Confidence and how it isn’t as mysterious as it’s made out to be.
While people set out to improve their bodies through exercise, their brains through learning, and virtually everything else under the sun — confidence is often accepted as something you either have or you don’t. Well, I call bullshit. Contrary to what you might believe, confidence is a learnable skill much like tying your shoes or driving a car. The difference is that instead of being broken down into manageable parts like those two skills, it’s mystified. There’s no roadmap. Let’s look at a few key elements of confidence and show you how you can work on them.
Ingredient 1: Expert understanding and acceptance of yourself:
The first step to rock solid, unshakeable confidence is to fully understand yourself and get to a place where you accept who you are.
Step one is to take an inventory of every aspect of your life and give it an objective rating as if you were evaluating someone you didn’t know. Are you average-looking, a stunner, or a mirror-breaker? Are you overweight? Are you smart? Are you poor? Do you have a weird mole on your neck? Are you amazing in bed?
Take a look at this list. This is you. You might think some of these things are great. You might find some of them embarrassing. For virtually everyone, it’s a combination of positive and negative emotions.
Now forget those emotions. You see, everything – everything – on this list is objectively neutral. As much as you think your waistline is bad and your brain is good, it’s not. All of it is neutral.
Take intelligence, for example. You can view it as a positive thing and take pride in your intelligence, or you can feel out-of-place and isolated because you can’t relate to very many people. You could feel awful about your body if you’re overweight, or you could make millions off your extra weight as an offensive lineman. Depending on your perceptions, anything can be a positive or a negative. In a sense, you have the freedom to choose how to feel.
So, take a look at your list. The things you perceive as positive, keep them positive. Negatives undermine confidence, so we’re going to do away with those. Everything else, keep neutral. There may be neutrals that, with the right plan and some work, you can turn into positives. Do that. All the neutrals that are outside of your control, keep them as neutral. It takes work to keep the positives positive and the neutrals neutral. Work on it every day.
Ingredient 2: Mastery of not caring what people think:
Maybe you’ve accepted yourself, but that doesn’t mean other people have. No matter how awesome you get (and sometimes it happens because you’re awesome), there will always be haters looking to pour their haterade all over your accomplishments, your appearance, your haircut, anything they think will affect you.
It’s hard enough to manage your positives and neutrals when it’s just you. Add in outside people trying to poison you, and it gets even harder. It’s very easy for you to start perceiving your positives as neutrals and your neutrals as negatives in this situation.
The solution? Develop the skill of not caring what people think about you. There are a few ways to attack this. First off, the closer someone is to you, the more influence they are going to have. It’s only natural. Take a look at your inner-circle. Is there anyone there that is consistently taking your self-views down a notch? It could be unintentional so pay close attention. Consider spending less time with these people.
Another way is to determine why someone is hating on you. Do they just not understand you? Do you perhaps possess a quality that they don’t have and are just trying to bring you down out of spite? The more you can write off their criticisms as emotionally charged or simply untrue, the easier it is to ignore them.
The final tactic is perhaps the toughest to master, and you use it when the person’s criticisms are warranted. Perhaps you really did just do something stupid, and this person is trying to influence you to feel stupid because of it. In these kinds of situations, you have to ask yourself the question, “Does this person’s opinion have power over me?” In short, does it really matter what this person thinks of you? If this person thinks you’re stupid or talentless or boring, does that mean your whole day is ruined? Are you going to have to spend the rest of the week trying to change their mind? If they don’t like you, will you end of starving in the street?
The answer should be clear: Of course not. The only opinion that ultimately should matter to you is your opinion of yourself. If you messed up and this person is trying to make you feel bad, you are entitled to feel sorry – but make that choice for yourself. Don’t let someone else make it for you.
Ingredient 3: Mastery of results:
Be able to produce results somewhere in your life. It doesn’t have to be everywhere (though that doesn’t hurt). It could even just be one thing. Figure out a way to produce results and understand why and how you’re able to do it. Your ability to intentionally, consciously produce results builds a sense of value, purpose, and identity.
Can you make tons of money? Good, you’re valuable in the area of finances. You most certainly should work on your weaknesses, but when things aren’t going to great in other areas of your life, you have a real, measureable thing to fall back on to remind yourself that you’re worthwhile.
Are you an incredible listener, an empathic person who can build relationships with anyone? Perfect, when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, remember that you have tons of great friends and relationships – not because of your looks or your bank account – but because you’re actually good at being a friend. You’ve made their lives better, and having good relationships is probably one of the most fulfilling parts of life.
Ingredient 4: Mastery of reaffirming thoughts:
No, this isn’t “positive thinking,” where if you just keep telling yourself you’re amazing until you just blindly believe it. Reaffirming thoughts are simply there to remind you what you’re capable of. When things go wrong, the voice inside your head tells you, “Sure, you lost this time, but that doesn’t make you a loser. You’ve won so many times in the past that this is really just a champion that lost one round.”
Note that you’re not whitewashing failure, but you’re flipping the script and framing it in a way that reminds you of your past successes and your potential for future successes. Doubt in and of itself doesn’t undermine confidence. Everyone has doubts, and it’s an important tool to make sure you’re not being foolhardy or overaggressive. Persistent doubt, however, does undermine confidence, and mastery of reaffirming thoughts is the top skill to make sure you don’t fall into a pattern that cause you to fight against yourself.