You either have self-confidence or you don’t, right? Wrong. Anyone can develop self-confidence. You just have to be open to change.
A great irony is that people who lack self-confidence are the same people who say they don’t like change. Yet to gain self-confidence, you have to take action. Action means doing something new, different, challenging. Something you’ve never done before. Seems like a vicious cycle, doesn’t it?
I believe we are all born with confidence in ourselves. We are completely unaware of judgments from others when we are young children. Then many of us get negative feedback from our parents, siblings, or kids at school, and these cause us to doubt ourselves. So think of self-confidence as something that we all have deep inside. Unfortunately, some of us responded to the negative feedback by building walls around our hearts as protective devices. But we should not let our thoughts about what other people say or what we imagine they are thinking change how we think about ourselves.
If you know people who lack self-confidence, there are always stories in their past that are to blame. “My father told me I was worthless.” “My sister hated me because I got to do things she didn’t.” Rather than questioning these judgments, some people absorb them. They turn them into beliefs. They can’t let go of these beliefs, despite how the beliefs are holding them back.
If you lack self-confidence, it is time to take down those protective walls that are actually hurting you, and build your own positive thoughts about yourself. It is time to start believing in yourself, letting go of other people’s hurtful words or feelings about you, and letting your new positive beliefs be your protection. Other people’s opinions are always about them and not you anyway. [Read more about other people’s opinions HERE]
Self-confidence is something that anyone can build. Like everything else, our self-image is based in our thinking. We can change the way we think about anything. ANYTHING.
There are a few steps you can take to build your self-confidence.
1. Make a list of at least 20 things you like or love about yourself.
I do this once a year because it is a great exercise that causes me to feel a lot of gratitude. Keep your list someplace handy, like on your smart phone. Refer to it as needed. If you’re having trouble making the list, think about what other people you care about say about you. Does your husband tell you you’re beautiful? Stop doubting it! Believe in your unique beauty.
2. Embrace change as a normal and positive part of life.
As John C. Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” The world is changing and so are you. Why not decide what you want to change and make it happen? How about starting by changing your negative thoughts about yourself? When you get those feelings of fear of change, look closely at those thoughts. Why are you wasting your energy on worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, and may never happen?
3. Do something new and challenging.
How about, instead of fearing change, set out to do something new or challenging? Don’t be afraid of failure. Fear of failure is so last year! If everyone were afraid of failure, we’d still be living in caves! Winston Churchill said that success was going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. When something you try doesn’t work the way you hoped, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. Look at this the way a scientist would look at an experiment. Scientists don’t think, “I’m an idiot because my experiment didn’t work.” They ask, “What didn’t work? What can I try next?” So try something new and different. When you succeed, it will build your confidence. If you continue to be afraid to try new things, you’ll be stuck in that vicious cycle.
4. Denounce perfectionism.
There is nothing positive about being a perfectionist. Perfectionism is based in fear. People are perfectionists because they are afraid that others won’t like them if they aren’t perfect or don’t do things perfectly. They’re afraid of criticism. Start by being concerned about how you think about yourself, not how others think about you.
5. Trust your capabilities and your potential.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I started playing the ukulele less than four years ago, having never played a string instrument before. I was surrounded by my husband and my then 14-year-old daughter, both of who are amazing multi-instrumentalists who can play any instrument they pick up. My daughter used to laugh at me as I struggled to play bar chords, saying, “Yeah, Mom, its really tough playing a bar chord on four nylon strings! Try doing it on six metal ones!” I didn’t let that stop me. I kept at it, loving the challenge and the fun of being able to make music. While I may never be as good as they are, I’m competent enough to be in a band and now play both ukulele and bass guitar.
I experienced what E.E. Cummings described. “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
6. Stop comparing yourself to others
Will I ever be able to play an instrument as well as my husband or daughter? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. I just compare myself to where I was four years ago. If you compare yourself to someone you think is better, it only makes you feel bad about yourself. And what is the point of comparing yourself to someone who you think isn’t as good as you? That is narcissistic and a pretty shallow victory.
Okay, I know I’ve put a bunch of quotes in this post, but allow me this last one from Andy Warhol. He said, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Only you are responsible for your confidence. No one can give it to you or take it away. It all depends on how you think about yourself. If you need help looking at your thoughts and coming up with a way of thinking that will serve you better, give coaching a try. Sign up for a free, no pressure-no obligation mini coaching session by clicking HERE.