One of the questions that I get asked a lot is how can i feel more confident about myself, how can I have more self belief, how do I get more confidence? More often than not, it crops up because there is something that we want to do, something that we want to achieve but we feel that we need confidence to do it, to achieve it and those that do achieve it must have bucketfuls of it!
It’s such a shame that I can’t bottle it, or that we can’t buy it in a well known supermarket, I’m sure if we could, it would fly off the shelves and be an enormous hit! Buy the stark reality is that it isn’t a thing at all, it’s simply our thinking that morphs it into a thing, but this is good news because it gives us an impactful insight into what confidence really is, and more importantly what it isn’t.
The truth is that confidence is something that we have, we do it, or rather it’s self doubt that we are, in reality, doing. Often we start from a place of confidence and hope, and like it or not, our default is actually to be confident. But then the doubts flood in, the ‘what ifs’, the ‘this won’t work’, the ‘I’ve tried this before’ or ‘I’ll just get it wrong again’ and it’s this doubtful thinking that actually deflates us and gives the illusion that we’re not confident, that we don’t have confidence. So it’s not that we aren’t confident beings it’s that we are rather good at doing lots of doubtful thinking that we believe to be true!
Often when I unpick this doubtful thinking with clients, we discover that it often falls into three broad areas, that when we realise what it is, it becomes easier to let it go.
The first is trying to predict what is going to happen in the future, I’m sure you’ve tried this, when you’ve said ‘it won’t work’ or ‘I won’t be any good’ we all do it from time to time, we run scared of a failure that hasn’t happened yet and nor do we know that it will. In many ways it’s a safety mechanism that we have, except it isn’t a terribly accurate guide of what is going to happen!
The second is accepting what others say as an absolute universal truth of our ability. The teacher who made a passing comment, a grumpy friend who told you what they thought or maybe a concerned parent! It doesn’t seem to matter how long ago it was, we are able to remember these comments with complete accuracy and repeat them to ourselves over and over again! However, the reality is that these comments are often made in the heat of the moment, not intended to have such a lasting impact and the real truth is that the person is no longer in the room with you saying that comment, it’s simply us repeating it and we have the choice to accept it or reject it.
The third, and equally impactful is our fear of what others will think, we spend an inordinate amount of energy worrying about what others may or may not think, guessing the criticism that they may level at us. The reality is of course that we can’t possibly read their minds, and not only that, even if we asked would they tell us the truth? And if they did, that would only be their thought in that moment, a thought that may well change as their perspective changes.
There may well be others but ultimately, the bottom line is that so often our thinking simply doesn’t know about the reality that we are in, it’s simply some scary, doubtful, story and when we recognise it’s like we press a reset button and we go back to feeling ok, that quietly confident, hopeful person that we know we are.
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