A few weeks ago, I contacted Peter (the guy who runs this blog) about a book I’ve been writing for the last couple of months. It’s called Unleash Your Confidence and it deals with… (shock, horror!)… building confidence.
I thought Peter might like the book. And he did. In fact, he liked it so much, he asked me if I could write a guest post for you, sharing some of the material from the book.
At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to Unleash Your Confidence, in case you want to know more.
But for now, read on below to find out why so many people struggle with confidence, how to approach building it, and to learn a specific technique that you can use immediately!
What is confidence, exactly?
I’m a big believer in digging into the core of every issue and uprooting the whole problem, instead of using quick-fix techniques to cover it up.
And when it comes to confidence, there’s an awful lot of misconceptions going around. So let’s clear those up before we get to specific techniques for building confidence.
Often, I get people telling me that they’re just not a confident sort of person. After which the conversation usually follows like this:
“So you’re not really a confident sort of person?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Are you sure?”
The problem isn’t that they’re not a confident person. They just tap into their confidence in the wrong kind of situations. In fact, they’re very confident about the fact that they’re not a confident sort of person!
You already have all the resources of confidence within you. It’s just about learning to unleash them in any situation you want.
To understand, answer the following questions:
- Do you feel confident about tying your shoelaces?
- Do you feel confident about reading an english text?
- Do you feel confident about talking to your friends?
Chances are, you never even think about that. You’re completely confident about those situations, and so it seems natural to you. That’s what true confidence feels like.
And you know what the great thing is? Confidence is just a mental state. It’s not some kind of mysterious energy that you have to laboriously build up. And as the examples above show, you already know exactly what it’s like to be confident!
Now the question is, how do you go about entering that mental state in any situation you want?
I’ll get to that in a second. But first, I want to explain why so many people struggle with confidence…
Why most people struggle with confidence
When you struggle with confidence, it essentially comes down down to a miscommunication between your conscious and unconscious minds.
Your unconscious mind is designed to help you survive. And part of that is keeping you safe from danger. Unfortunately, the type of danger you face has changed rapidly in the last few thousand years, and your mind’s programming simply hasn’t been able to keep up.
So while your mind keeps you safe from doing handstands at the edges of tall buildings, or tickling sleeping lions, that same debilitating fear response that basically means “Get out of here! It’s a threat to your life!” gets triggered by completely risk-free things too. Like approaching someone you find attractive, or public speaking.
Now, in an ideal world, you would just tell your unconscious “Hey, this situation is actually perfectly safe. Can you stop the fear response and make me feel unstoppably confident?”
And your subconscious would say “Okay!”
Meanwhile, back in the real world, no matter how much you’re convinced that something is safe on a logical level, unless you get the point across to your unconscious, fear will stop you dead in your tracks.
Luckily, there are ways to communicate with your unconscious. For example…
One way to communicate with your unconscious clearly – mental movies
While your unconscious mind doesn’t respond to logic, it responds very readily to mental movies. In fact, let’s try that right now so you see what I’m talking about:
Imagine that you’ve been invited to a party. You’re still deciding whether or not you will go.
First, imagine standing awkwardly in a corner, surrounded by people you don’t know and have nothing in common with. Your least favourite type of music is playing way too loud in the background. How much do you want to go to the party, on a scale from 1 to 10?
Now instead imagine standing there comfortably, surrounded by people who are interested in spending time with you. Your favourite type of music comes on in the background at just the right volume. How much do you want to go to the party now?
Go ahead, do the exercise now.
Did you feel a difference there?
If you felt any difference at all, you can see how the images you make in your head affect your decisions. Even this simple 30-second exercise changed how you felt about going to a friend’s party. The situation was the same in both cases, but your mental movie of the situation determined how you felt about it.
The interesting thing is, you associate a mental movie with every situation you think about. You just probably aren’t consciously aware of it.
Now, the process of tweaking your mental movies is quite involved, so I won’t be able to give you the full details in just this one blog post. In fact, it would take another one or two posts of the same length as this one just to explain this process fully. (And that covers just one chapter of Unleash Your Confidence.)
However, I’m sharing this because just being aware of the fact that you have mental movies associated with every scary situation will go a long way towards helping you unleash your confidence in those situations.
No worries though. There are simpler ways to unleash your confidence (although not as powerful and universal). And here’s one just for you:
Unleash your confidence through gradual action
The easiest concept for building confidence to understand without long explanations is taking gradual action.
In essence, you think about the final situation you want to be comfortable with. Let’s say giving an inspiring, informative speech in front of several hundred business people.
If that’s too scary for you at the moment, you can build up to it by doing something similar, but not as scary. Maybe speaking in front of a few dozen people.
If that’s still too scary, you could try joining a local Toastmasters club, where you will find people who are excited and happy to listen to you and give you feedback, no matter what level of public speaking you’re at. Or even just ask a few of your friends to get together sometime so you can stand up in front of them and give a short speech on a topic you find interesting.
If you imagine your comfort zone like a circle and the goal you’re trying to reach as a distant point, this process puts a bunch of intermediate points along the way. Then, instead of making the huge leap right to your end goal, you simply venture out a little bit to the first intermediate goal. Once your comfort zone grows to accommodate that point, you venture out a little bit further. And so on, until you reach your end goal in a series of little steps.
I hope you find this little technique useful!
If you want to know more about the book, just click here – Unleash Your Confidence.
Photo by Mark Sebastian