New adventures are frightening. Whether you’re walking into a job interview or asking someone out, you don’t know what’ll happen.
They are uncomfortable situations that make the alarms in your head blare. “Go back!” you think. “Before it’s too late.”
You’re so afraid that you turn around and walk out. Though you feel calm again after you’ve given up, you’re not happy about your decision. You’re disappointed, ashamed, and regretful.
You’ll continue to feel that way unless you learn to be braver. You can’t get by without a little confidence.
Being courageous isn’t the same as being fearless. No one is fearless. Being daring means that you walk on your shaking legs and don’t stop until you’ve made it.
You’ve Already Got What You Need
Maybe you’ve always been the type of person who backs out before they do what scares them. You get in line for the rollercoaster and make it to the front. When the ride operator tells you to step up, you turn away and search for another ride.
Perhaps you don’t try at all. You look at the rollercoaster, think it looks fun, but then you turn your eyes. You don’t get in line.
Whether you’re the first or second type of person, it’s easy to feel like you weren’t born with the confidence trait — but that’s not true.
All the courage and bravery you need is inside of you right now. The problem is that they’re stuck. They’re piled under the rubble of fear, doubt, and insecurity.
Your problem isn’t that you’re not brave. You’re just scared, and the fear is winning.
The difference between confident and insecure people isn’t luck. The difference is that confident people chose to dig their hands under the rubble to pull out what they needed.
They learned to act despite fear.
5 Simple Thoughts That’ll Make You Feel Confident
If you want to learn to be brave, you have to put yourself in situations that scare you — but every process begins with your mind.
Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts. They can persuade you in or out of any situation.
If you don’t control what you think, your mind will betray you. Every time you give up, it’s because your head told you to.
Your mind works against you when you’re afraid. Your fight or flight response kicks in, and you typically pick flight.
You have to learn to use your mind to work for you.
1. “It’s not a big deal.”
I used to get incredibly nervous before talking to people I didn’t know. Initiating conversations, even with the woman who could tell me where the dressing rooms were, made my heart beat wildly.
If it’s not people we fear, it’s events. If you’re about to go into an interview, you might think about skipping. You don’t want to bomb it and get rejected.
Our minds like to go to the worst-case scenario. You have to think about the person or situation for what they really are. Tell yourself, “It’s no big deal,” every time you’re about to do something that scares you.
An employee at the store is just a person. An interview is a person asking you questions about yourself. No big deal.
2. “Keep walking.”
When you’re in a physically scary moment (e.g., you’re about to ask someone out), you either keep walking or turn around.
When I convinced myself to talk to an employee, I’d start walking. One simple thought kept me from turning around: “Keep walking.”
The key is to make that thought your sole focus. Repeat it — keep walking, keep walking, keep walking — like a maniac. The point is to get so stuck in your head that you don’t give yourself a chance to feel your nerves.
If you don’t realize what you’re feeling, you won’t back out. Feelings are your enemy in these situations. Don’t think. Walk until you’ve made it.
3. “Everything’s going to be great.”
As I said, our minds like to go to the worst-case scenario. If you’re about to give a speech, you’ll imagine yourself stumbling or tripping on your way toward the podium.
You can turn those embarrassing pictures into successful ones that make you feel okay. Think, “Everything’s going to be great.”
Play what you’d like to happen as you give your speech in your head. See yourself walking normally, uneventfully, even. See yourself giving your speech as you planned.
It’ll be boring. Even though you don’t like to imagine yourself failing, it’s more exciting and entertaining.
But talk to yourself the whole way through. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
4. “Don’t be a coward.”
Sometimes you need kind reminders. Other times, you need tough love.
When I’m scared, I think, “Don’t be a little bitch.” If you’re not comfortable with that, “Don’t be a coward,” works just as well.
The reason this works is that it dares you. We think we’re not those little kids who do dumb things because someone calls them a “chicken,” but we are. No one wants to be the type of person who backs out because they’re scared.
This thought taps into that fear. You’ll act merely because you don’t want to be a coward or disappoint yourself.
Try it. If you’re scared, give yourself tough love. Out of all these thoughts, this one works the best for me.
5. “I’m okay.”
Before you do the thing that scares you, you feel nervous. You might pull at your hair, start shaking, or snack on too much of the trail mix in your bag.
All those nervous reactions make you feel worse. You have to convince yourself that you’re okay. The key is to concentrate on saying, “I’m okay,” so intensely that you don’t have the time or space to think anything else.
It’ll be hard, but try to still your hands. Focus on your breathing to calm down. Remind yourself that you’re not in actual danger.
You might feel like you’re about to leap off a cliff toward your death, but you’re just a bit nervous. Nerves are no big deal. You can deal with those.
You’re safe and okay. Say it over and over again.
Being Confident Isn’t Hard
Remember, you can act even when you’re afraid. What you do starts with your thinking, so learn to control your thoughts rather than letting them overwhelm you.
Everything you need is inside of you. You don’t lack courage — you just have to let it shine.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. — Nelson Mandela
If you want to be brave, you can be. It’s not a trait given to a certain number of people. You only have to tap into it and act upon it.
Mind Cafe in Your Inbox
When you follow us on Medium and tick the box that opts-in to email updates, you’ll receive a weekly roundup of our best-performing articles in your inbox. To keep up to date with other news, follow this link and click subscribe.