Short version of this post:
True confidence comes from doing. Period. It comes from you stepping out there, trying something new, and finding that you can do it well.
Here’s the long answer:
What we don’t see when we compare ourselves to others is the set of experiences (hard work, encouragement, relative skills at a particular point in time) that has given someone else the confidence THEY have. All we see is ourselves at ground zero, and we’re looking up at the others at the top of the mountain already wondering how they got there. They must have something we don’t (I wrote a bit more on this in my first post of 2016)
When we start off in life, we’re all the same… All helpless little baby blobs – unable to speak, walk, feed ourselves, or even reliably hold up our own heads. Somehow, over time, we’ve become these amazingly intelligent beings. Every one of us is a miracle of life, supremely unique in our perspective, with a truly unlimited potential that is all our own.
During our development, we’ve absorbed innumerable things that have shaped our beliefs. Years of silently observing our parents, who in our earliest lives are the gods of our worlds. We’ve possibly interacted with siblings, other relatives, peers. We’ve challenged them all on various occasions and learned the ‘limits’ in terms of what we can do and what we cannot. At times we received encouragement (which we inherently LOVE) and we’ve been driven to chase after more of it…loving the recognition so much that we were ok with stepping out into the unknown. Other times we’ve been chastised for doing something. Some of us may have done something we thought was amazing only to have the accomplishment fall on deaf ears. We’ve collected a number of painful and humiliating experiences that our ego aggressively avoids.
And now here we stand as adults – complete with our full, unique set of custom-made beliefs that is all our own.
And so the question is, “How can I have more confidence?”
Confidence, most simply put, is the belief that you can do something well. So what you’re really asking is “How can I create a belief in myself that I can do something well?”
It may be something you have never tried, or something where you tried, but have already failed.
Much like walking when you were a baby.
When you were a baby, you didn’t NEED confidence to try again. You wanted to stand up, and you fell. You didn’t care. If anything, your standing and falling was met with an overwhelming amount of stimulating attention! You couldn’t wait to try (and fail) again! So you did. You fell over and over and over and over. You didn’t think at all about what other babies were doing. If anything, seeing older children doing something triggered learning by modeling in you. And finally, you made the first step.. then the second. And eventually you were walking without even trying!
As we got older, things became a bit different. Some of the things we wanted to try were immensely dangerous, and some of us got hurt. Our parents had to ‘teach’ us and instill a certain amount of fear (less for some or more for others) in order for us to survive.
We went through some painful social experiences, where our innate desire to be part of a ‘tribe’ drives us to want to fit in and be accepted by others. We become a product of our particular surroundings, our peers, our social environment, our culture at large. We add to our own experienced limits by watching others, consciously and subconsciously learning from their successes and failures. Our very survival depends on this happening.
As far as nature is concerned, our survival is more important than our internal happiness.
Given that our entire lives have been involved in creating our limits, changing our deepest beliefs that have been etched in stone in the deepest recesses of our minds can be challenging.
Until it isn’t.
We all know of someone, or at least have heard of someone, that has gone through some kind of powerful transformation that shifted everything in their lives.
The reason this happens is that ALL of our internal limits and boundaries are tied together with the nearly unbreakable threads of our deepest beliefs.
When something happens in our lives causes us to question our deepest beliefs, it’s as though one of those binding threads has snapped. All the walls and boundaries held together by that thread begin to collapse and an immense world of possibility begins to open up for us.
So that’s the ‘easy’ way – only ‘easy’ because the ‘something’ that happens is usually some kind of traumatic life event that we are lucky to have survived.
So what do we do if we aren’t ‘lucky’ enough to experience a traumatic life-changing event?
We make a choice.
Choose to challenge your limits.
Challenge your beliefs.
Do not be limited by the beliefs of others, but instead continually expand your own boundaries.
Do not look upon others and see limits, but instead find and be inspired by what others have done and realize that they have shown that it is possible.
Choose to be inspired.
Choose to DO even when you’re not sure that you CAN.
You will fail, and then you will succeed.
And eventually you will truly appreciate that
Failure is merely a stepping stone on the path to success