How To Gain Confidence And Apply It To Every Facet Of Your Life
I’ve often thought that if I meet the man who invented Tostitos Hint of Lime chips, I’d give him a hug, then punch him in the face.
When a bag of these chips is tucked away in my cabinet, it takes every ounce of willpower in my body to resist ’em. Especially on those late night spelunking trips into the cabinet. I LOVE them. My girlfriend has strict instructions to keep them out of the house.
No doubt you’ve experienced a case of the midnight munchies yourself.
Believe it or not, every time you give in to it, you are KILLING your confidence. Here’s how:
If you’re like most semi-well-adjusted modern men, you’ve occasionally allowed one night of staying up late and gaming/facebook stalking/working/watching Breaking Bad/etc. to turn into two nights, then three nights, and so on…
… and pretty soon, a cycle forms in your life.
It’s pretty easy to slip into these cycles – probably easier than it’s ever been in the history of humanity, considering how much of your life you can live from behind a computer screen. We’ve got to be one of the most sedentary cultures ever.
Fran and I were talking the other day about money, and I thought back to my early twenties. I had this software company I ran, but I was profoundly unhappy there. My “release” was auto racing – I’d take my Audi to the track every weekend and let out all of the aggression.
Unfortunately, racing is not a cheap hobby. Hence “if you want to make a small fortunate in racing, start with a large fortune.”
I remember my parents telling me that I needed to cut back on it. Every weekend was a few thousand in expenses between gasoline, brake pads, tires, track fees, hotel expenses, etc…
But it was a cycle to which I’d become very attached. I fought tooth and nail to let go of that one, and only did so once the credit card debt hit about $5000.
In fact, bad spending habits have always been my achilles heel, and it’s really easy for me to spend instead of saving. For years, I was addicted to the chemicals that were released when I’d drop some money on a nice new shirt, some bottles at the club, or a new set of Sparco racing seats.
For other people, it’s food. How does a fat person get fat? By eating more calories than he or she is burning. And as with my spending habit, it’s the release of “feel good chemicals” that makes eating such an addiction for people.
A lot of this stuff is head-slappingly obvious. Behavioral cycles that get you into debt, cause massive weight gain, or lead to drug addiction… it’s easy to see how they happen to people.
And it’s also a no-brainer that you can’t be very confident when you’re trapped in one of these cycles. Arrogant, maybe, but if you’re a slave to an addiction, then it’s your master, not you, who’s calling the shots. True confidence only happens when your willpower triumphs, and you call the shots.
So let’s pivot, and consider something MUCH more deadly: personal relationship cycles.
These are way more subtle, because the dynamics of relationships are SO much more complex than those of spending or eating.
You can get addicted to someone for so many reasons. Maybe the sex is mind-blowingly good. Maybe you’re really insecure and they provide you a lot of ego validation. Maybe you crave their approval. Maybe you depend on them for money, a job, or some sort of support. Maybe you just get hooked on the ups and downs of an emotionally explosive pairing.
Maybe, as I was discussing with a client yesterday, you’re just a good dude, and someone is taking advantage of your good nature and causing you to second-guess yourself.
There are three things that make relationship cycles so difficult to break…
1.) for all the above reasons, it’s not always obvious when they’re bad for you
2.) the cycles of pleasure and reward take on many forms – physical, emotional, etc.
3.) usually, they’re coupled with other cycles… of health, finance and sometimes, spirituality.
When you’re in a personal relationship, it can take months or years to see when it’s not healthy for you. And depending on the cycle you’re stuck in, breaking out of it can be sooooo hard.
It’s especially tough when you’re dependent on someone for something. Back at one of my previous companies, I always felt like the rug might be pulled out from under me at any given minute. So while I could fake a degree of confidence to girls, I had many sleepless nights and “alone moments” where doubt and anxiety crept in.
I’d shut it out because I didn’t want to confront the truth of my situation.
Because the truth meant massive, significant change. It meant leaving that professional relationship behind, and striking out on my own. In the wilderness of uncertainty.
It was no different during the first few breakups with girls.
Chances are that you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been stuck in something that wasn’t great for you, but as goes the saying, “better to go with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Fear, apathy, and comfort kept you in the relationship… in the cycle.
But as I learned in my early twenties, when the lows get lower than the highs are good, it’s time to get out to the relationship. To break the cycle.
And sometimes the lows are less acute than, say, coming down off a drug high. Sometimes you’re just living in the lows… the credit card bill that arrives every month, slightly larger than it was last month. The weight that just won’t go away.
The “feeling” that something is wrong in your relationship, and the general sense of unease that comes with it.
But man… fear of the unknown that lies ahead… it’s so hard to overcome. It’s there in the back of your mind. And while you so desperately want it for yourself, you’re still afraid of leaving your comfort zone. Because that means working at it. Getting out there. Starting something new. Putting the energy in.
And that’s the toughest thing of all. When you’re stuck in a cycle – whether it’s with food, debt, people, general lifestyle – you’ve also got inertia working against you. Inertia gives a cycle it’s power.
