Monday, February 17, 2014

12 Steps to Building Self-Confidence

The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.

~Oprah Winfrey~



Our beliefs drive our identity. Our identity drives our behavior. Our behavior drives our outcomes. These simple truths provide us with an awareness of the importance of our beliefs as they relate to realizing our God-given potential and engaging experiences that cause us to feel satisfied about our lives. I’m sure you have heard many messages on the importance of your beliefs such as, “If you believe, you can achieve,” “Nothing is impossible to him that believes,” and “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.” Yet, you still struggle with believing in yourself and in your ability to manifest the life experiences you desire. Is it that you continue to doubt yourself because of the curse of knowledge?

What You Know Can Limit You
What do I mean by the curse of knowledge? Consider this, when you are faced with a challenge or opportunity, how often do you consider your past experiences or other people’s opinion before determining your response? It is only natural for us to use our experiences as a gauge for what we believe is possible in our life. However, I argue that our inability to see our experiences with “new” eyes prevent us from realizing the potential that exists within each “new” experience. For example, how many times have you heard that people bring their “baggage” into new relationships? What does this mean? It means that each time one enters a new relationship of any kind, the “new” relationship has to compete with the knowledge of similar experiences. If those experiences were positive then you will embrace “new” relationships with an openness and positive expectation. If on the other hand your experiences were negative, you are more apt to be cautious and have low expectations about the relationship becoming a rewarding experience. The curse of knowledge influences each of us to assume that we know how a relationship is going to unfold, primarily because of our past experiences.

Embrace Life with a Childlike Faith

I’m sure you can look back at your life, just as I can, and recall thoughts that you believed to be true only to find out that what you believed was not true. We’re all guilty of this. How can we embrace “new” experiences with a frame of mind that gives each of them an opportunity to bloom or go bust before we assume that we know how they will unfold? We have to nurture a childlike faith in our heart.

When a child is told something by his parents, he believes it to be so. He accepts their word without resistance because he isn’t operating under the influence of the curse of knowledge. He hasn’t experienced the disappointments, heartache and adversity that cause many adults to develop a pessimistic perspective about life in general. The child gets in agreement with the word spoken by his parents and behave in the manner that reinforces his agreement of what has been told to him.

By no means am I suggesting that you ignore your smarts in discerning the validity of someone’s intentions toward you. A person’s character is not always evident when you meet them. I get that. You have to allow time and their actions to give you a view of their beliefs and how they drive his or her identity and behavior. It is a fact that our beliefs show up in the private conversations we have with ourselves and in our public conversations with others. Our words and actions are a reflection of the “word in our heart” i.e. our beliefs. This is true for each of us.

Curiosity Builds Self-Confidence

We have to be discerning of people motives AND be open to allowing the process of a relationship or any other situation unfold. Our culture promotes a “drive-thru” mentality. If something doesn’t happen quickly in a relationship we begin to lose interest. Some of this has to do with the fact that many of us come from broken homes and we didn’t have the pleasure of witnessing what it takes to build lasting relationships. Many people project their beliefs and feelings about past personal experiences on their professional experiences. This habit can certainly create conflict and confusion in professional settings.

Many people have lost their ability to develop face to face friendships. They feel more comfortable behind a computer screen or smart phone. They refuse to engage new experiences where they can meet new people and develop new friendships. When we lose that sense of curiosity we had as a child, our life has a tendency to shrink. We have to be proactive in maintaining our sense of curiosity and dismiss the notion that we are not strong enough to handle whatever life brings. Each of us are stronger and smarter than we give ourselves credit.

I am suggesting that many of the doubts you have about what is possible in your life are rooted in what you assume you know because of previous experiences. And this way of thinking is robbing you of experiences that can enhance your wellbeing. I recommend that you become curious about what you don’t know and begin to embrace life with a childlike faith and sense of curiosity. Engage some or all of the following steps to add more delight in your life while building your self-confidence..

  1. Practice Gratitude. At the end of each day, keep a notebook of three things that went well on that day and make a note next to each why you are grateful that it happened.
  2. Create a Confidence Booster Jar/Box. Purchase a Mason jar or small gift box and label it, “Confidence Booster”. Get a pack of post it’s or cut blank sheets of paper. On each piece of paper write down those times when you overcame an obstacle, bounce back from a setback and accomplished something you were very proud of. For the next 42 days, read one of your notes out loud to yourself.
  3. Contribute Value to Others. Contact the volunteer coordinator of a community agency that is creating positive change towards a cause that’s important to you. Inform him or her that you need to complete a community project within the next 42 days. Ask how you can serve the clients of the agency with your knowledge and talent while you achieve this goal. Show up and serve.
  4. Exercise Daily. For the next 42 days, commit to exercising at least 20 minutes a day. If daily exercise is a part of your agenda, check into other forms of exercise and engage one that you’ve been interested in but haven’t made the time to find out more about.
  5. Reconnect with an Old Friend. Too often, friendships in our childhood and adolescence go by the wayside when we begin to take on adult responsibilities. It’s time you make an effort to reconnect with that friend you’ve often wondered about but made no effort to find out where they are and if you are able to reconnect with them. Clocks ticking. You have 42 days.
  6. Plan a Potluck Meal with Your Neighbors. How many of your neighbors do you really know? The cordial greetings in the mornings and evenings that takes place between you and your neighbors is nice, however, spending time and getting to know them and building authentic connections creates a stronger sense of community.
  7. Embrace Diversity. Attend a cultural event sponsored by individuals of a different race than you. Acceptance, compassion and tolerance of others come with the understanding that each of us, regardless of the color of our skin, are members of the human race.
  8. Schedule Three Date Nights with Your Significant Other. During the holiday season, it is so easy for couples to get caught up in the doing that they forget to just be with one another. Scheduling these date nights during this season will help you to stay connected to what really matters, your relationship.
  9. Visit a Local Attraction. Why should visitors of your city have all the fun? Look into your local attractions and find one that interest you and your family or friends and schedule a date to visit it.
  10. Buy Local. When you support local small businesses in your community, you are helping your neighbors and local schools and strengthening your local economy. Visit an area of local businesses that you are not familiar with and discover the unique talent of your area business leaders.
  11. Write a Letter to the Editor. Stand up for something. Don’t live your life in a vacuum. Write a letter to the editor of a community newspaper sharing your voice on a topic of interest to you.
  12. Adopt a Beginner's Mindset. Instead of assuming that you know everything there is to know about a dilemma you're facing, consider this perspective: If you didn't have the history that you have in this particular aspect of your life, and you believed that you would succeed, in spite of any obstacles, take the actions you would as a beginner. It's time for you to own your strong. Yes, you are going to experience fear, uncertainty and self-doubt as you place a greater demand on yourself to unleash your greatness. You are going to experience fear, uncertainty and self-doubt, anyway! Build up your confidence by taking small steps out of your comfort zone. Let us agree that you can become comfortable with temporary discomfort. And then let us do whatever it takes to make this year, the best year yet of our lives.

I'll like to know what you think about the tips listed above and how you would apply them to build your confidence. Share your comments below.

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Dare to Be Great!







Note: For practical advice that's fresh, personal, relevant and speaks to the common challenges faced by most of us when we strive to move forward and live a life that inspires the best in us, read my latest book, Get Unstuck Now. Click here for details about it.