People look at you, you look down, up, left or right – never at them. It’s your turn to get up and do public speaking, you tap your heels together 3 times wishing there was no place like home? You’re asked for your opinion, but you want to be anywhere else and end up giving a glib answer, mumbling maybe even just running away? Someone gives you feedback about an idea you have or what you do, you think they’re criticising you – personally, not being interested in you? Does this happen to you regularly?
If you answer yes to one or more of them, you lack self-confidence!
But I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this and I’m not here to beat you up. I want to give you a guaranteed 60-second guide to getting and keeping self-confidence. But first, no, there’s no magic bullet, no special pill, and no super-amazing potion.
What Is It?
You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission for it. You don’t need to wait till a remarkable or pre-defined event happens in your life, like a birthday, promotion, raise, wedding, divorce, Hanukah or bah-mitzvah. You don’t need to go to university or wander the world (though the latter can help). No, the answer to self-confidence is simple, practical and it’s here and now – it’s so close to you you can literally smell it.
Not sure what I mean? Well, the next time that you go, alone, to the bathroom have a look in the mirror. There, standing before you, looking right back at you, there is the source of your self-confidence. But there’s a catch; they’re also the thief in the night stealing it from you, they’re the magnet that saps it from you and the warden that defines and locks the cell you think you’re in. That’s right – YOU.
No one else, not Oprah, not Dr Phil, not Tony Robbins, not the latest self-help book you’ve just bought – nothing, though they can all help. It’s you, you, YOU!
I’m only a 31yr old woman, but I’ve struggled with self-confidence for as long as I can remember. I always thought that when something went wrong, it was my fault, something I did or didn’t do, something I should have done, could have done, would liked to have done, had meant to do. Essentially, I thought I would ultimately be held responsible and to blame for it – even if I had nothing to do with it.
So if it’s big or small, I can empathise, I can understand. But irrespective of what the source is, or the perceived source is, it doesn’t matter.
What’s the Secret?
I tried exercise, alcohol, meditation, daily mantras, books, podcasts – you name it. But a few months ago, I stopped for a moment and noticed a few things in all the confident people I know. Irrespective of what they did, whether they were programmers, entrepreneurs, coaches, accountants, whatever, they all had a few things in common. Remarkably, they’re not really earth-shattering, but essential.
- They’re not confident all the time – but they get over it.
- They make mistakes – but that’s not the end of the world.
- They make a choice, whether they realise it or not, to be confident in themselves and their abilities.
Not all of them are conscious of it, but I have seen it again and again. Now I’m not saying that they always find it easy to get up in front of a crowd and speak, or to bungee jump from the tallest building, or skydive out of a plane – but you don’t necessarily have to do these things, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone – not even you.
Why 60 Seconds
Ok, 60 seconds is a bit relative. But I base the assertion on two things:
- The speed of thought
- The ability to rationalise
At any moment in time, you have the ability to make a choice, in that moment, in that second, about what you will or won’t do, will or won’t think, will or won’t see. We do it each and every moment of every day. So we can make the choice to be self-confident. The catch though is sticking to it.
That’s why I’ve put 60 seconds in. The main reason is that it gives you time to be conscious of it, appreciate it properly and then to do something about it.
You don’t have to be and aren’t going to be perfect in each and every moment. No one is and those that say they are lying to you. You have to make a choice, a choice to believe in the decisions you make, to believe in the worth of you as a person, to accept that you’re a human being, like all the rest of us, and from time to time, you make mistakes.
Not only is that ok, but it’s also normal and it’s the best way of learning and living. Give it a go! It’s going to be worth it. Make the choice and base your decisions on that choice. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it works.
I wholeheartedly encourage you, from here on in, to re-evaluate your decisions and conclusions about yourself as a person. Re-evaluate how you react when people criticise you; Re-evaluate how you react when people offer advice; Re-evaluate how you react when people insult you, abuse you, forget you and leave you.
These times, though painful, are not necessarily the end of the line; they’re just a moment in time, an experience. All they mean is what you apply (or don’t) to them. Nothing more nothing less. Remember, you are the jailer. You keep yourself in and you let yourself go. Choose carefully your responses and reactions to the experiences of your life. They define you. If you have doubts or slip up, in the words of former British Prime Minister:
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.Margaret Thatcher