Trawling through YouTube the other day, I was amazed by the quantity of confidence videos. There are thousands of them, with everyone from fitness coaches to life coaches and even lay people giving their 2 cents on what it takes to build confidence. However, more than sheer numbers, it was the variety of advice offered that really struck me.
- One tells you to dress for success.
- The next tells you to be aware of your posture and how you present yourself.
- Another tells you to ‘Act as if’ you are confident and the feeling will follow.
- Yet another will tell you it’s about visualizing a confidence bubble surrounding you and filling you with this feeling.
All of this advice got me thinking. While far from being wrong, there must be one overriding principle that, if followed, will save you a ton of time in experimenting with all the others.
In search of this Holy Grail of confidence, I looked back on my own experience as a young adult lacking confidence both professionally and socially and recalled what worked for me. I then combined this knowledge with my experience as a hypnotherapist, looking into what worked best for my clients. Finally, when I did some research online, and discovered that the conclusion I was coming to was backed by scientific studies, I knew I was onto a winner.
So this, dear reader, is what I want to share with you today. An incredibly simple one step formula that, if followed, will bring you life long confidence in any area you need.
Face your Fears
The process is straightforward.
- Find the area in which you lack confidence.
- Force yourself to repeat this act again and again until the nerves subside and you begin to relax.
So if you lack confidence when talking to people you find attractive then make as many approaches as possible.
If you lack confidence speaking in front of an audience then sign yourself up for a speaking group and get practicing every week.
And if you lack confidence in your creative work (writing, painting, making music etc) then put it in front of other people and let them give you their feedback
Do the thing you fear again and again until you fear it no more.
What the Research Says
The good news is that this really works.
The bad news is that you’re going to have to DO some work.
You can’t get something for nothing and that’s why techniques like postural awareness and dressing for success only bring limited results. What I’m offering, although daunting, is the only way to remove those limiting feelings that cause a lack of confidence.
Here’s why it works.
Your feelings are always going to be more powerful than your thoughts. It’s why a smoker can rationalize that they need to stop in order to prevent damaging their health, yet find themselves unable to do so because they feel a strong emotional attachment to the habit.
Lack of confidence works on the same principle. Throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood, you’ll attempt certain activities and receive an emotional evaluation on how you did. If the response you receive is ridicule, rejection or failure, the unpleasant feelings you experience, depending on their severity, will warn you away from partaking in that activity again. And it won’t matter how much you want to be successful. This is just a thought. What stays with you is the unpleasant feeling that occurred when you attempted to do something and didn’t receive the outcome you desired.
While this may not stop you from partaking in an activity (pursuing romance, public speaking, blogging) altogether, it will affect the frequency with which you do it. As a general rule, you’ll avoid the situations where you lack of confidence.
This is the biggest mistake. Frequency makes all the difference and the more often you face your fears, the weaker the negative response will be. This is because you’ll reach a point where you exhaust your negative emotions and they just can’t keep producing the hormones that warn you away.
Added to that, the more often you perform an activity, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more likely the chance you’ll receive the response you desired (e.g. the audience is engaged by your talk or the girl says ‘yes’). And this, dear reader, is when it gets interesting. Research indicates (See Distortion 4 on the link) that the best way to boost your confidence is to receive confirmation from other people that you are good at doing that particular task. While visualization and affirmation have their place, they do not hold as much power as hearing directly, from another person we respect, that we have performed well. This is where the real boost in confidence comes. Stack together a few of these experiences and you’ll activate a positive feedback loop that will permanently boost your confidence.
In summary, the key word is frequency. Most people seek to avoid that which produces unpleasant emotions, only partaking in the activity when they absolutely have to. What I would recommend is that you go out of your way to do the things that fill you with fear. In fact, grasp every opportunity to experience the discomfort. Don’t underestimate just how often you’ll have to face these fears and just how stubborn they can be though. You’ll have to push yourself to the point of exasperation and it’s generally when you’re closest to giving up that a change will occur.
And when I say ‘force yourself’, I mean it. Your emotions will throw all kinds of junk at you in an attempt to ‘protect’ you from what they perceive as a threat. DON’T listen to them. The head must govern the heart in this situation. Be strong and make yourself face your fears.
How do I know this is going to work?
As I said at the start, I’ve been through my own confidence transformation.
On the 10th march 2005, I saw my first hypnotherapy client. At the time, I lived opposite the clinic I worked from and I distinctly remember arriving 20 minutes before the start of the session, sitting in the big arm chair and thinking to myself, ‘I could leave now and nobody would know. In 1 minute I could be back in my room and this ordeal (I was very anxious at the thought of doing my first session) will go away.’
Thank God I didn’t. What proceeded was a pretty terrible session and there were plenty more of them over the next few years as I both learned my craft and overcame my limiting belief about being too young and inexperienced (I was 25 at the time) to help people. However, what came out the other side was a completely confident man who knows he has the ability to help anybody who enlists his services.
I achieved this transformation by turning up and facing my fears again and again (no matter how much I wanted to run). The confidence came from the trickle of positive feedback I received that steadily grew into a stream and finally developed into a fully flowing river. This enabled me to relax when performing a session and get into the flow of being a great hypnotherapist.
I hope this story, and the wider article, has convinced you. The only thing standing between you now, and that confident version you know you can be, is a willingness to put yourself on the line.
Want to learn more and develop your self-belief so you can live a life of freedom and greatness?
Then head over to my website Screw the System and get your FREE copy of 50 Reality Changing Insights. Also check out my critically acclaimed book Escape the System Now. I work as a writer, hypnotherapist and tennis coach and have a passion for helping people discover their greatness and live lives of greater freedom and authenticity.