Confidence: a simple word that can have complex implications on our life. It impacts how we treat others, how others treat us, and ultimately how we treat ourselves. It influences the way we interact with the world, opportunities we do or do not take, our goals and what we believe is possible for our life. Confidence, or our lack thereof, shows up in every aspect of our life.
So where does confidence come from and how can we gain more of it? People often confuse confidence and self-esteem. Confidence is derived from numerous sources, such as our experiences in crucial situations, our genetics and appearance, our performance on various tasks, the messages we receive from peers and family, etc. While self-esteem exists in an internal manner, confidence manifests itself externally. However, the two certainly impact one another as low self-esteem is often linked to low confidence levels and vice versa. The wonderful news is that confidence is fluid and constantly evolving. It has the ability to increase or decrease by the day, even by the second. This is because we have the power and ability to control our confidence at any moment. That’s right. We hold the power to determine our confidence level.
1. POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Unsurprisingly, the way we talk to ourselves has a prevailing effect on our confidence levels. In fact, research shows that people who practice positive self-talk have a greater ability to solve problems, overcome hardships, and reduce levels of stress and anxiety. They also report living a higher quality of life than their counterparts who are more prone to practice negative self-talk.
To practice positive self-talk, you must first be consciously aware of the inner dialogue you create about yourself. This means monitoring your thoughts as they pop into your mind and taking control of them. If you are creating thoughts that say you are not good enough, unworthy, stupid, unattractive, or the millions of other hateful things we tell ourselves, shut them down immediately. They will only cause you harm and have no place in a healthy mindset. Instead, shift the dialogue, either out loud or internally, to be uplifting and optimistic. For example, when you are facing a new challenge and questioning your ability to succeed, instead of telling yourself “I have no idea what I am doing and am going to fail,” say this: “I have overcome many challenges in the past and will find a way to succeed right now.” It is all about changing the negatives to positives.
We use the tool of visualization every time we daydream, imagine the future, or think about our behavior without actually engaging in the action. Visualization is simply our imagination’s collection of mental images. Visualization is a critical tool for many athletes and professionals who need to perform. For example, every time a baseball pitcher steps up to the plate, he visualizes the execution of the ball into the catcher’s mitt. A Formula One driver visualizes his hands cutting the wheel tightly around turns before he ever steps onto the track. Research reveals that by simply visualizing a specific behavior or outcome, we increase the probability that it actually occurs.
So, the next time you are about to step into a stressful job interview or onto the field for an imperative game, remember to visualize yourself executing every behavior required for success. Create a mental play reel of yourself answering every question in the interview with a smooth and confident dialect. Imagine your posture, your hand gestures, your facial expressions just as you want them to occur in real life. If you can imagine yourself successful in each action, your confidence during the actual performance will be much higher than had you visualized failure or not prepared at all.