Okay, you’re in a movie and you’re the scriptwriter. It’s one of those Bruce Willis Die Hard movies. Who the hell do you want to be and how many ways do you want to defeat the bad guy?
It’s natural to fantasize about being the hero. I do. Who doesn’t want that kind of confidence?
But – that kind of super confidence is just in the movies, right? So, it’s okay that you don’t have it. What is self-confidence? How do you get some of the juice and if there are real “Bruce’s” out there, how’d they get so lucky?
The positive side of self-confidence is an attitude and belief about not just who you are, but about your abilities to perform and produce in this life. “Can you meet the demands of a task.” It means you accept and trust yourself with a positive view. As well, knowing your strength and weaknesses give you a sense of control in your life; therefore, you make realistic goals and are not offended with criticism along with the ability to express yourself with assertive confidence.
Sounds pretty good, right?
The negative side turns a bit narcissistic after the self-esteem movement rode in a few decades ago with frivolous awards, empty praise, and superficial respect. It’s no surprise that the self-esteem movement did not produce a stronger community, combat inner-city violence, teen pregnancy, crime, or drug abuse. Nor did it transform average or failing students into super achievers.
On the contrary. Research now has determined that high self-esteem stemming from empty praise, endless trophies earned from literally no effort, produced a sense of lower self-worth. America turned millennials into entitled narcissists. Young people became more self-absorbed, they took less risk in fear of failure to meet the high expectations of the two big words, “self-confidence and self-esteem.”
If you’re a millennial, don’t take offense, the rest of the world before and after, have shared equally in the mistakes of the world. It’s not a matter of putting anyone down, it’s learning and moving forward that matters. Plus, there is nothing wrong with – boosting your self-esteem. In the right way!
So, back to the balances and a couple of facts. If you separate the negative from the positive, the outcome is simple, you need self-confidence and facts are, most people never fulfill their potential – but not for lack of intelligence, opportunity, or desire, but rather a lack of belief in themselves.
Without self-confidence, you will always fail to fulfill your potential.
IS SELF CONFIDENCE GENETIC?
The common thought is that confidence stems from a lucky gene inherited from the success pool. And without question, there is a biological basis to behavior. We do inherit the predisposition to be more positive, but you gotta love neuroscientists, they insist we are not a fixed blueprint. In other words, you may get the lucky optimistic genes, but there is no specific gene for confidence that will mess up your destiny. That’s all up to you, my friend.
Here’s what our beloved neuroscientists say, research into brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to literally change as a result of experience. We are able to rewire our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behavior at any age. Meaning, you can train yourself to become great at anything, hence, building confidence.
Think about it, if you’re afraid to write a book. You have no confidence in yourself. That’s logical. But what do you do, check your gene pool, or learn? Learn of course:
- Take a writing class.
- Join a writing guild.
- Pen and paper and experiment.
- Go back to school one way or another.
- The process is no different than college, a trade, growing up, or self-learning.
The more you practice the more confident you become. So, no more excuses for the gene idea. Brain plasticity is on your side and if the tall good-looking guy next to you appears to have it all, who cares, you have plenty of your own if you work for it.
THE KEY TO SELF CONFIDENCE
Okay back to the movie. Remember you’re the scriptwriter and the self-confidence of your character is established according to your discretion. Would you prefer writing this character as one who earned his respect, or would take a poor just anyone and endow him with Bruce Willis powers? Remember, one of the things that made the Die Hard movies so cool, was the fact he was a policeman, he had training, he earned his respect and showed the world what a brilliant determined, educated, and average man could do to save the world. Bruce is just fucking cool. Because he was self-made.
So, do you want to be Bruce? Or maybe Wonder Woman? A scientist who saves the world from disease, or Mother Teresa?
If your answer is no, imagine who it is you’d want to be, then dream. Redesign the image of your world and how you function in it.
Let’s say you chose Wonder Woman, the person you greatly admire who radiates beauty and determined bravery to save the world. You move faster than any woman alive. You are her! Hair blowing in the wind and all. She doesn’t even know how great she is, she just is! But again, she wasn’t given superficial trophies. She trained under her tribe to become that human feminine machine of greatness. She practiced over and over and over. Okay, yes, I know it’s a movie, but it’s a great example. We all loved Wonder Woman because she again was self-made!
