“Your business in life is, presumably, to achieve success. To be successful, you must find peace of mind, acquire the material needs of life and, above all, attain happiness. All of these evidences of success begin in the form of thought impulses. You may control your own mind; you have the power to feed it whatever thought impulses you choose. With this privilege goes also the responsibility of using it constructively. You are the master of your own earthly destiny just as surely as you have the power to control your own thoughts. You may influence, direct and eventually control your own environment, making your life what you want it to be. On the other hand, you may neglect to exercise the privilege that is yours- to make your life to order, thus casting yourself upon the broad sea of “circumstances” where you will be tossed hither yon, like a chip on the waves of the ocean.” -Think and Grow Rich
I usually have an entire array of topics I choose to write about and they are all important to me, but I also would like to take into consideration what’s important to you, the reader. It seems that a lot of people out there are interested in self-confidence and how to gain more of it.
Self-confidence is an interesting subject. I have a lot to say about it based on my own experience in developing more for myself and from all the reading I’ve done on the topic. Let me start out by defining self-confidence as a strong belief and trust in yourself and your abilities, having positive expectations based on your knowledge of who you are, and how you expect others to react to you. Having faith in yourself and believing in who you are, and your ability to achieve what you want in life.
Where does self-confidence come from? It comes from your beliefs about yourself. Your construct of identity and what you believe, are strengthened by reference experiences. Let me quickly discuss how the mind works when it comes to beliefs since it is completely relevant and will be applicable to gaining self-confidence.
If you have a belief, no matter what it may be, your mind is going to constantly be scanning for evidence to support that belief and creating blind spots to anything that may contradict it. Lets say you believe that you’re physically attractive. (Looks are subjective and different people find different characteristics to be attractive so this statement is a generalization). None the less you believe yourself to be attractive so you interpret your day to day experiences through this lens.
So you unknowingly touched a freshly painted surface, then proceeded to rub your face with the wet paint, but you were in such a hurry you did not notice. Now you’re walking around a busy city and you notice that everyone is staring at you. Based on your belief that you are attractive, you are going to apply meaning to this. The meaning you apply is, all the members of the opposite sex are staring because you look good and they’re interested. And those of the same sex, they’re just noticing this too and are probably jealous. In reality they’re staring because you have paint all over your face. Your mind interprets things in a way to reinforce and strengthen your beliefs.
The same can apply to a negative belief of someone who believe themselves to be unattractive. This is just an example and an over simplification but the principle remains. Not only will you interpret current events to validate your beliefs, but your mind will also scan through your memory and try to identify events from the past that support this belief, while blocking out events that would present evidence that oppose your beliefs.
Finally, your beliefs about yourself tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Again, going with the above example, if you believe yourself to be attractive and you are confident in your belief, then you will act in a way that will lead people to be attracted to you. If you believe yourself to be unattractive, regardless of whether or not there’s any truth behind this belief, you will act shy, insecure, avoidant, you won’t express yourself openly, you are more likely to be in a negative state, less likely to smile and this will lead to people treating you like you are unattractive, validating your initial belief about yourself. Every time a belief is validated it becomes stronger.
It is very possible for someone who is not particularly attractive to learn to behave in a way that attractive people typically behave. If their conviction about them self is stronger than the person they’re interacting with’s belief about their social value, they can actually make them feel that they should be attracted to them, even though they weren’t based on exhibiting the appropriate behavioral cues. This is based on the concept that the person with the strongest reality wins. People are always looking to see how sure you are of yourself when you’re speaking, and how others react to you. If you are totally congruent with what you are saying and you seem to believe in what you’re saying more so than what the person who’s listening believes in their own ideas, they will conform to what you believe.
This is why it’s important to know who you are and to trust in your own first hand experience over all else. If you don’t have self-confidence you are easy to manipulate, persuade, and control. You teach others how to treat you. If you act weak, uncomfortable, or nervous, people will likely pick up on this and treat you like you are lower status than they are. If you act confident, if you believe in yourself, if you are unreactive to those you are interacting with, people will view you as higher status and treat you accordingly. (Unreactive, meaning you don’t react emotionally to what they say about you because you know who you are and their opinion of you means nothing.)
Most of this takes place on a subconscious level through sub-communication channels such as your body language, vocal tonality, eye contact, and demeanor. When you are truly confident all these things will be in alignment and congruent to your beliefs. If you try to fake it, it will not work because you will be incongruent and you will broadcast this through your sub communication channels.
