Confidence, as an issue, comes up for my clients, in one form or another, on an almost daily basis. Over the years, I’ve worked with them to build their confidence and spent a lot of time reading, thinking and studying the issue.
I’ve observed that those who struggle with confidence can get a boost when something good happens in their life. They experience some success or get positive feedback from someone they respect. They go to a Conference or do a workshop and get pumped up and excited. But often that feeling doesn’t last. That’s because the emotions are externally motivated and don’t signify a true internal shift.
I think one of the challenges around creating confidence is a foundational misunderstanding of what it actually is. Without really understanding what is happening and why, it is difficult to create a lasting internal shift from lacking in confidence to feeling fully confident. And feeling fully confident will lead you to taking the actions you need to take to create success.
What is Confidence?
We tend to use the word in two ways:
- Confidence is a feeling – I feel confident, or I feel unsure. It is a description of how you feel and how that feeling causes you to behave – I step confidently up to the podium to speak.
- Confidence is a belief – I am confident I can achieve this. And it often implies a deeper set of beliefs about the nature of reality, a trust in the benevolence of the universe.
As I teach in Transform Your Belief – The Key to Success, the relationship between belief and emotion works like this:
And so confident beliefs/ideas/thoughts lead to being in a confident state or feeling confident.
In my experience, trying to change things at the level of feeling is extremely difficult and doesn’t tend to stick. And “Acting as If” is exhausting. While a positive result may make you feel better for a little while, because the underlying disempowering beliefs driving those emotions still exist, they will pull you back into the lower emotional state. The only real lasting change comes from changing your beliefs/ideas/thoughts.
What I’ve found very interesting in doing this work, however, is that changing those thoughts is usually not nearly as hard as people expect. Because you are a complex being, you have many different beliefs in your belief reservoir. And those beliefs range from very disempowering to truly empowering. We just have habits about which belief we tend to inhabit. Which belief we energize or activate moment-to-moment.
So, next time you find yourself feeling uncertain and need a confidence boost, try this:
Step One – Notice and Decide
Notice that you are feeling badly, unsure, self-conscious. And decide that now is as good a time as any to feel more confident.
Step Two – Identify the Thought
What are you thinking/believing at this moment that has you feeling badly, unsure and self-conscious? Can you put it into language, specifically?
For example, let’s say you’re going in for an interview, calling for a booking, auditioning for a gig. And you’re feeling scared, nervous, and unsure. Perhaps the thought is: “What if they don’t like me?” Well, what would that mean about you? Perhaps the underlying belief is, “I’ll never be successful.” Or “I’m a failure.”
Step Three – Choose a Different Thought
So, now that you’ve identified the thought that’s creating the feeling, pick a new thought about these circumstances THAT YOU ALREADY BELIEVE.
See that’s the key. The mistake most people make with affirmations is that they pick an affirmation they wish they believed, but they don’t. That’s too hard! So, pick a belief that you really can get behind.
- “The more I practice, the better I get.”
- “If this opportunity doesn’t work out, there’s another one down the line.”
- “However this goes, I’ll learn from it and improve.”
See, it doesn’t have to be in direct opposition in order to shift how you feel. Try just tweaking it by about 10 degrees.
Step Four – Keep Thinking That Thought – On Purpose
Keep thinking it, find evidence for it. Notice how and where it’s true. Notice when you’re thinking something else and choose to think this thought instead. Look for all the ways its true some more. And think it again.
It’s not that you’ll never have those other thoughts again. It’s not that you’ll never feel badly again. It’s that when you do – you’ll know that you can always change your mind. Just think a different thought.