We suffer from the disease of more.
Almost all the messaging in society tells you that you need to add something to feel better about yourself. You need better clothes, a nicer car, a bigger home. Or, it tells you that you need to change something about yourself to feel good.
Even seemingly positive messages like self-improvement tell you that you should achieve your goals because it will make you feel better about yourself and your life. The truth? You can change the way you feel about yourself by simply deciding to do it.
In reality, you don’t need to do anything at all to feel confident and it’s the need itself that causes you to lack confidence. Think about it. When you think of someone who is confident, you think of someone who doesn’t need anything.
To get there, the process of removal can work just as well as addition. It’s weird. Usually, you have to do both. Making improvements in your life is necessary because it’s hard to just think your way into confidence. You want proof.
At the same time, though, you can improve your life and even enjoy material success without being weighed down by certain beliefs. Let’s take a look at some misguided beliefs about confidence that actually get in your way of feeling more confident.
The Belief That Causes You to Hesitate and Second Guess
The idea that every little action or reaction says something about you gets in the way of your confidence. People have such a tough time dealing with rejection because of the idea that if someone rejects you, somethings wrong with you.
Or take the process of trying to reach goals period. When you fail, you feel like a failure. You don’t want to try as hard as you can and still fail because where do you go from there? In reality, success or failure are nebulous words and your outcomes in life aren’t directly tied to your efforts.
There are so many factors involved in outcomes that you should never give yourself too much credit when you win and never beat yourself up too much when you don’t. Like I said to start, all of this is tricky and paradoxical but you want to strike the balance of being intentional without overly judging yourself.
Most of our insecurity comes from this constant status measuring that we’re wired to do. We measure everything in terms of whether or not it moves us up the totem pole. The answer? Try your best you can to separate your lizard brain from your rational mind.
You do that by reminding yourself constantly that you determine your feelings about what your actions mean. You determine your feelings about the meaning of other people’s reactions to you. For all of these points, it’s important to remember that all of this is in your head.
The Belief That Keeps You From Confronting Your Real Issues
People who lack confidence tend to have an external locus of control. They look at the world through the lens of what’s happening to them as opposed to the way they’re interacting with the world. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you’re insecure and you think others are out to get you, you project insecurity everywhere you go. Then, your behavior creates outcomes that further reinforce your insecurity, creating a downward spiral. I like to use this thought exercise when it comes to dealing with the idea that your circumstances are causing you to feel a certain way about yourself.
If I could install someone else’s mind into your body and live life as you, would they behave the same way? Would they judge their circumstances the same way? Would they interpret their day to day behavior and interactions the same way? Is there a chance that they’d live your life and get the exact opposite perception of reality than you had?
You already know the remedy. Take ownership of yourself. What a revolutionary and insightful take. As far as how you get there, it’s a matter of taking these little baby steps with your behavior to see how it changes your reality.
Try moving through the world with a stronger sense of confidence, even if it’s fake, and see how the world reacts. Try taking full ownership of the day, for one day, and act is if you’re someone who consistently gets things done.
If you do this long enough, you’ll create a positive feedback loop that will re-wire the way you think about yourself. This will create an upward spiral that will continue to boost your confidence.
The Belief That Turns Molehills Into Mountains
Try this one day (when it’s allowed). Go to a crowded area and just stand there for a while. Look around. You’ll see people talking to each other, huddled up in groups, and a sea of people who all have one thing in common. They’re paying zero attention to you.
There’s this psychological term called the spotlight effect. We think everyone is paying attention to us and waiting to catch us in a moment of embarrassment. In reality, no one cares. In general, we can have this misguided belief that there are some people ‘out there’ who are waiting on our downfall when we want to pursue a goal that means something to us.
I can’t tell you how many aspiring writers tell me how badly they want to write but lack confidence because they’re afraid of what people will say. Sure, they’ll get some negative comments from time to time. I know I do. But even then, it’s not like the trolls in my comments are thinking about me all the time. Why get upset about blips on the radar like that? It goes back to our wiring and measuring of status. The key to ditching all of these beliefs is to ditch them.
It’s all in your head. I’ve said it about nine times so far because it’s true. Build confidence in all areas by removing the self-imposed spotlight. If you have social anxiety, become present and aware when you’re out in public. Notice your surroundings. Notice that no one cares so you can move freely.
When it comes to anxiety about your life and reaching your goals altogether, be present in your day to day life to take those actions. After, realize there was no crowd waiting for you to succeed or fail. Nobody gives a damn except for you. Might as well use that to your advantage.
The Belief That Keeps You From Changing
I’ve spent more than a half-decade focusing on self-improvement. It taught me the important lesson that the fixed mindset is total BS. The idea that you either ‘have it or you don’t’ is nonsense. Or the idea that you can’t change because ‘This is just who I am.’
We all learn and build a self-perception through the interpretation of our experiences. People who appear to be naturally confident tend to be that way because they had good positive feedback loops at an early age. The inverse tends to be true for people who lack confidence.
Why is it so hard to change your self-perception? You have to admit the fact that you’re the one in your own way. You have to come to grips with the fact that you don’t have to be living the way you’re living right now. Who wants to admit to themselves that’s all in their head? That’s a maddening belief because then you know that it’s pretty much all your fault.
Allow me to bust your bubble. Your elaborate explanations for why you are the way you are, especially the insecurities that keep you stuck, are just your interpretations of reality. Nothing more. You don’t have to be meek, or insecure, or introverted, or overly anxious, or lazy, or disorganized, or any of the other labels you’ve given yourself.
Can’t just snap your fingers and change. Yes, you’ll need to create actions and habits that confirm your new identity. But, you can do it. This is how the process of reinventing yourself works.
The Set of Beliefs That Keep You Constrained
This last point isn’t about a single belief, but rather a number of different beliefs that come from society. Social conditioning creates insecurity.
What is social conditioning? It’s the process of training you to believe certain things about life. You believe these things just because they’ve been repeated a bunch of times. Not because they’re true.
A list of socially conditioned ideas that keep you stuck:
- Be a good little boy or girl or else!
- Tall poppy gets cut down. Don’t stand out too much
- Keep up with the joneses
- You only get respect and status from certain careers
- Materials make you who you are
- You have to listen to advice from your parents, teachers, and authority
As you can see, a lot of these beliefs are rooted in the idea that you should be obedient, conformist, and toe the line. Combine these messages in society with your wiring that causes you to seek acceptance and no wonder you have some issues with your confidence.
My life changed when I decided that the rules of society were arbitrary. I realized I could simply disobey those rules and do what I felt like doing. Simple, but profound.
There’s no such thing as the real world or the right way to live. There’s your life. and there’s you. And there’s your perception of both. Your perception is all that matters. Consciously choose one that benefits your life instead of accepting whatever beliefs others try to force on you.
Ayodeji is the author of Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement Grab your free checklist The Ultimate Guide to Discovering Profitable Skills Wanna keep in touch online? Follow me on Instagram here.