How Can I Become More Confident?
Do you lack confidence?
Does fear or uncertainty keep you from doing things you want to do?
Can you envision yourself living a bolder, more vibrant life?
Do you ever ask yourself (or others): “How can I become more confident?”
While it may seem that most other people have as much confidence as they need, the truth is that almost everybody suffers from the paralysis of fear or uncertainty. Some only once in a while; some nearly every day! It can be a small obstacle to a happy life, with only a bit of anxiety or sleepless night once in a while, or it can be crushing, keeping otherwise capable people stuck in a rut or almost completely incapable of leaving the house.
Please keep in mind that if you suffer from a serious mental illness or a debilitating condition, you should seek medical advice. Legitimate health problems are nothing to be ashamed of, and the tools to diagnose and treat them are better than at any time in history.
But if you’re just seeking to raise your game – to move to a healthier, bolder, more joyful life, then there are things you can do that don’t necessarily require medical assistance.
There’s Confidence and There’s Caution
Let me be clear … there are times when caution is called for. If you’re facing a serious threat, or contemplating a major life change, you should definitely spend time thinking about the consequences and planning for the most effective solutions possible. On the other hand, if you’ve done the planning, considered your goals from many angles, and figured out an approach with a good chance at success, you may have to put caution aside and charge boldly into action.
If you’ve spent a long time with yourself and a lack of confidence is in your nature, it pays to spend time building new habit sets before trying to go from close to zero to hero in one bold move. In Psychology Today, Megan Dalia-Camina describes a four-step process to gradually build your confidence levels.
· Identify your triggers
o What situations typically expose your lack of confidence?
o Knowing what triggers you is a key to resolving your fears
· Catch your stories
o Are you narrating your own way into timidity or fear?
o Pay attention to your inner narrative (what I call the “inside stuff”)
· Ask the magic question
o “Is that actually true?”
o Our inner narrative can undermine our outward efforts
o Call your internal critic out for telling destructive stories about you
· Know your confidence boosters
o Figure out what things do boost your confidence
o Do those things with intention and on a helpful schedule
Dalla-Camina explains that we often imagine we’ll magically resolve our confidence issues as if we’ve been struck by lightning. That’s not true in my experience (both with myself and with people I’ve coached), and Dalla-Camina points out that “It rarely happens like that. We build our confidence through taking small steps consistently that move us toward the best version of ourselves. Steps that inch us closer to what we know to be true, not what we worry others think. Steps that help us move into our power.”
Another Approach to Building Your Confidence
Be sensible at first with building confidence. Going crazy all at once hardly ever works with behavior change. Instead, identify legitimate methods, chose the one that you think will work, and apply is systematically over time. Get help if you need it – coaching, therapy, a talk group, or a close friend or loved one who’s in your corner and willing to help.
I love the “Three Good Things”method that Meg Selig outlines in Psychology Today. Selig explains:
The easy exercise for confidence-building is a “Daily Success Review.” It is a cousin to the famous gratitude exercise-- “Three Good Things”-- in which you take some time at the end of the day to focus on three good things that happened to you that day and why. In this variation, you will focus on three successes, large or small, that you had on a particular day.
The process is straightforward: Take three minutes, or less, to make a mental note of (or write down) one to three successes of your day.
By “successes,” I do not necessarily mean major achievements, although if you have them, by all means think about them and bask in the glory of them. But don’t overlook the power of your everyday “small wins.” By focusing on daily victories, you are reinforcing your constructive actions and thoughts, thus making it likely you’ll have more “small wins” on subsequent days.
Some of you may be thinking, “Successes?!? I don’t have successes. My life is a mess.” I suspect that many people may not realize all the possibilities there are for feeling good about themselves during a given day.
She gives 25 examples in her article, but just to keep this as personal as possible, here are a few things that I think about when I need to remember what I’ve accomplished:
· I made my bed.
· I spent time with my daughter before school.
· I was engaged and caring with my employees.
· I said, “thank you.”
· I exercised.
· I stuck with my diet.
· I was generous with my knowledge or energy.
Your “three things” may be larger or smaller than mine … that doesn’t matter. The key is to pay attention to the fact that you are probably doing good things every day. If we’re focusing specifically on confidence-building actions, it may actually be helpful to have a slightly different list. I use behaviors like these to help prime the confidence pump:
· I made a difficult phone call (I hate talking on the phone in general, but especially if there’s a conflict to address).
· I let someone know they haven’t fulfilled expectations (with kindness).
· I’ve stepped into a tough karate or judo match.
· I communicated in a foreign language (I speak a little Japanese … awkwardly).
· I committed to a major new project.
When You Need Help Getting More Confidence
For some reason, a lot people overlook professional help for confidence problems. I’m a big fan of coaches, mentors and even therapists when I need them. Asking for help can be the key to getting started on your road to great confidence.
And don’t forget the value of a supportive peer group. Too often, we settle for the people around us (friends, family, co-workers) because it’s convenient or because it’s what we’re used to. But if your circle isn’t boosting your confidence, it may be time to start building another circle.
I’m a huge fan of “unconditional positive regard,” which means having people around you that support you completely and unconditionally. You can read about it in my article “How to Stop Feeling Guilty.” But it’s tough to find people who live with such a positive mindset. That’s why I created Permission – The Event. It’s a chance to spend a day with a group of people who are committed to total positive support. You get to give support and you get to receive support, all while planning your ideal life with systematic frameworks, guidance, hugs, and cheering!
Whatever happens in your life, I wish you every success!
Nicklaus Suino is not a doctor or therapist, and the information on this site is not intended as medical or professional advice. You should seek professional care for help with real physical or psychological ailments. Your use of this site and the information contained here is subject to the terms and conditions set forth here.