A lot of what I’ve discussed has involved social interaction. Self-confidence doesn’t strictly apply to social interaction, but social interaction is a great way to gauge your level of self-confidence. If you are confident you are comfortable interacting with anyone because you have a strong core belief in who you are. You have your own set of values, which are not dictated to you by anything external. For example, society values physically attractive women. If you conform to society’s standards of value, you may feel unworthy and fearful when you have to interact with a gorgeous woman.
If you have your own set of values, with depth to them, unlike something completely superficial like looks, you will acknowledge her beauty, but see if for what it is. Just something superficial. She’s still just a person. Good looks don’t equate to intelligence and are no way to calibrate whether or not someone is a good person. If you have your own values you won’t react to someone simply because they look good.
You’re reaction will be ok, this person is very attractive, so what? It’s not like you haven’t seen an attractive person before and you should not treat them any different than anyone else you’ve just met. You get to know them and what they’re about, then decide whether or not you want anything to do with them. This is a widespread issue among men in modern society.
The most attractive women are given so much status based on their looks alone. A doctor who’s saved hundreds of lives and has accomplished more than most people can dream of in life can be intimidated by a 23 year old girl with no education, all kinds of emotional problems, and low intelligence who just happens to fit societies definition of what’s physically attractive, IF he conforms to a set of social conditioned values as opposed to deciding for himself what he truly values.
An attractive person should be just another person. Physical attraction has no correlation to compatibility. It should simply be interpreted as interest, and that interest should lead to an attempt to get to know somebody. Plus, personality will change the way you perceive someone once you get to know them. If someone appears to be physically attractive but you get to know them and they’re a terrible person, all of a sudden your perception of their looks will change. The same goes for the opposite. You may meet someone and not feel any attraction to them initially, but if they have an amazing personality, once you get to know them your perception of them can change.
A lot of what I’ve talked about so far has been to give you a logical understanding of how self-confidence works. It starts with your beliefs and is always being sub-communicated to those you are interacting with, so interactions can be a good way to calibrate your current level of confidence. Also, you need to know what you value and avoid becoming saturated with a set of socially conditioned values, which tend to be superficial, unfulfilling, and often times irrational.
When you are confident you are free to act through your own intentions. You have no limitations; no fears. You are present to the moment and not caught up in self-absorbed thought loops. Overly active internal dialog and self-monitoring are symptoms of low levels of self-confidence. If you believe in yourself, you trust yourself to the point where you don’t worry about such trivial things, and you free your consciousness to perform at your highest potential. You cannot accomplish this when you’re wasting energy and focusing on self-absorbed thought processes.
To gain self-confidence you need to consciously identify your beliefs about who you are, where you stand, and what you value. If you have negative beliefs in this category that are causing you to lack confidence you need to identify them and correct them. Replace them with positive, empowering beliefs. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. When you challenge yourself and rise to the occasion you will be creating reference experience for your mind to reinforce empowering beliefs about what you’re capable of. Experience breeds competence, which breeds confidence.
Realize that most of your fears and limiting beliefs are purely emotional and often times irrational. You can do anything if you just give yourself permission to. Get out of your own way and allow yourself to be the person you always wanted to be and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. You need to value your own opinion about yourself above what anyone else thinks of you. Often times peoples opinions of you are based upon a reflection of themselves. If they view you negatively, they’re probably only projecting their own negative characteristics onto you. If you live your values and have positive intentions then there’s no reason for anyone not to like you and if they don’t, that’s their problem, not yours.
By viewing everything logically and objectively you will start having the same realizations I’ve mentioned above and your perspective will be permanently altered. All the petty little concerns that stifled you and repressed you from expressing yourself freely will disappear, leaving you to be the person you were meant to be, with full self-confidence leading to sustainable happiness.
Choose to have faith in yourself. Choose to see the good in yourself. Expect others to see the best in you and don’t let anything hold you back in life. If you can do these few simple things, in time you will be self-confident, and it will change your life. There are no limits in life and your level of confidence can continue to grow as long as you have an interest in improving it.
Identify your values and LIVE THEM every day. If you know what’s good and continue to work towards that every day of your life, you should be confident in who you are and what you stand for. Know your values and live them. Not someone elses values, but your own. Be confident in your own mind, who you are, and what you stand for. If your intentions are positive and you’re working towards becoming the person you’d ideally want to be, you should be able to draw confidence from this alone, realizing that your objective is a constructive one.
I hope this helps put things into perspective. Again, it all comes down to you and your own decision of how to use your mind. The thoughts you feed your mind create your reality. Feed it positive thoughts and believe in who you are.
Note: For more on your identity and how that impacts your level of confidence check out SoLongMediocrity. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read here please connect with me on both facebook, and twitter if you haven’t already.by