The Art of Confidence.
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Today i'm joining you to talk about confidence.
What is confidence? What does confidence mean to you?
Maybe you thought of being able to talk in front of others, maybe you thought about acting on the stage, maybe you thought about talking to a senior in your work, maybe you thought about asking that person you like out for a drink; these are all behaviours that we associate with being confident, but are in themselves not confidence.
Confidence is a state of mind. It is having the belief in yourself that you are able to do something, and subsequently being able to do it.
So what makes someone confident?
Again, i'm not talking about what actions a confident person would enact, i'm talking about that state of mind that enables them to do so. The truth is there is no such thing as the idealised confident person. Let me explain...
Many people go a long time wishing they could do something, but feel they cannot do so because they "lack confidence". This is itself a contradiction and a cycle that will not break itself. A consultant of mine once told me "do you think someday you'll wake up and magically have confidence?", this was a light bulb moment for myself. If we distil it down to this single concept:
Confidence is a learnt skill -
same as anything in life, you get better at something the more you do it.
The first time I took blood from a patient, my hand was shaking, my heart was racing, and I couldn't speak; thankfully I had a good nurse with me who reassured the patient and myself! The next 10 times I performed venepuncture were the same, but every time I became slightly better at finding a vein, inserting the needle, and changing over the blood bottles.
The better I became, the more confident I became; the more confident I became, the better I became. The same applies to everything in life.
Now lets change the situation; I used to have a crippling fear of heights. In essence I lacked confidence in being able to go to high places. Fearing that I would slip. Now it's a very different thing to have confidence in your mental ability opposed to your feet but essentially the same cognitive mechanisms in your brain.
In CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) we use graduated exposure to overcome phobias. My light bulb moment was to realise the same principle can be applied to confidence. Take again the example of my phobia of heights. I began with standing on a stool, when this no longer made me anxious I moved to climbing a ladder, then standing at a first floor window, then second floor, then on a bridge over a road, then over a river, finally I climbed a mountain in North Wales (I am still working on my distress tolerance on this one).
Can you see where I am going with this in reference to Confidence?
Just as you climb a mountain if you are scared of heights by sitting in your living room wishing you could climb a mountain, so you can't become confident by wishing you were.
If you want to gain confidence in any given area, you have to expose yourself to it.
First identify what you want, then take steps to make it happen.
Shall we work through another example?
Are you scared of job interviews? Do you get symptoms of anxiety leading up to them and in them?
They don't occur very often, so you could live your life fairly happily putting up with the anxiety of job interviews and then settling down afterwards. But this is an example so lets go with it!
Firstly, you could write yourself questions or take questions from an online database of interview questions.
When you are okay with reading these, you can proceed to answering questions by yourself. Then you can talk to family or friends.
Once you have conquered your nerves here, you could talk to an independent tutor, or for free apply to jobs you are not that bothered if you get them or not! And keep going to these until you can control your anxiety.
When you feel comfortable, start going for interview
s for jobs you would like, and keep going to these!
Every time you increase the pressure you might feel those nerves return! Do not be put off by this! It is completely natural and built into our genetics!
Eventually, you will find that job interviews are not anxiety provoking, they are just as normal as sitting down to dinner with your family or having a chat with friends.
So that's my little piece of advice on confidence. In short, you have to fake it (keep doing things that you are not confident in) until you make it (you will become confident in something over time and experience).
Good luck with all your endeavours,