Confidence is a very tricky beast to tame, and chances are if you are reading this article, you are struggling with it as well. The advice we get from wildly successful and confident people is always the same: you should just go for it and do it!
While there is some truth to this, a lot of information is left out. There is also never any mention of techniques we can practice to actually gain confidence. Read through this article as I will delve into both of these topics.
Lets first start discussing where confidence comes from. In my experience it comes from 2 main areas.
The first is your level of proficiency in something. The more knowledgeable you are about something, the more confident you will feel about it. Take the example of asking out someone you fancy. A lot of times the lack of confidence stems from the fact that we don’t know the best way to approach that person.
Should I call, should I wait till I see them alone, should I…. and the list goes on. In this case we lack the proficiency in knowing the best way to approach them. This will always cause us to doubt ourselves if what we are doing is the best way of going about it. The lack of confidence often times becomes very noticeable when we do decide to make the move.
If you know what the best approach is going to be (doesn’t have to be the correct one, you just have to think its the best one), you are a lot less likely to be doubting your decision. In turn you will also come over as a lot more confident simply because you are not doubting yourself.
Another quick example is if you aren’t that confident in social scenarios where someone might be becoming aggressive, like an angry customer in a supermarket. If you become a proficient boxer or martial artist you really won’t worry what is going to happen because you don’t doubt your skills should it come to a physical confrontation.
The main problem that proficiency in a tasks tries to tackle is doubt. A lot of confidence problems originate due to doubt about something. The more knowledgeable you are about a specific aspect of your life, the more confident you will become.
Attitude towards the opinions of others is the second major reason for a total lack of confidence. The thought of how others judge us is always lingering in the back of our minds. It scares us, and this has directly affects our confidence.
Just ask yourself, how easy would certain things become if I didn’t care what other people thought or said about me behind my back. You will find that a lot of things in life would be much simpler.
It is easy to say you should simply “ignore the haters”, but how can we actually do this. I’ll be the first to admit this is not something you will learn in a day, and will take some time before you truly achieve it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it, since anything worth pursuing requires hard work and dedication!
I am still working on this part of my life myself. I am not fully there yet, but I have made great leaps of progress and can say with full confidence that this is incredibly effective and rewarding. So what did I do and what strategies did I use?
I simply started reading books on Stoic philosophy. The ones I recommend you to pick up are Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and Letters From A Stoic by Lucius Seneca.
These books contain great golden nuggets of wisdom and are quite inspiring to read. Take these great philosophers as your role models, and try to understand, how these stoics think. You can apply a lot of their personal examples to your life.
They were also very effective in “blocking out the haters” so to speak. So if you strive for this, make sure you read those books!
I will definitely be writing more about the stoic philosophy, particularly on some actions you can take to practice and reinforce those ideas in the future. So stay tuned for that!
So Which One is the Most Effective?
While gaining proficiency in a certain task is extremely beneficial for your confidence, it is limited to just that task. It doesn’t carry over to other aspects of your life. Having an attitude of not worrying about what others think of you can be applied universally to whatever you do.
So why even bother with the proficiency part if attitude is all encompassing. Well for starters, gaining true immunity of the opinion of others is something that will take months if not years for you to accomplish. Gaining skill and eradicating doubt for one specific task can be achieved in a much shorter time frame.
They work really well together in tandem, but I will argue that having the correct attitude is the more powerful out of the two, but also the more difficult one to achieve. I really suggest you make work of both aspects and not to neglect one or the other.
Keep working on yourself. Remember that all of this takes time, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while before you see yourself progress. As long as you stick with it, you will grow, I promise you that!