The point of the story is not to become a fictitious movie star, but that what you think you’re capable of, actually influences your self-confidence. Now, keep in mind, we are not speaking about imagining leaping over buildings, and turning the self-confidence into another useless self-esteem movement. We need a balance.
We are talking about looking at your life. Who are you? What do you love? What do you want to be, become, advance in? When you figure out who you are, make a plan, and work towards that goal, your confidence will grow like Jack and Beanstalk!
FAILURE IS NORMAL
If you’ve built a reputation for failing, remember confidence can easily wax and wane throughout your life leaving you hesitant to step up, speak out, and risk again. That’s pretty normal. But don’t worry, you have the ability to overcome challenges. Remember your brain plasticity is ready to learn. You can rise above regardless of your age, trials, situation, and encounters. The secret is to be yourself. Most people try to be someone they are not – but that person in you is a superstar when ignited.
And as silly as it may sound you must start changing how you view yourself before you’re able to build your self-confidence. No one can be Bruce or Wonder Woman, but we can be like them in many ways. We can be the person we need to be, we want to be, that person who is special, strong, successful, and respected. It starts with imagining and viewing ourselves that way – but relies on earning it.
WHY SOME HAVE IT AND OTHERS DON’T
Have you ever wondered why some people have it and others don’t when both are worthy?
Self-confidence is a matter of practicing. In real life, if there is a Bruce Willis leaping off buildings and getting run over by trucks, blown up in buildings, or hanging on to the side of a plane while in the air, he certainly didn’t learn all that overnight? Come on! Is Wonder Woman able to be the perfect human with high-level confidence? Do you think anyone with brilliance just woke up to; no courage needed? No effort needed? No trials and tribulations? Of course not.
So, again, the first step, “how to build self confidence,” is to dream and imagine who it is you want to be. There is nothing in this ambiguous life that doesn’t start with dreaming. But keep an open mind, sometimes who we dream to be, ends up far from who we choose to be at the end of our journey. But the confidence it takes to dream and imagine will begin to be the thoughts that change your perceptions that turn into the actions that change your life.
Think about this. When you were a kid, who were the dreamers? The funny guys who said they were going to be the next president, that girl who was going to be a rocket scientist or famous actress. But what did they become?
Some of those kids you remember might have become exactly what they decided to be in that treehouse at age 10, and others became the total opposite of their dreamy notions. But most maintained the confidence regardless of what they became. Dreaming is powerful, entertaining, and necessary.
I was that girl with confidence, the one able to talk to the devil if need be. I was sure of my abilities and, yes, I was always dreaming. Who doesn’t want to have the wit and charm, along with the power to escape the handcuffs and knock the bad guy out like Bruce? I did. I didn’t grow up to be Bruce or Wonder Woman, but I was confident in everything I did. I believed in me.
How did I overcome challenges? By never allowing bad mental habits to harm me.
DOES SELF CONFIDENCE GUARANTEE SUCCESS?
I’ve known people who had no charm, no tact, and oozing with confidence – but who liked them. Not many! Their self-confidence was, however, on the roof. They rule the world they live in. So, self-confidence is not always what wins a person a happy life. But that perfect life without confidence is dark. You face more fear and anxiety, are less resilient to adversity and opposition, it lowers the quality of your life.
William James, a psychologist, and philosopher who established Harvard’s Psychology Department claimed over a century ago that most people do not fulfill their potential – but not from a lack of intelligence, opportunity, or resources, but rather a lack of self-confidence – the belief in themselves. As I wrote above.
Little has changed. Natural self-confidence follows those who put their foot forward in this world to learn, grow, educate for a win. Is it genetic? Is it taught?
Having high or low self-confidence is rarely related to your actual abilities, and mostly based on your perceptions of yourself. It’s been long established that the beliefs we hold of ourselves – true or otherwise – influence everything in our life. We all know that person who is brilliant, good looking, nice and all that, but has no self-confidence. Their perception is skewed and flawed towards themselves.
