Self-Confidence Is a Skill You Can Develop
People have the mistaken notion that someone either has or doesn’t have self-confidence. They believe you were either born with it or you had parents who instilled it within you by their encouragement and affirmation. Few people realize that self-confidence is also a skill you can develop if you have the determination to work at it. You can develop self-confidence if you will only begin a few simple strategies.
Begin with What You Can Do
I am reminded of my high school chemistry teacher. It was time for mid-term exams and, being the scared 17-year old students we were, we were terrified of failing our exams. After all, we knew that chemistry was difficult. We also knew that our teacher demanded excellence from us. What we didn’t realize was how much he wanted us to succeed and how much he wanted us to know we could succeed. No, he didn’t give us an easy exam anyone could pass. What he did was start us off with a question that any of use should know. I still remember it. “How many centimeters to an inch?” (The answer, by the way, is 2.54.) You could feel the self-confidence rising in the room as each person read and answered that question.
We asked him later why he started the test with such a simple question. He told us how he’d learned that starting off an exam with a question everyone should know broke through the fear that could prevent the student from accessing the knowledge locked up in their head. When we realized we could answer these first questions we would relax. The fear would dissolve, self-confidence would rise and he would learn what we really knew rather than discover what our fear would prevent us from recalling.
If you don’t think you have self-confidence, you need to realize that self-confidence is a matter of the mind. It has little to do with what your actual skills are. Every person knows at least someone who believes s/he is great at something but is actually mediocre. You can’t convince that person of their actual lack of ability because they believe with all their being they are good at what they do.
Practice What You Can Do and Add Affirmations and Emotion to Your Actions
Let’s say you play the guitar and would like to have the self-confidence to play it publicly, but your fears of people deriding you keep you from taking the risk. While you’re practicing your guitar, notice how your fingers easily make the chords. Each time you make an easy transition congratulate yourself. If you say to yourself, “Anyone could do that,” know that you are not telling the truth. If you walked down the street and asked the first hundred people if they knew how to play the guitar, how many would say “Yes”? You can do something only a small percentage of the people in the world can do. Affirm yourself every time you succeed while you are practicing.
Your next step is to play in front of a few people, family or friends. You might already to this. They might even tell you that you are good. What do you do with what they say? If you don’t have self-confidence, you most likely don’t believe them. Take a risk and believe them. Make their positive comments an affirmation for you that you repeat to yourself. Get in touch with your feelings of joy and delight as you play. Get in touch with what an emotional rush it would be to hear people hooting and hollering their delight when you play.
You may not play the guitar. Pick something you do well. It doesn’t matter what it is. Perhaps you’re one of the top scorers in a particular video game. Break down the skills and dexterity it takes to play video games. Tell yourself how good you are at each skill. Notice how that particular skill can be used in other areas of your life as well.
You will become self-confident when you notice and affirm what it is you do well. You simply need to want self-confidence more than you want to stay mired in self-doubt.