What is confidence anyway?
The Webster definition of confidence is a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. In other words, shaping our belief around our ability to achieve future success, in essence, is to build confidence. The trick is that our own capacity to envision a positive outcome, is strongly tied to how we relate to all the past experiences we’ve had. Even if these experiences of yesterday are not directly related to the things we hope to achieve tomorrow, we will still bring these past experiences as feeling tones about our future. That’s why confidence builds on itself – the more I succeed at things, the more I am capable of believing I will continue to succeed. Unfortunately, the same is true in reverse, the more I stumble and fall, the more I will lack the confidence to grow and achieve.
Exceptions to this rule are seen when the relationship we hold about our past experiences change. I would become increasingly more confident if I could shift my perception of past experiences, especially the ones I consider to be ‘failures’ or ‘disappointments’ such that the version of the story I tell about them carries a neutral, or positive feeling tone.
Because replacing old and familiar beliefs is much harder than creating a new belief, to build confidence requires strategic steps that are not automatic.
First, we need to be aware that our perception of past experiences are shaping and coloring our present condition, which in turn is shaping and coloring our future. It is important to recognize all stories we tell about past experiences, particularly those in which we resent something or someone, or feel unworthy. If I have suffered from a businesses betrayal, and I relate to that experience as a betrayal than I may resent those who broke their promises. I may also feel that I deserved the betrayal because there is something wrong with me, or I did not meet the expectations placed on my position. These two feeling tones, resentment and guilt are powerful confidence killers; they will, if unchecked, prevent me from seeing my future-self as someone who is capable of achieving success.
Second, we need to revert the stories around this past experiences such that we acknowledge the facts and then construct a better view on the event. Using the business betrayal as an example, I can state the fact – promises were broken, without adding all the extra ‘opinion’ on the matter. And then, I can look at the event from a more global view and see that it lead me to better things.
Third, whenever situations arise, we must stop any reactionary patterns that will lead to the self-sabotaging of future opportunities. This is key – confidence, as mentioned, is built upon confidence, so we must take the risk to see things, including ourselves, in a whole new perspective, so that we move forward confidently in the direction of our desires.
Of course, there is a lot more to confidence than this, including being in integrity with ourselves and others. The less lies we tell, to ourselves and anyone else, the less hiding and protecting we need to do. That, in turn, means we can be authentic and spend our energy growing and creating, rather than running away in fear of being ‘caught on our lies’. Authenticity takes courage – showing up everyday as ourselves is a work of a lifetime, and courage is a key ingredient to confidence. Asking ourselves whether we are honoring our words, to our own commitments and the commitments we make with others, and taking that seriously, creates a solid foundation from which we can build a life that is in alignments with our truth. The more we live within this truth, the more we are confident in our abilities to stand on our two feet if we stumble and fall. Integrity is a necessary foundation for confidence to exist. Striving for a life of integrity is the surest way to build the future memories of ourselves achieving and succeeding.