First of all, let’s put some basic things in place in the topic of confidence. When you ask: “How can I be more confident?”, I ask back: “More confident in what?” More confident around women, in social situations, in your purpose, in your work, or in your looks? You need to define the area in which you want to build confidence before you do anything else.
There’s nobody in the world who’s absolutely confident in everything, except for fools and fanatics. But there’s also no person who is not confident in at least some things, including you. You’re quite confident in certain things, while you lack confidence in some other areas. Look at your strenghts, and notice: what makes you confident in those, what’s the difference?
If you feel that you have a low self-confidence in general, then you have a problem with self-esteem instead. If this is you, then I want you to watch my episode titled “How to stop seeking validation”. I’m sure people told you the useless advice to just believe in yourself, but like in one of my videos, I’m telling you exactly the opposite: Don’t believe in yourself!
If you want to have a strong self-confidence, then belief is not enough. Belief is just a weak substitute you use when you’re not sure in something. The underlying assumption may or may not be true, and you simply want to cover this uncertainty with a blind belief. Thus self-belief is directly responsible for self-doubt. What you really need instead is to know, love and trust yourself.
The word confidence comes from the latin confidere, which means to have full trust. So, when you want to build self-confidence what you really need to learn is how to trust yourself. But trusting yourself is quite an ambigous concept, so let’s first see how to trust somebody else, and then we’ll apply the same process to the relationship with yourself.
So, what are those concrete things that makes you trust a person, and what are those exact actions that would allow others to trust in you? Think of your best friend, and remember the time when you two were still just complete strangers. What happened that made you best friends, how did the process look like?
I’m sure many of the things I’m about to mention played a huge part. As time went by, you got to know each other more precisely. Your friend told you intimate details about his life, including his dreams, goals, struggles and challenges. As he opened up to you, uncovering even his deepest vulnerabilities and insecurities, this made you trust him quite a bit.
Trust can be built only with time, and it’s a slow process. You slowly learn that you can rely on your friend if he shows up time and time again, especially when you need him the most. When you desperately need some emotional, financial or physical help, your best friend is there to support you, he doesn’t abandon you because he cares about you.
If your friend proves with his actions and not only by his words that he has your best interests in mind, then he builds a huge amount of trust towards himself. Your friend doesn’t want to intentionally harm you, wrong you or cause you any pain. You can trust him only if you know that he loves you.
The third thing that builds trust is integrity and authenticity. When he promises something you can be rest assured that he will keep his word. He doesn’t overpromise anything just to please you and let you down in the end. He doesn’t lie to you and as your best friend, he will tell you the truth as it is, even if you may not like it. He does this out of love, so that you can learn and grow.
But even if you have full confidence in your best friend, you wouldn’t trust him to carry out a heart surgery on you, would you? That’s where the fourth component of confidence comes in: clarity and competency. A surgeon has clarity in the topic of anatomy, because he learned it for many years, he had to pass tests, so he knows how the heart works.
He also has competence in his field, because not only did he learn the theory, but he also put his knowledge in practice. Although his first attempts must have been awkward, he didn’t give up and practiced his skill over and over until it became second nature. In general, the more knowledge and experience somebody has in an area, the more confident he becomes, and in turn the more trust he generates in others.
The whole point of going through the components of trust is that now you can apply the very same elements to your relationship with yourself to build self-confidence. The first thing is to know yourself. What do you want, and what don’t you want? What do you like, and what don’t you like? What are your interests, goals and favorite activities?
It’s not enough to find these out through experimentation, you also have to respect them once you know them. You wouldn’t make your best friend do what you know he’s not interested in, so why do you do the same thing to yourself? The easiest way to build confidence in an area is to like it in the first place.
Also, don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses and open up your vulnerabilities to yourself. The sign of strong confidence is daring to be imperfect and vulnerable and still being okay with it. Adopt a growth mindset, in which you accept yourself as you are, but still work on yourself to be able to achieve more.
In your worst moments, when you perceive strong negative emotions, make sure not to abandon yourself, because it ruins self-trust faster than anything else. Don’t escape your emotions, be with them, like you would be with a good friend who’s going through some trauma. Be kind to yourself, accept your emotions fully without minimizing, ridiculing or suppressing them. This way, they will soon be over, and you’ll learn an important lesson from the experience: that you can rely on yourself no matter what.
To fully trust yourself, it’s also essential to have integrity in your thoughts, words and actions. Don’t make promises to yourself that you know you won’t be able to keep. Don’t do something just because somebody else wants you to do it. Don’t allow others to dissuade you from your dreams, goals and intentions. Know what you want to do, and then do it, it’s so simple.
The last strategy to be more confident is simply to be more experienced. How confident are you in your ability to walk? You don’t question it a bit, because you’ve walked probably thousands of miles in your lifetime, you are very experienced. But when you first tried walking as a baby, you were quite awkward, confused and insecure.
If every baby gave up walking after the first try, we would all be still crawling on the ground. If a baby falls, he stands up over and over again until he succeeds and never gives up. If even a small toddler shows such a mental strength, why can’t you conjure up some perseverance as an adult?
The more times you try, the more times you fail. The more times you fail, the more times you learn. The more times you learn, the more experience you have. The more experience you have, the more clarity you get. The more clarity you get, the more confident you become. Trying something again and again is the only true way to be more confident in it.
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