfect.
Caveat 1 – While comparing yourself with someone else will not help your self-confidence, comparison can lead you to a better place if you are inspired. There is a difference in having a desire to emulate another to become better at something and feeling forlorn at the achievements of another. Don’t compare but don’t give up looking at other people and getting inspired.
Caveat 2 – The whole process of comparison can be extremely exhausting. You can never be in another person’s shoes and therefore there is no way you can understand another completely. Thinking about another life can take away focus from your own. A huge factor in increasing self-doubt and lack of confidence is social media. But if everyone’s lives are as great as they make them out to be on Facebook, why is the rate of depression going up? Quit comparison and quit it for good!
5. Exercise – Your body is a small contributor in who you are. However, it is the one aspect that most people and even you see most often. Staying healthy and fit contributes to your feeling of self-worth. Make sure to exercise at least four times in a week, if not six. Exercise generates happy hormones called endorphins that go a long way in keeping you peppy, cheerful and confident too.
Caveat 1 – Exercise impacts your hormones and therefore revs up your mood temporarily. While it is a quick fix for ensuring that you have an active and positive day ahead, working on how you think about yourself is far more important for long term progress in the confidence department.
Caveat 2 – While having a goal when you exercise is a good thing, it can sometimes get evasive and lead you to giving up the habit. Have a general goal in mind, but also tell yourself that you are to exercise everyday for the rest of your life. You obviously need to tune it based on your age, gender, situation in life and other such factors. Nevertheless, some exercise is a must in all phases of your life.
Try these tips with an open mind and see where it goes. Needless to say, there is no one that can help you overcome this other than yourself. No number of compliments and accolades from others will assure you of your real worth unless you are ready to accept yourself for what and who you are.
If you want to read more about how to go beyond your limits, check out this book by Martin Meadows – Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals
Learn to Love Yourself Unconditionally!