This past week I have been pondering a few lessons I have learnt whilst helping people overcome fears & grow in confidence. Hopefully, they will help you on your journey too.
So, here goes …
What is Confidence?
I think it can be summed up in two little words: “I can.”
We all work or operate in different settings, face different problems & are affected in different ways but I think at the core is the fact that we are confident when our answer or attitude is simply “I can.”
This can be in the present tense i.e., I know that I can do it/say it now, & sometimes it is a future tense i.e., I know that with effort/practice/help, I will be able to do it. Confidence is often about ‘the familiar’. It’s when we encounter something new or uncharted that our confidence wains.
The opposite of confidence is fear, which is centred around the belief that “I can’t.”
So, if we can convert “I can’t” into “I can” we have overcome fear & developed confidence.
How Can We Develop Confidence?
To put it simply, in lots of different ways:
- It may simply the act of trying something we’re not sure about & realising we can do it
- It may be growing in confidence in one area so that we can try something in another.
- Sometimes we have to say “I can” to ourselves even when the evidence (as we try) tells us we can’t e.g., kicking a football accurately into a goal. In this case, “I will be able to” is a good phrase to use: we realise we may not be able to do it now but know that we will get there.
- It may be something that we have to work hard at.
- It may be something that we have to work at steadily over a long period of time.
- It may be a skill that we already have that needs refining & improving or it may be a skill that we need to learn from scratch.
Each of these will require a different approach to achieve our goal & some may involve the help of others such a friend, coach, mentor, colleague etc.
Notice that “I can” does NOT mean that we find it easy.
Very often, reaching the position when we can actually say “I can” feels like walking through Hades & involves a great deal of sweat. It can take a long time to reach a place where we know for ourselves that we can do it.
Growing in confidence is often a series of small steps that lead us towards a final goal.
A great way to grow in confidence is to have people around us who can encourage us, cheer us on, help us overcome the problems we face or simply help us to believe in our self.
One of the reasons I like to run confidence building workshops in a group is that people can watch others having a go. Reptiles & creepy crawlies are guaranteed to cause strong emotive reactions in some people. Many of those reactions are based upon stories, scripts or lies that we have either been fed or have fed ourselves.
A common misconception is that snakes are belligerent creatures that only want to do us harm. “Will it bite?” “Can it kill me?” “It’s looking at me!” are just a few of the statements I hear in almost every workshop I run. By allowing people with such fears to watch their friends or colleagues encounter a snake & survive without mortal injury is a great way to start the process of overcoming fears & developing the confidence to have a go for themself.
Confidence is critical factor in our success in life. Those who face problems & are prepared to overcome their fears & have a go are the ones who succeed & make progress. Those who step back & let their fears rule them are the ones who struggle to make forward movement &, from personal experience, are the ones who struggle to gain a sense of fulfilment in life.
Very often, the simple step of helping someone face a fear & overcome it is the catalyst that can literally change their life (& make a big difference to our own outlook too).
I spent too long listening to others tell me that ‘I couldn’t do it’ & believing them. I stagnated educationally & personally. Then one day (& I still have no idea why the thought came to me) I decided to have a go & suddenly realised that I could do it … so I tried other things & have been able to achieve so much more than I ever thought possible.
When I talk to people who knew me back then, they had no idea that I struggled with such a crippling lack of self-confidence. They seemed to think that I was very capable. I can only think that I listened to the negatives more than the positives. Perhaps that was because many of those who fed me the negatives were my ‘good friends’!
What I have learnt is that if I am to succeed I need to have a go.
I was recently asked by a drummer friend, who evidently trusted me, whether I would like to play percussion in the orchestra for Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. You have to understand that I do not sight-read music (although I do understand a lot of the basics) & also, as became apparent, this is not a straightforward musical score. I could have listened to the voices screaming in my head, “What if?” “It’s too hard!” It’s too scary!” “I can’t do it!” Instead, I chose to listen to the confidence of my friend, a very accomplished drummer & pit player who had stuck his neck on the line by recommending me. I am so thankfully that I chose the latter because by the end of the week I knew I had achieved something I would never have done on my own without the encouragement of others. They almost provided confidence for me until I could develop my own. It certainly was not easy: I practiced my parts for 10 -14 hours a day for the week before the rehearsal & shows. But it worked.
I hope my meanderings have helped to crystallise or clarify your own thoughts & encouraged you to step out & have a go. I would love to hear your experiences.
Thank you for reading & take care until next time …