Self-confidence is a skillset we need to build up and practice
We often think that self-confidence is something that we either have or don’t have.
But confidence is not something that we are born with, it’s not a special talent or gift.
In fact, confidence is an emotion and – as all our emotions – self-confidence is created by our thinking:
The quality and level of our self-confidence depends on our mind – on our thoughts about our capabilities and on our trust in ourselves, and in our willingness to do what we want to do – whatever the consequences of our actions might be.
Where do trustful thoughts about ourselves come from?
It’s easy to think confident thoughts when we have already accomplished something.
And we usually think that we feel confident because we have done it so often, because we have the experience of doing it.
But confidence doesn’t come from doing something many times. It’s just easier to think the thought, ‘I can do that’, when we have done it many times.
Whenever we want to do something we have never done before, we need to feel confident about our ability to do it before we start doing it.
And that’s not so easy most of the time.
We all know from our own experience in different areas of our lives that a lack of self-confidence can keep us from taking action, from doing what we want to do and from trying new things.
So how can we deliberately create the thought, ‘I can do that’, and then feel confident before we do it?
The main secret to self-confidence is our willingness to experience any emotion.
As human beings we are mostly afraid of the emotion that we expect to feel if we fail.
We are afraid that if we take action and fail at what we are trying to do, we will feel inadequate, humiliated, embarrassed, defeated, … .
If we deliberately decide to be willing to experience any emotion, if we are getting good at feeling any feeling, then we will have self-confidence in everything we do.
The worst that can happen is a negative feeling – and as soon as we know that we can handle any negative feelings, we no longer lack self-confidence.
Two ways to increase our self-confidence
Strategy 1 – Practicing self-confidence producing thoughts
This strategy is quite simple and it can easily be integrated in our daily life.
We first create a list of helpful thoughts – thoughts that support confidence-feelings.
And then we just practice thinking them daily – and particularly when we feel hesitant to take action and do something new.
- What others think about me is 100% about them, it has nothing to do with me.
- Fear is no big deal.
- The worst that can happen is a feeling. I am good at feeling any feeling.
- Failure earns success. The more I fail, the faster I’ll succeed.
- The better I fail, the more confident I become.
- What I make it mean is the worst that can happen.
- I am willing to do the stuff I am scared of. Again and again.
- Self-confidence is a skill. I am determined to become an expert at feeling self-confident.
- I am willing to experience discomfort consistently in order to be more self-confident.
- (Add thoughts that will help you to feel more confident.)
Strategy 2 – Experiencing failure, on purpose
The ‘Dare of the Day’ Exercise (Source: The Life Coach School)
This exercise helps us getting good at doing things that we are scared of because we fear the negative feelings that might come up while we are doing those things or if we fail at finishing them successfully.
The ‘Dare of the Day’ is a challenging exercise but it can also be a lot of fun. And it’s a confidence booster.
Step 1 – Commit yourself to do a ‘Dare of the day’, each day, for 30 days, starting today.
Step 2 – Create a list of ‘Dares of the day’.
Do some brainstorming and write down all the things – big and small – that you don’t feel comfortable doing:
- Things that you are scared to do for some reason.
- Things that you always wanted to do but never did (because of fear of failure?).
- Things that you never considered to do but that might be interesting and offering new experiences and results in your life.
- Things that allow you to experiment with uncomfortable feelings.
- Things that are just fun – but a bit scary.
- Go up to a stranger and ask for something.
- Give someone a compliment who doesn’t expect it.
- Ask for the day off.
- Say no when the other person expects a yes.
- Say yes when the other person expects a no.
- Ask for a pay raise, or a promotion.
- Speak in public.
- Smile at a grumpy stranger.
- Wear a sexy outfit.
- Cry in public if you feel like crying.
- Laugh hysterically in public if you feel like laughing.
- Ask for a discount.
- Go on a blind date.
- Ask someone a huge favour.
- Offer your help to a stranger.
- Give your unfriendly neighbour some flowers.
- Book your first golf lesson.
- Get up an hour earlier.
- Come late to an important meeting.
- Don’t apologize when you are late.
- Call a family member you haven’t talked to for a long time.
- Write a letter to apologize for something you feel bad about.
- Get a new haircut.
- Ask your dinner guests to go when you are tired.
- … (Add all the things that scare you – they will help you to grow.)
Play around with as many ideas as possible. You can add to your list whenever new ideas come up.
“The more outrageous your dare, the more self-confident you will be. The point is to get really good at doing scary things.” (Brooke Castillo)
Step 3 – Each morning, you pick your ‘Dare of the Day’ for that day. And then you do it.
And learn from it.
The best way to do so is to write about it before and after: Why is this thing a dare for you? What are you thinking and feeling before your do it? What are your thoughts and feelings after you did it?
Step 4 – Don’t miss a day for 30 days in a row.
And don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the process of getting more and more confident. Each ‘Dare of the Day’ will make you stronger.
Tip – You could share this exercise with a family member or friend. Having an accountability partner can help you ‘dare the dares’. And it’s also fun to share your experiences and learn from them together.
Now it’s your turn:
What’s your ‘Dare of the Day’ – today?