Self-confidence simply means having faith in your abilities. It is a belief that you have the required skills to successfully handle a particular situation. If you are sure about your ability to handle a certain life situation, then you will feel confident whenever you encounter that situation.
That’s all there is to self-confidence, yet people keep on complicating it and portraying it as a magical ability of the blessed few.
How do you develop faith in your ability to do something?
By doing it.
That’s the only way to develop self-confidence in anything.
For instance, if I ask you, “Are you confident enough to tie your shoelaces?”, you’d probably think, “What kind of a silly question is that?” because you’re pretty sure that you can tie shoelaces.
But why? Why are you confident that you can tie shoelaces?
It’s because you’ve done it successfully many times in the past. The belief, “I can tie shoelaces” is deeply ingrained in your mind.
Now, what if I asked someone, “Are you confident enough to speak in public?” knowing very well that they’ve never done that before? Of course, they’d reply with something like, “I’m not sure. No, I don’t think I can do that confidently.”
But why? Why do they doubt their public speaking ability?
It’s simply because they’ve hardly done it before and so the belief “I can give a presentation” hasn’t been ingrained into their psyche yet.
Self-confident in what?
If you tell me that you’re self-confident, the first question I’ll ask you will be, “in what?” Self-confidence, like many other traits, is not a general trait.
You aren’t either confident or un-confident but your confidence level varies depending on the tasks that you’re doing and the situations that you’re encountering.
For example, you may be super-confident about your knowledge of the latest gadgets but totally un-confident when it comes to interacting with people.
It is for this reason that our self-confidence levels are not usually constant but keep fluctuating as we face different life situations.
The only way to maintain a high level of self-confidence all the time is to either never come out of your comfort zone in which you feel very confident (e.g. a programmer sitting all day in front of his computer) or to develop skills in different life areas.
The more skills you develop in different life areas, the higher will be your average self-confidence level will be.
Your self-confidence will be determined by the types of beliefs that you have about yourself. So, in order to build self-confidence in any life area, all you need to do is change your beliefs in that life area.
If you lack self-confidence in a particular life area, it means that you have negative, limiting beliefs about that life area that you need to get rid of.
“I am dumb” “I can’t play basketball” “I can’t make friends” “I can’t speak to large groups of people” etc. are examples of negative, limiting beliefs.
Following are the 4 steps that you can follow to build self-confidence:
1) Identify the negative, limiting beliefs
Obviously, the process of getting rid of beliefs requires you to first identify what those beliefs are. This can be done by identifying the situations or tasks in which you don’t feel confident.
Instead of feeling bad that you lack confidence, congratulate yourself that you now have found an enemy that you’ll be seeking to defeat in the coming future!
2) Change your beliefs
In a previous post about subconscious programming, I said that the only sure-fire way to change your beliefs is to take actions that can replace those beliefs with the beliefs you want.
For example, if you want to get rid of the belief, “I’m no good at public speaking” then it can only be done by giving as many public speeches as you can till your subconscious is convinced that you can handle the task of public speaking.
3) Improve a bit with every new attempt
When you’re trying to change your beliefs it is crucial that you keep on improving with every new attempt. This means learning from your previous mistakes and avoiding them the next time. This way it won’t take much longer to develop the beliefs that you want.
Of course, the first speech that you give won’t be extraordinary and you’ll probably make lots of mistakes but the succeeding speeches should get better and better as you keep on learning from your mistakes.
The key is to keep on going without letting the inevitable failures to stop you. Know that making mistakes is an essential step in mastering any skill.
4) Keep practising
Beliefs need to get reinforced from time to time so that they become stronger and stronger. If nothing is done to reinforce them, then they may become weaker as time passes because our mind keeps on collecting new information and updating its belief system.
Every information that the mind receives either lets it form new beliefs or modify its pre-existing ones. So, in order to hold on to your self-confidence, you need to keep reinforcing your positive beliefs whenever you get the chance.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.