PRACTICING SOMETHING IS KEY TO BUILDING CONFIDENCE
I’ve used cooking classes as a way to demonstrate our mind’s ability to not only develop self-confidence in a matter of a few lessons but that your whole demeanor can change while practicing something you never thought possible. Cooking is a mystery to many, and producing cordon bleu for one who couldn’t boil water, has a remarkable effect in broadening the outlook.
Just as learning to cook an impossible dish can actually be done with confidence, the same can be done with most areas you aspire to. That includes talking to the opposite sex, publicly speaking, facing your boss, running the PTO, writing a book, being that confident person who others are drawn to.
STEP UP – SPEAK OUT – RISK TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES
It starts with dreaming, to act as if you already possess the confidence that you thought you’d never have. Practicing it in your mind and then implementing it into your life, is like any new an intimidating thing, you must step up – speak out – and risk.
When I put the soufflé into the oven and walk out of the kitchen. The fear of my students explodes, “Chef, how do we know when it’s done?” They panic not wanting to disappoint me and pull it out raw or overbaked, and it stuns them. But after a few short trials, they don’t care anymore.
When you stand in front of your peers to give a lecture, you fear you will fail as a fool. And maybe you have. Being that person who never buys into belittling your abilities, actually can happen by focusing on skills needed to propel you to the top of the stairs.
It boils down to defusing the self-doubt before it undermines you by risking. And not only, by believing in yourself, but understanding that it won’t matter if you’re perfect. That will come in time because you risk! Risk is the only way you’ll ever know when the soufflé is done.
And what is the actual failure rate? Low, because you have learned the best possible preventions, signs, and smells to know when it’s done. When you give your first lecture, you have practiced it over and over, you’ve researched bringing down the failure rate to low percentage.
I doubt myself and shouldn’t even have this job.
I don’t feel good about being chosen to for this role.
I want to be a writer but I am embarrassed to look foolish.
These thoughts above can be conquered with the right plan of action. It’s why large companies invest in coaches for their teams. Confidence is built.
FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
There are two kinds of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. The first, originates from within ourselves. The second, is derived from an outside source, for example, your spouse, a leader, teacher, family member, cause, religious belief, and so on.
Yes, motivation is huge in helping you learn confidence. Your boss wants to give you a raise but you’re not confident. He gives you three months to pull a project together because he/she believes in you. She’s a great boss by the way. Just saying. You work hard, you talk to your spouse, friends, they encourage you, perhaps you take a course in a crucial area needed and voila, you’ve brought up your self-confidence with education, support and effort! Now step up, speak out, and risk!
Each time you step up, your self-confidence will grow. You are becoming that person you always wanted to be.
WHAT DEMOTIVATES OUR SELF-CONFIDENCE? HOW TO BUILD ON SELF-CONFIDENCE:
The median of psychology points to the same old things, negativity, and how to gain self-trust to balance human conditions. Self-trust rids you of the nasty bad mental habits of things like self-serving beliefs of entitlement, jealously, envy, or just depression that serves to demotivates our own confidence.
Of course, I’m not talking about the normal healthy levels of wanting more in this life, it’s part of dreaming. But we all know when a good thing becomes toxic.
A positive focus can be brought down with one envious visit to Facebook, one thought of the neighbor’s new car, why he’s taller, she’s thinner, and so on.
How to build on self confidence: is how to trust yourself.
Comparing ourselves is about as useless as standing on a corner to get a medical degree. Life is shit and it’s truly not fair. It doesn’t reward every good deed equally. Pete couldn’t buy a new car due to loss of employment during COVID 19, Susan gained weight due to a thyroid failure, Family A couldn’t afford Harvard like Family B, because cancer took the life of a working parent. Life sucks.
And it’s oh so easy to look out the window and wonder why luck pays you no mind. But you can get through the unfair life by doing one thing. Choosing to be grateful for what you have. Trusting yourself. That what you have is enough and beautiful.
Pete didn’t get a new car but he’s alive, Family B’s children attended Stamford University and are successful, and Susan’s enjoying life regardless that she’s 20 pounds heavier and she’s confident to lose the weight taking a course in nutrition.
