Self-Confidence – Use It or Lose It
Over a century ago, the famous William James made an observation: Most people live in a restricted circle of potential. Reasons behind this truth don’t revolve around a lack of intelligence, privileges or resources, but rather a lack of belief in personal ability, or rather – a lack of self-confidence. Without it, you can walk, but with it, you can fly.
However, when all is said and done, what is self-confidence? Some people view confidence as an embedded trait, something that an individual is born with and that the rest are left wishing for. However, research proves the stark opposite. Confidence is the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take. It is not based on your actual ability to succeed, but rather, it is based on your belief to succeed. This could be your belief in your ability to speak to a mass audience, your belief in your ability to ice skate, your belief in your ability to learn a new skill or language, or your belief in your ability to outgrow the people who are a negative contribution to your mental health.
New research into neural plasticity reveals that we can literally rewire our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behaviors at any age. With a continuous stream of effort and the ongoing courage to overtake a risk, an individual can gradually expand their confidence, and their ability to build more of it.
Regardless of how confident a person generally is, there is a possibility that confidence can wane throughout our lives. It’s boosted when we experience a win, gain or receive praise and compliments. However, it diminishes when our efforts fall short of the mark, at times of criticism and rejection, or simply a lack of external recognition. Therefore, it is important to consider external affirmation, but not let it come in the way of your self-worth.
The same way as the simplest recipes turn out the best dishes, the simplest advice can produce the strongest results. Personally, one of the most powerful ways to build confidence is to act with the confidence you aspire to be a holder of – act as if you already possess the confidence you wish to have. Exit your comfort zone and realize your potential. When we stop reaching, we stop learning, and when we stop learning, we stop growing. This growth can be hindered with regards to growing our knowledge and skills, growing our value, and growing our self-confidence in our ability to make things happen.
There are, however, instances where rather than playing to win and claiming new ground, people are driven by a force of losing the ground they already have. Their unwillingness to cause a threat to their well-established reputation in the short term yields to bigger opportunities slipping out of sight. These opportunities end up in the hands of people who never stopped strengthening their confidence along the way. Failing to take a risk and have a go can ultimately put the confidence you have now at risk.
Stand up tall, shoulders back, chin up and move your body into the posture of a self-assured individual. When we shift our physical state, we also shift our mental and emotional states. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Professor, said: “Putting ourselves in a power move literally changes our physiology, releasing a hearty dose of testosterone to fuel our bravery.”
Confidence is hard to find, but easy to recognize. “With it, you can conquer the world; without it, you live stuck at the starting block of your potential.”