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Confidence Part 1 - How it Works

by Michael Michel

You’re confident. You’re pumped. You’re ready!

This is the moment you’re finally going to make it happen… Yes!

And then it doesn’t. What gives? If it’s that important to you shouldn’t you go for it without fail?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had goals you’ve failed to fully dedicate yourself to. Or you’ve gone for them but at the first real difficulties you thought something like, “...maybe I should do something else?” and then shifted focus quicker than a twelve year old scrolling Tik-Tok.

I know we’ve all had that moment where we wanted to put ourselves out there for a promotion, or extend our feelings to someone we weren’t sure would reciprocate. And of course, there are those dreadful moments of presenting our work on a stage or in front of a room full of peers that has us fearing the worst results and judgements we can imagine.

In situations like these, many folks might suggest CONFIDENCE is missing.

In that case, wouldn’t it be great to have more of it?

 

My vote is yes (hand raised--and all my fingers are also hands)!

So...

What is Confidence?

The word gets tossed around a lot.

But for each individual its going to have a personalized interpretation. Typically, this personalization revolves around how they themselves ARE or ARE NOT confident. It may even have them bringing to mind others they identify as having confidence in abundance or lacking it completely.

Sometimes it’s small transgressions that cause confidence to trickle away over time, such as critical feedback from a manager at work, a kid in 3rd grade telling you you’re stupid, or a college professor explaining in red-pen detail how you’re work will never be good enough for you to make a living as a writer.

And sometimes what jerks the confidence-rug right out from under you are more notable incidents like being cheated on by a spouse, experiencing abuse from a loved one, or getting pantsed in front of one of your crushes.

Either way, slow or sudden, the internal damage is done and the results are likely either being expressed or worked on to this day.

I’ve worked with over a thousand people struggling with these issues, from kindergarteners to Fortune 300 CEOs as both a coach and counselor. I’ve got my own confidence story which I’ll save for another time, but just know I understand what’s it like to both have and not have confidence. It’s really important to me, so along with my business partner, I’ve designed a course around this very topic.

I’ve come to define confidence as:

“A state of being in which a person has complete certainty and trust in who they truly are and how they choose to express themselves.”

I believe with all my heart that people have inherent good to contribute to the world that creates a better and brighter future, both for them and those they care about. When they are more confident in the way I just described they get to realize that purpose quicker and with greater ease for the benefit of all.

The first step is to understand...

Why Confidence is Important

1) Maintaining confidence regardless of inevitable ups and downs is vital to success.

Whatever you’re after, be it love, a career change, or writing a book, it’s going to take more energy than you imagined. It’s one thing to have confidence when your passion for a goal lives in the place of intellectual dreamland and another thing to move it into a reality you’re making happen every day.

2) Success leads to confidence. Confidence leads to success.

This is a positive feedback loop that requires taking uncomfortable leaps--in other words, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. If you’re not willing, start asking yourself why (with compassion) so you can be ready sooner rather than later. Questions like: “What am I worried about, really?” or “What’s getting in the way of me being 100% committed to this?” or “Are my actions reflecting what’s true for me or what I'm afraid might happen?”

3) The more important something is to you, the more worry and self-doubts you’ll have about it--and that means confidence will be tougher to come by.

Sorry, but it’s true!

Nothing can quite get under your skin like someone or something you love. The things closest to our heart are often the most stressful.

There’s good news on the flip side of that though: the greater the fears you overcome, the less time you’ll spend entertaining them. Another positive feedback loop where the only way out is through!

Let’s break this down further...

What Makes Confidence Scarce: A Linear Spiral

Our mind operates in certain subconscious patterns that we’ve reinforced over years and years of stimuli and our responses to them.

Start to finish, this is the progression of how confidence starts, and then often, stops.

1). Who You Truly Are/What You Truly Want: This is where truth, passion, and vision make their home; the place where goals and desires are born and then seek to be expressed in the tangible world.

Let’s say, you're focusing on your career and wondering where to go next and suddenly you realize with inspiring certainty:

“I want to start my own business!”

Inevitably, once an exciting thought or idea hits, self-doubt naturally arises.

2). Self-Doubt: we imagine all the ways who we truly are isn’t actually true as well as how our goals and desires aren’t possible. It can be a loud voice screaming in your mind’s eye but more often it’s a quiet voice whispering in the shadows (and we’re not even aware it’s there holding us back).

Once the excitement settles, you think what if...

“I’m not smart enough.”

And once “I’m not smart enough,” gets rolling, you’re likely to begin stacking evidence against the once exciting prospect of starting a business.

It’s like those books about giving a mouse a cookie. Once "I'm not smart enough," is present, it’ll want some reasons to back out of what's important to you [to go with it]...

3) Result-Focused Worries: the results of success may be energizing but the worry-riddled results of failure can induce panic or even despair.

You might start to see normal obstacles as certainties. Or you may hyperfocus on a loss of time, money, energy, or perhaps the doom-laced notion that poor results validate something fundamentally wrong with you as a person.

“I’ll fail and just waste my time--because I’m not smart enough.”

Results are worrisome all on their own but when we start looking at them through the lens of our social circle, the fear and self-criticism of those results can get really amplified. And like the last two steps, it can drown out confidence fast.

4) Social Judgement: the fear of how we might be perceived by others based on our choices and the results we produce runs deep.

No greater example of this can be found than the deathly fear of public speaking common to so many. If self-doubt and worry about your results don’t set you back, the fear of judgement from friends, family and peers could do the trick.

 

“If I fail, I won’t be able to face my family. My mom was right when she said I should be more practical with my career.”


We pick up self-doubts, worries, and fear-based judgements from interpersonal dynamics with friends, family, and peers. Consider all of these unpleasant projections from others getting placed into a big bucket called, “Who I am not,” as you go through life.

It’s when we can stop looking for things to put in the “Who I’m not” bucket that we can say we’ve made real progress.

5) Who You Are Not: when we stack up all our self-doubts, our worries about results, and the fear of judgments from our social circles, we end up at Who We Are Not.

When we’re here, our confidence is all but gone. If you’ll remember our definition:

“A state of being in which a person has complete certainty and trust in who they truly are and how they choose to express themselves.”

“I’m not smart enough (to start my own business) so I’m not going to try.”

Remember that feedback loop I mentioned [confidence→ success and success→ confidence]? Well, this statement lends trust and certainty to the feedback loop of self-doubt rather than to who you truly are.

So...What Can You Do?

Answer this honestly: when you say no consistently to something that it would mean the world for you to accomplish, or at least start taking action on, are you listening to who you truly are or are you listening to your self-doubts and who you’re not?

Personally, I’m more interested in not only getting to know who I truly am more but in how to express it more consistently in a tangible way.

When I do this it brings peace and contentment to my life. I’m living from a place of purpose that’s going to contribute to others.

Now that you’ve had a glimpse of what confidence is, why it’s important, and how it becomes scarce, stay tuned for “Confidence Part 2 - Insecurity.” (coming soon). I’ll discuss: 1) the function insecurity serves, 2) how to notice when it’s no longer useful and 3) how to start changing it.

And, if you’re interested in learning more about taking steps to building long-lasting confidence, clink this link and hop on a call with me to see if working together might be the very thing you need.

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