It’s all how you stop allowing the bad mental habits in and you are grateful rather and envious how to be yourself.
We lose and we win. And the only thing you need to judge is yourself. If there is beauty, it’s in what you have not what you don’t.
Take away these horrible meaningless worries associated with negative and self-serving beliefs of entitlement, jealously and envy, or just depression and you can survive anything. Take them away and your confidence rises when you don’t compare your progress with others.
Chose what you want to gain in this life by what you love. If you want to build your confidence in public speaking because it will get you a raise, but you really are not of the character that thrives looking down the throats of others, then walk away, my friend. Confidence is precious and cannot be wasted on things that don’t belong to you.
CONFIDENCE IS NATURAL
Confidence is a big bowl of life. And it’s okay if you’re not 100% confident in the massive content of that bowl. What’s important, is that the crucial part of your life is full of confidence as it’s a huge necessity. But it’s the natural part of you that means your success. The part connected to your true values and desires.
If from the age of six, you began reading the Wallstreet Journal, you naturally grow up to gain the confidence as that of Warren Buffett. If you like cars, you naturally learn about them and confidence follows like a hungry puppy.
So, how to become more confident is linked to what you do naturally. What are you an expert in? What you love or what has become your focus. Hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones who followed their passion.
Mix passion and knowledge together and self-confidence becomes you. It is the sexiest thing you will ever command. Confidence.
What’s natural has a strength that has a heart, where unnatural may be strong, but it doesn’t pump real blood.
Stand at the bottom of the Egyptian pyramids and look upward. You feel insignificant. Who can at that moment feel confident against the magnificent pyramid? Right? The ancient Egyptians build these structures to correlate to one of the stars in the constellation of Orion. I melt thinking of it. But regardless of the insignificant feeling, there is natural confidence in belonging to its history as a human being, in comprehending what the pyramids might mean perhaps. This is part of the bowl you don’t have to be 100% confident in if your not an archeologist. You simply respect the part you are not an expert in.
WHO DO WE REALLY WANT TO BE?
This is where I remind you of the comment at the beginning of the article “that what you think you want to be, sometimes turns out a bit different at the end of your journey.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it and done it; you think you want to be this or that, and once you begin learning what it takes, how it makes you feel, and so on, you might not want it after all.
The good news is, that a person who risks, finds truths about themselves. If what you tried resulted in disappointment, it’s very possible that another area was discovered in the process.
If you don’t know what you really want to be. That’s okay. Keep trying new things, who you are will come out. But not if you’re sitting binging Netflix.
There we go, I hope that sets your mind on a path of understanding. That you may look at your life and say, “Hey, I love flowers, and I want to be a botanist, so I’m going to learn every darn thing about the lovelies! Confidence, it goes best with a glass of what you really love to do. (:
The imagination is a powerful tool.
- Visualize yourself as you want to be.
- Strategize a plan: education – finances – time – and results.
- Decide and create a living document that specifies the plan above, one that can be changed or altered as you begin learning. Don’t file it away review it often as you progress. It’s amazing how reviewing your progress gives you confidence.
- Do one thing that scares you each week or day.
- Think over your journey each day, and journal the reasons why you will succeed. Why you failed, and what progress you’re making.
- Know that you will fail before you succeed, that you will make many mistakes.
- Set yourself up to win.
- Help someone else by teaching what you’re learning. Nothing builds confidence better than to teach.
- Make yourself a priority. That means taking time for yourself.
- Write down self-confidence quotes from people you admire. Quotes that boost your self-worth, self-esteem, and inspire you.
- Write your own quote and paste it on the refrigerator so you see it each morning.
- Remember a time when you were confident. Doesn’t matter if it was from childhood when you did something amazing. If you have a photograph of that time. Post it as well in visual sight of your daily activities.
Notes for more great reading:
- inlpcenter.org, The Four Cornerstones of High Self-Confidence
- Very Well Mind, How Experience Changes Brain Plasticity
- Research on the theory of power posing, IS THERE SUPPORT FOR THE CENTRAL POSTURAL FEEDBACK HYPOTHESES?
- Psychology Today, Jane Adams Ph.D.,What We Mean When We Talk About Entitlement