Intuitively you know that self-confidence is a desired trait to possess. You may have heard the words, “you just need to develop some self-confidence” directed at you when you were younger, so you equated self-confidence with success, a noble goal to achieve. Somewhere along the way, however, you got distracted. Merriam-Webster defines self-confidence as: confidence in one’s self and one’s abilities.
In my experience coaching individuals to free up time in their lives for what they truly enjoy and want to spend more time doing, developing self-confidence is never the actual goal. The core focus is developing self-awareness. You can’t build confidence in yourself until you know who you are and what you are capable of achieving. I have the person take time to examine what he or she values and the behaviors he or she has that are getting in the way of what’s really desired. Self-confidence will naturally increase when you know who you are, what you stand for, and in which direction you want your life to go.
One exercise I like to use with people is to have them write their own obituary. It sounds morbid but the purpose is to serve as a wake up call, which many people need to shake free of standing still. First, write what you think people would say about you today if you were gone. Second, write the words you want people to say about you. Seeing this juxtaposition helps you begin to uncover some of the beliefs you’re harboring about yourself.
Fear is almost always at the root of what keeps people from moving through obstacles and challenges in life: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and sometimes fear of success. When you dwell on thoughts of doubt, failure, and inefficiency you give those thoughts power; and over time your unconscious mind begins to believe those limiting messages running through your head: “I’m not good enough;” “People will laugh if I try and fail;” “I don’t deserve to be happy and successful.”
Indecision is a frequent cause of fear. People hesitate to take a step one way or the other for fear that they might do the wrong thing, and this spirit of irresolution and hesitation often leads them into the very mistakes they would avoid. It’s like a person on a bicycle, endeavoring to steer clear of an obstruction on the road, but all the while keeping his eyes on the obstacle so that a collision is inevitable. There is nothing more disastrous to success than being distracted by obstacles instead of keeping your eyes on the end goal.
The extremes to which a fearful person will sometimes go to avoid doing the self-reflection work are understandable. You’re challenging beliefs you’ve held for a number of years. Surprisingly, just beginning the process of self-examination is freeing and gives a huge boost to your self-confidence.
It’s heartening to know that confidence breeds confidence. Once you begin to see yourself emerging on the path of your choosing, you develop energy and motivation to reach for more and more. The building of self-confidence doesn’t have to be difficult; it requires intelligent, consistent effort to know yourself and patience. It takes time to “clean house” when you’ve got so much clutter in your head and you have behaviors to change. Be compassionate with yourself—as understanding as you would be with a friend undergoing life changes.
If you want to be self-confident, resolve to follow it to completion with bulldog tenacity. Realize that no half-hearted, intermittent efforts will achieve your desired purpose. Hold in your mind the supreme assurance that you can and will achieve it by getting to know who you are and what you want in life. Your reward for your energy and perseverance will be everything you imagine.