There was a time when I didn’t know what self-confidence was. But I didn’t know that I didn’t know what self-confidence was. I thought being awkward, anxious and unsure of myself was totally normal.
Now that I’m in a new stage of my life (recent college grad, heyo), I’ve been thinking about confidence a lot lately. The truth is that most of us don’t have self-confidence because we lack self-awareness. We aren’t sure how to manage our thoughts and emotions, so we constantly feel like our lives are out of our control.
Self-confidence is a state of being in which the thoughts you have create a belief in yourself and your capabilities.
The foundation of this belief is trust. Cultivating a relationship of trust with yourself is one of the most important things you can do.
One of the ways I’ve done this is by writing every day. This was a baby step that built a lot of momentum for me. First, I focused on developing my voice. When I was familiar with my voice, I published on Medium. Now that I have gained a following, I work hard to publish high quality content as frequently as possible. All of these steps have increased my self-confidence because I know I will show up for myself.
The goal is to gain self-confidence based on your thinking, not your past experiences. There will always be things we want to do that we have never done before and if we rely on our experiences to make us self-confident, there will always be a gap in our belief that we can do it.
Self-confidence is necessary in order to develop our capabilities. This is why it must come before our experiences. It can be created.
“Self-confidence instructs others on how to think about you.” — Brooke Castillo
By the way you treat yourself, you instruct others how to treat you. This isn’t about getting people to think certain things about you — you have no control over that. However, your attitude towards yourself informs others on what kind of attitude to have towards you.
When you like yourself, treat yourself with respect and are free of judgement about yourself, you influence others to do the same.
If you have a creative idea, a business you want to start or anything that requires you to be bold, you need self-confidence to move forward.
Here are mindsets to adopt in order to increase your self-confidence:
Be willing to feel any emotion.
The worst thing that can happen is a difficult emotion. If you can commit to feeling any emotion in order to get the result you want, then nothing can stop you.
When you trust in yourself that you are able to bounce back from sadness, disappointment, frustration, depression and any other difficult emotions, then you can enter any situation with confidence.
Redirect the energy you spend trying to avoid emotions and instead use it to pursue what you’re after. The weight of your fear will no longer hold you down in your decision-making.
Listen to your inner child.
The belief that we need experience in order to be self-confident did not exist within us as children. Everything was new to us and we weren’t scared to try the things we were interested in.
Think about learning how to walk. We didn’t ruminate over whether we could or not; we would walk, fall, get up again and repeat this cycle as many times as it took until we could walk. We did not approach anything with hesitation or self-doubt. Release the fear that you have been taught and reclaim this lost mindset. The act of honoring your own inner voice increases your feelings of self-respect.
Be curious, not hesitant.
What are your limits?
I once went to a networking event at a rock climbing gym (how else are you going to find people who enjoy solving problems?). I was nervous because I had tried rock climbing three years ago and could not make it even halfway up the wall. I was sure I was going to humiliate myself but I knew I’d get over it. The most important thing was showing up.
Well, since those three years, I had been consistently working out and focusing on my fitness. By the time it was my turn to climb the wall, I made it to the top way faster than I thought I would. I went on to do this three more times.
Be curious about what you can do, not hesitant. Don’t fall back into autopilot and think, “I’m not sure if I can do that,” “I’ve never done that before, so…”
Approach your situations with genuine curiosity. Just how good can you be?
Rejection? Bring it on.
What if instead of avoiding rejection, we developed a “bring it on” attitude? That would essentially eliminate the fear of being rejected.
I remember having a conversation with a friend a couple months ago when I told him that I was worried about impressing people sometimes.
“Impress people? Who the f**k are you trying to impress?”
And just like that, I had an epiphany. So many of us are trying to impress those who we cannot even name. Those who aren’t worth our time. Those who wouldn’t even understand or appreciate what it takes for us to do the meaningful things that we do.
Who are you trying to impress and why? Our society breeds this idea within us at a very young age to “be the best” and that life is a competition, but surely we’ve seen past this illusion by now.
The real truth is that rejection cannot hurt you unless you create a story about why it should.
Be true to yourself. Do not reject yourself in order to avoid being rejected by others.
Be committed to your capabilities, not your comfort.
The more conscious I become, the more I see that the people who are most dedicated to their comfort over anything else have the lowest levels of self-confidence. They have prioritized their comfort above growth to the point that they’re not even sure what they are capable of because they’ve remained stagnant for so long.
This creates a vicious cycle of lacking the self-confidence to do something and not doing something because they lack self-confidence.
Don’t let yourself get into that cycle. Be conscious and always trust that you can rise to any occasion.
Do what you say you will do.
You have to honor your word. When you follow through with what you said you would, you earn your own trust. Self-confidence is all about trust.
When you know that you can follow through, that you can get things done, and you can rely on yourself, then you know you’ve got your own back.
Know yourself by leaving your comfort zone.
Not enough can be said about the power of self-awareness.
You have no idea how resilient you are until you make it a point to know. You have no idea how quickly or how well you can respond to things you never thought you’d be able to. And you already know what happens when you do something you didn’t think you could.
Put yourself in high-pressured situations where you are forced to grow.
It sucks to do this, I know. As humans, we want to be safe, certain and secure. But being able to perform under pressure is one of the most effective ways to trust yourself. Knowing you can bounce back from pressure with grace is nothing short of empowering.
My parents opened a restaurant when I was 11 years old and I grew up working in it. You ever been in a situation where you had to serve customers and cook their food? Have you done this for an entire restaurant for 14 years?
Those high pressured situations were so stressful to me that I became a master at handling my stress by the time I was 18.
Now when I’m faced with a situation full of pressure, I think, “Well, at least I don’t have to serve and cook food for an entire restaurant right now in the span of an hour.”
Get into a high pressured environment/situation (whatever that looks like to you) and use that as your baseline. Everything else will be easier after that.
The act of doing.
When you take a leap of faith and reveal your work to the world (or whatever you’re wanting to do)— you have created a very powerful ripple of energy towards your goals.
You have acted. You have created. You have dedicated yourself to your personal intentions and that is powerful.
That is a message to the universe, to all around you, and most importantly, to yourself, that you’re willing to take the hits and the rewards. You put yourself in the very powerful position of both giving and receiving.
When you put yourself in a position like this, your new world will begin to take shape. This breeds self-confidence.
One of the reasons that is so powerful is because most of us ask for a certain life, but we are incapable of holding that life. Earn your trust that you are capable of supporting the life you want and watch how things unfold before you.