Why does self-confidence come easily to some while it eludes others? As with many things, the answer rarely lies in the here and now, but its roots can be traced back to early successes achieved in childhood. Think back to your earliest childhood memories. When you began reading, did your parents express exuberance when you read aloud a word correctly for the first time? Now recall the first time you rode your bike from one end of the block to the other and didn’t fall off. Did you see your mother’s expression change from hands over her open mouth, eyes expressing utter fear to clapping audibly as she yelled, “Yay honey! I am so proud of you!” as you triumphantly stepped off your two-wheeler? Each time you brought home your report card and you “aced” all your classes, did your grandpa give you a little extra in your allowance?
Whether you knew it at the time or not, you learned that as you did something well, your cheering section rooted for you! With each clap, reward or words of encouragement, you built up the courage to take the next step and achieve bigger and better things. At some point you may have become almost fearless trying new things. This is what having self-confidence is all about.
Maybe your recollections are different and don’t conjure up such good feelings for you as you read this. Does this mean you are doomed to failure? Not in the least bit, it means that as an adult you must now learn how to gain the self-confidence that you need to succeed in life. Surprising though, it isn’t going to be as much of a challenge as you think.
What you will need to gain self-confidence:
That’s it, you ask? That’s it! No need to spend endless amounts of money on self-help books. No matter your age, your sex, your education – or even lack thereof – or your whether you are gainfully employed or not, self-confidence is within your reach.
Whether you are four and learning to read or 44 and have decided that after a lifetime of working for someone else, you want to start your own business or finally believe that you have a talent for art, music or writing, whatever it is, you need people in your corner who can rally around and yell “you go girl!” or “you rock, dude!” The wonderful thing about a support system is that it’s already in place! Your spouse, best friend, parents, siblings and children are perfect for holding your hand. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. And when someone isn’t supportive, hard though it may be to do, tune that person out.
A Positive Attitude
We all have one – the ugly looking ogre who sits on our shoulders telling us we can’t do it, that we lack the drive, the talent, the education, the chutzpah and of course in this economy, the funds to succeed. Pick him or her up and physically throw that nasty thing in the garbage. If it comes back, you didn’t throw it far enough. Go to a far off place, all by yourself and have a ceremonial burning of this creature. It has no place in your quest to build self-confidence!
Whether your previous “wins” are relevant to the thing you have decided to do or not, they are wholly relevant to building self-confidence. Maybe you won 1st place at the Science Fair 20 years ago. Place it on your desk or wherever you will see it every day. Maybe your best friend (now or when you were in grade school, it doesn’t matter) gave you an award that reminded you why she or he was/is your best friend in the whole wide world. Get it out and frame it. Whatever it is, surround yourself with it. While it might seem as though you are becoming a braggart, you aren’t. Just because you threw the ugly gremlin away, doesn’t mean you can’t fall back into bad habits of self-doubt. By waking up each day to positive things around you that YOU achieved, eventually it will sink in that you are the amazing person that others see when they see you.
Goals That are Attainable
If you ever saw the movie, “What About Bob?,” which starred Bill Murray (as Bob) and Richard Dreyfuss, you will surely remember the line, “baby steps, Bob,” which Richard Dreyfuss (Bob’s therapist) repeatedly reminded Bob of as he tried to gain self-confidence. Of course the plot took viewers through twists and turns, but the sentiment is important. Don’t audition for American Idol until you have had a few singing lessons, gotten the praise from your vocal coach and done a few music gigs. Everything in life requires baby steps. You have to start at the bottom and with each success you gain the self-confidence to move to the next level. Eventually the judges of American Idol will be ready for you.
Contrary to what you might suppose, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. aren’t just for wildly successful people. Get a fan page on Facebook. Get some followers on Twitter and connect with as many people as you can on LinkedIn. With each little success – a gig in your local town, a travel article sold to any publication, be it large or small, the purchase of one of your paintings, etc. Tweet it, post it and let your connections know. Whether your connections, friends and followers are truly friends, friends of friends or colleagues, seeing their comments will brighten your day and give you the continued encouragement you need to continue doing it. What is it? Whatever you have set your mind to accomplish that will result in building self-esteem.
A final step on your road to building self-confidence might include starting a blog and writing about your journey. Because you are going to live this journey day in and day out, you may not see the progress. You may have to look back and see your own growth. Don’t forget to give yourself a hug! You go girl and you rock, dude!