“I’m already in deep… what’s a few hundred more gonna matter? I’ll deal with this… eventually”
So THIS is where your confidence goes to hell in a hand basket. Where – rather than making the decision to change, to do the work, to put in the energy… you succumb to the cycle that’s been eating you up.
That’s the moment that you surrender control and give up on yourself.
Hey… it’s hard to let go of the cycles that keep us comfortable.
It’s hard to quit that job and surrender to “figuring it out”.
It’s hard to commit to the long, slow climb of getting out of debt or getting into good shape.
It’s hard to put aside the crossword puzzle and net porn, and get out there, make new friends, and brave the dating scene.
Neither you nor your ego wants to face those challenges.
But this is exactly where confidence happens: when there’s something you KNOW you want… and where it’s going to be TOUGH going… and you make the decision to do it anyway.
So let’s make our final pivot.
Where does confidence come from?
Dictionary definitions aside, confidence is the feeling that “I got this.”
You approach a situation, square it up, put your game face on, and get EXCITED about the challenge ahead.
You trust in yourself, because you’ve gotten it right before.
As my motorcycle racing coach once said, “confidence is predictable results.”
So how do you start building it?
Well, it starts by changing up your feedback cycles.
You see, the “reward” that most people seek in a feedback cycle is something that’s comfortable, pleasurable, or stimulating. And yep, you’ve gotta have those as incentives to keep you moving along. The more you produce, the more you deserve to consume.
But to adapt the whole “journey is the reward” thing and making it slightly less cliche and more actionable, think of it this way:
the challenge is ultimately what you seek.
Like Ryu in Street Fighter.
When you shift the peak of your feedback cycle from comfort/release/consumption, to challenge/building/production, you GAIN POWER.
You take it upon yourself to be responsible for the outcomes of your life, rather than surrendering them to someone or something else.
And when you’re faced with those inevitably tough moments when you want to hang back, keep comfortable, and give in, you remember this maxim:
a boy lets his emotions guide his actions. a man lets his actions guide his emotions.
Don’t feel like going to the gym? I hear you… but think about how amazing you’re going to feel after a workout.
Don’t feel like going out? I hear you… but think how great it’s going to be to meet a whole bunch of new people.
Don’t feel like talking to that girl who’s giving you eyes? I hear you, but think about how great it’s going to feel to walk away with her number.
You take the long view, with your intended outcome in mind. Your current emotional state is a balloon in the breeze, so man up and push it where you want it to go.
And when you look at your current relationships and situations, you make the decision to cut off the ones that are holding you back.
The etymology of the word “decision” is “de” (off) and “cadre” (cut).
To decide is to cut something off. To close the range of options you have, and move forward with certainty.
And making decisions – especially when it comes to personal and professional relationships – is HARD.
But making decisions gives you power.
It focuses you and forces you to move in the direction that YOU determine. The one that’s RIGHT for YOU.
Breaking out of bad relationships is HARD. But the more you do it, and succeed on your own, the more you trust yourself to do it again in the future.
And when you make that decision, it’s sink or swim.
But this is a GREAT place to be at. Trust me. When you challenge yourself with situations where the line between success and failure is clear, your will to succeed becomes stronger and stronger.
Your power grows. As does your confidence.
So confidence means being at your “edge” as often as possible. With social activities, with your career, with health and fitness…
And most importantly, it means doing it for yourself. For your own benefit, first. You look at your decisions through this lens.
“I’m doing this because I respect myself, and I want to respect myself more.”
That’s what embracing the challenge is all about.
That’s very different than “I want the respect of others.”
But paradoxically, the more that you do stuff that makes you respect yourself, the more others will respect you.
And when your whole damn LIFE becomes a feedback cycle of challenge and breakthrough, your confidence just RADIATES from you.
Because whenever a new challenge comes your way… no matter what form… you’ve trained yourself to embrace it.
The fear of the unknown – of that big gaping maw of what’s “out there” – begins to recede.
Because you’ve “got this.” This “life” thing. You’re succeeding at it. You’re making the right decisions. You trust yourself. You respect yourself.
This is the path. Intuitively, you already know this.
Educate yourself and work smart. Get mentors and mastermind groups if you want to accelerate your results.
Get Lean. Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get a trainer if you want to accelerate your results. Surround yourself with other health-conscious people.
Get out there and talk to girls. Try every tip you read. Get coaching if you want to accelerate your results. Hang out with guys who share your social goals.
But NEVER SETTLE for getting stuck.
NEVER let a safe but negative feedback cycle hold you back from the challenging but positive cycle you WANT to be living.
You want better than that.
It might hurt from time to time. But what do you prefer… the good pain of pushing through your challenges, or the bad pain of mediocrity?
Ray Dalio, a really smart dude who runs the biggest hedge fund in the world, puts it like this:
“Nature gave us pain as a messaging device, to tell us that we are approaching, or that we have exceeded, our limits in some way. At the same time, nature made the process of getting stronger to require us to push our limits. Gaining strength is the adaptation process of the body and mind to encountering one’s limits, which is painful. In other words, both pain and strength typically result from encountering one’s barriers.”
Being great with women…? Man, if this is where your head is at, the woman stuff is gonna come so much more easily.
This is what we want for you. This is the long game we’re playing here. Thanks for continuing to be a part of it.