artwork created by DaRaun Crawford
Google search “confidence” and the first definition you’ll see is “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.” In this article, I’ll be referring to self-confidence, or the feeling of self-reliance. This is being able to tell yourself you can and will do something or trusting your ability to handle a situation in the best way possible. Those who struggle with self confidence find it difficult to trust themselves when making decisions. “What if nobody listens to me?” “This is probably going to come out bad.” My mind has done back flips to make me feel incompetent to success. Others have told me they’ve told themselves, “That won’t work out right,” “That’s lame” and the likes of such. Sometimes it’s not even your voice you hear in your head; it can be those who’ve doubted and shamed you in the past. If you’ve ever felt self doubt (all of us have), then you understand how demotivating these thoughts can be when you want to do something new, pursue a dream, or step outside of your comfort zone to bring some change in your life.
In fact, these thoughts are reinforcing themselves every time they happen. The voice in your head is discouraging you from acting on something that is potentially dangerous to your self esteem. The decision to stay inactive is followed by the same comfortable, or familiar place in your life, protecting your ego from damage that could occur. This phenomenon is actually rewarding to the brain’s primitive limbic system. This causes your mind to think that these demotivating thoughts are actually helping you, when, obviously, they are doing the exact opposite.
Despite all the confidence building regimes and ego boosting affirmations, I’ve noticed one key principle in the foundation of all of these techniques. Without this, nothing in life can make a substantial change. Of course, great things can happen by chance, and indeed they do throughout society and change people’s lives. But leaving your life up to chance, despite having the capacity to take matters into your own hands, is a life that is beyond your control. You’re just waiting for your lottery ticket opportunity. And as cold as our world is today, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in the slightest leaving my fate up to the world.
Courage. That’s what you need — a lot more than confidence. Actually, the only way to build confidence is to build courage in yourself. In order to grow, take risks, and implement great change in your life confidence will only soothe your anxiety of taking action. However, courage is what will enable you to actually take the first step. The more courageous you are, the more risks you will take; the more exposure to failure and success you see, the more comfort you will have with taking chances. Confidence is simply your comfort in being courageous. With each courageous step and leap you take, confidence will be established. Confidence is the by-product courage. So it is far more important to be courageous when your confidence doesn’t seem to be up to par.
Being courageous works in two ways:
On one end, when you find success, you will have more reassurance to continue on your path. Your success will encourage you to take more risk because you have seen results from your actions. In addition, it is vital to be fully aware of yourself and your environment in order to notice the fruits of your labor. I can say with confidence that many of us are unaware of the blessings we have right now as a result of the work we’ve done. You always have more knowledge and resources than you think, just look a little harder at what and who you know. So moving forward, be aware of the big and small doors your courageous acts have opened for you.
On the other end, “failure” is clarifying. When you don’t get the results you expected, you are forced to take a step back. During this time of observation, you can assess what went right and what went wrong. Even more, your newfound knowledge will leave you better prepared for your next step. So be resilient in your efforts, there is always something to gain. “Failure” is never really unproductive and should be looked at as progress in itself. Just like success, “failure” — emphasis on the air quotes — is very useful in itself. Failure is an unconscious perspective on your efforts, you always win when you see the silver lining.
However, being courageous is no easier than being confident. It’s takes courage to be courageous, haha. In order to take these steps and leaps towards becoming your best self, you have to disassociate your actions from your self (for more insight on this, read this article i’ve written on not taking everything personal.) This calls for you to start disassociating your true self from your ego. Your ego is one of the strongest tools in the human psyche, however, many of us obsess over it and allow it to control our lives. Being courageous calls for you to put down past ideas of what type of person you should be, what you think of yourself, and what you think others think of you. These mental fixes prevent us from doing something we haven’t done because they don’t meet an expectation we’ve subconsciously made for ourselves. If you can allow yourself to be different, do different things, and form into a new person, you will start to become your ideal person and will continuously improve. Your new attitude must be one of an eager student, open to learning from all of your experiences and willing to make mistakes in the hopes of gaining experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Bruce Lee actually talks subtly talks about losing your ego fixed mind:
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
So focus on building courage. Take risk. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions so you can grow. Be willing to make mistakes. Life is never serious enough to be afraid to lose or make a mistake. You will never be your true self living in fear.
I’ll leave you with a small challenge: write down everything that you can be grateful for. Big and small. Now look at the opportunities that you have, that most other people in the world don’t. Write those down to. With this, you will be able to focus on yourself, the blessings you have, and see the potential places you can go towards in life.
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