Confidence used to seem like an illusion to me. I never felt like I had much confidence for most of my life but I definitely saw it in others and desperately wanted it for myself. I would see and read about how other people were living their dreams and doing some amazing things. And I always wished that I could have that kind of confidence to go after my own dreams and desires. A lot of the self-help knowledge and information out there talks about how confidence is something that you build. And the only you can gain more confidence is by taking action.
So that’s what I did, I started taking steps outside my comfort zone and literally pushing myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do (joining groups, networking with strangers, talking in front of groups, and putting myself out there). It was all incredibly draining, slow going, and not fun at all. It actually did very little in increasing my confidence even though I was taking some big steps and accomplishing things I had never done before.
This was frustrating to me because it felt like nothing was changing. Nothing really did change until I realized that confidence doesn’t come from taking action. It comes from the story you tell yourself about who you are.
My first awareness of this was during a session with my life coach. I was telling her about how I wanted to be someone who quits their job, goes exploring and lives joyfully doing what they want because they love it. But I said I’m not a risk taker and don’t have the confidence to do it.
That’s when she called me out and said what do you mean you’re not a risk taker. She then proceeded to list off several things I’ve done. Here are a few of them:
- I’ve traveled alone to several different countries
- I took a helicopter & hiked and ice climbed up and down a glacier
- I purchased a house
- I went rock wall climbing (even though I have a fear of falling)
- I kayak through huge ice chunks in a glacier ice field (the water was rising and so the giant chunks would turn over & potentially could knock you over or trap you under the freezing water)
My coach pointed out to me that these are incredibly risky things to do. Interestingly enough I never saw that way. It never even crossed my mind because I believed that I was not a risk taker. What we tell ourselves about who we are is so strong and powerful that our mind will literally block out any evidence that contradicts our story. This was definitely the case for me. There was the evidence and I couldn’t even see it. It was my story that was holding me back from feeling confident.
Confidence is a feeling and the only way to change our feelings is to change the thoughts and beliefs causing them. Taking action isn’t going to help us gain more confidence if we don’t change the story about who we are. So if you are looking to gain some more confidence here are few simple steps to get you started.
- Write out where in your life you would like to have more confidence around.
- Notice & write out the story you have about who you think are and why you think you’re not confident. (I’m not very good at this or I never finish anything)
- Do some searching in your life. Where have you felt confident? (even if it was only for a moment maybe you asked someone out, if you’ve done job interviews it took confidence to show up, you’ve asked for help that takes major confidence)
- What did you think about yourself when you felt confident in that area? Or what do you think someone who is confident thinks about themselves?
- Use those thoughts to start creating a new story.
- Start repeating your new story (this story should feel good) daily to yourself.
It’s been three years since I quit my job and went exploring to do what I want because I love it. I gained the confidence to do this because I changed my story of who I thought I was. The only reason we don’t feel confident is because we are holding and telling ourselves a contrary story in our minds which hinders us from seeing any possible evidence. Taking action will be pointless if we haven’t changed the story of who we are. So if we want to feel more confidence in our lives, then we have to start thinking and believing confidently.