This article was last updated on February 11, 2022
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E.E. Cummings
“Don’t talk to her, you are not good enough”
The ‘encouraging’ thought welled up in my mind.
I was looking at my crush during recess. I thought of approaching her. My internal advisor advised against, and I listened. ‘Lucky….’
My mind had played a defensive script. I had more of these internal dialogues: ‘Just hang low, don’t attract too much attention.’ ‘I am just the quiet guy’ ‘Why are they looking at me like I am a weirdo?’
These self-deprecating thoughts dictated my mind. Somehow I thought I was a loser.
So that’s how I acted.
I didn’t dare do anything beyond my (perceived) capacities or status. I couldn’t even stand up for myself. Every time my bullies threw me in the garbage, I poorly objected.
After an arduous high school journey, college finally arrived.
I vowed to make a fresh start. This time I would be popular! So I impulsively joined a fraternity to compensate for my anxiety. Then I would be cool! Right?
Nope, I just started acting like a dick.
For a long time I mistook my misplaced arrogance, and that of my pledge brothers, for real confidence. I thought we were cool guys. But it was all vain status play. I was still being pushed around. By peers and my inner critic. To feel good I indulged in the theatre of cockiness – putting other people down to feel good. Not my proudest moments…
Strange how you act so counter-productive when feeling insecure.
After I was left heartbroken by my girlfriend, I hit emotional rock bottom. Something snapped.
What the fuck had I been doing? I could not go through life from misery to misery. Faking who I was, to have some intermittent highlight of joy. My circumstances should allow me to feel confident? Why wasn’t I ever feeling that way?
It was due time to get my shit together.
Two years later.
One of my (truly) best friend sits next to me. We are both a bit drunk and bantering away. He suddenly proclaims “You know most of your douchy frat brothers look up to you.” “Why?” I ask astounded. “Because you are always relaxed and confident. You are not swayed by what other people say or think about you.” “What? Are you kidding me? But I am just some nerdy guy?”
Only then it dawned on me.
I wasn’t a little pushover anymore. Somehow had I become confident. Besides I wasn’t acting like a dick anymore. Instead I was helping people because of my confidence. How did that happen?
Was I richer? Nope! Better looking? Definitely not. More intelligent? Me no thinksie!
Somewhere along the way I had discarded my misguided programming. Replacing it with constructive thinking patterns.
When I reached my low point years back. I vowed to improve myself. Immersing myself in motivational speeches and devouring self-help books. I knew that the positive words would rub off on my conscious and subconscious.
I started applying advices and mindsets. Using a growth mindset and most of all – I started taking action!
I am convinced anyone can grow to become confident. You too can gain mature and sustainable self-confidence. But it does mean a mental shift from the conventional.
Are you up to the challenge? Sure you are!
Time to take control.
Time to discard a life of limiting thoughts. Thoughts induced by fraudulent advertising, faulty upbringing and fake peers. Embrace the right way of thinking to be confident.
Let me introduce you to the basic confident mental models that helped me. With them I grew to someone I am proud of. Rethink yourself and your place in the world.
I give this advice because the world would be much better if we all were more confident. We would stop mitigating our anxieties and insecurities through destructive behavior. Instead you could use that confidence to support yourself, friends and strangers.
Let’s get started:
10 Essential Principles To Be Unbelievably Confident
#1 – Be honest about your life and accept who you are
Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. – Tyler Durden
Let’s start from scratch.
Be brutally honest about where you are in life. Know it, feel it! Be honest about it to yourself and others. Stop denying and hiding from truths. What you deny, you can’t change.
Hard to grasp? Sit down and write it out.
I am a 28 year old guy in a shit job, wanting to travel the world. But can’t find the guts to cut some ties.
Your turn! The harder it is, the more you need to confront yourself.
Secondly – accept who you are.
You have strengths and weaknesses. And hey, you can improve them.
But not until you embrace who you are. Accept yourself as you are right now, with all your flaws and shortcomings. Find contentment in it. Because there is simply no other reality.
Through this utter acceptance you can you grow.
#2 Define your own values and framework
To grow confident you need to stop chasing illusions. Stop comparing yourself to what others demand of you. Or worse, what you think they expect from you.
Start by defining your own values. What is important to you? Why is it important? Start acting by these values.
Make a thorough analysis when defining your values. Make it profound.
Ask yourself: What implies my culture? And why? Do I agree? What did my parents teach me? Do I agree? And why? And so on. Get to the bottom of your thoughts and feelings.
Through reading, discussing and reflecting you can develop your set of standards and values. Use your own instinct, feelings and reasoning!
Recognize influence from group dynamics. So you won’t blindly follow the herd. Thinking for yourself means creating or choosing your own path in life.
Explore many sources to hone your thought and values. Read books and blogs. Have discussions and conversations. But always be critical and keep your wit.
Confident men and women define others by their standards. Not themselves by other people’s standards.
Create and follow your own moral compass.
#3 Go from outer reference to inner reference
There is definite proof that social media makes people feel bad. Why has he so many likes? Why is she going to cool parties etc.?
You might display similar behavior in the analog world. Why is he richer? Happier? Or more successful?
Strange how we make these unfair comparisons. We take a look at appearances and then compare it to how we feel inside.
We compare our inner-self, to the highly curated image of other people’s outer self.
A good recipe for misery.
Stop this unfair equation. Instead focus on yourself. To develop, think about how you make progress compared to your old self. Did I do better than the me of a month ago? Or a year ago? Did you make progress? That is success!
Progress of self is important for confidence.
And who is responsible for this confidence?
Who is responsible for success? And who for your failures? Where do you think control lies?
Confident people think it lies within themselves. They have cultivated an inner locus of control.
This means taking responsibility for your actions and results. You think you are responsible for how you feel and what you think.
Compare this to blaming everything on external actors. Like your boss, parents, the weather, or divine will. If you don’t think YOU are responsible, you won’t be inclined to improve.
Making yourself responsible will.
Granted, some things definitely are out of your control. But you are responsible for your reactions to these events.
#4 Adapt a growth mindset
As mentioned, developing and confidence go hand in hand. To stand still is to go backwards.
A fatal flaw people are susceptible to, is thinking their skills and character are set in stone. This deterministic mindset is incompatible with progress. It’s a limiting self-fulfilling prophecy.
If this is you, start adopting a growth mindset instead.
Know you can improve any skill! Know you can develop your character!
As long as you are alive, your body and mind can adapt to new challenges. Never think you can’t grow any further.
Furthermore, a healthy growth mindset acknowledges failure.
There is a lot of sketching before you draw a Mona Lisa. Redefine failure not as something stupid or dumb only for losers. But define it as a part of the learning process.
Failures will occur. Anticipate the impact and plan for getting back up!
Every failure is another lesson learned.
#5 Stop seeking validation and acceptance from others
As a person led by inner values you won’t need attention, validation and acceptance of others.
You might get it. You might even enjoy it.
But you don’t need it!
Stop actively seeking and craving it. Stop pleasing people to get it.
You can be nice to people! Of course! But it should come from a position of strength and compassion. Not from seeking acceptance and attention. Your own acceptance and moral integrity are the most important. Others can follow if they want.
If you condone behavior opposite to your values, or give away status to be accepted. You act without integrity. Losing confidence in the process.
Instead, stand by your values!
#6 Cultivate a Bias for the Positive
People have this amazing power to decide how they feel about events. A small pause between stimuli and reaction. As mentioned by Victor Frankl.
Cultivate this little pause. And use it to choose a more positive reaction.
Guide your responses away from annoyance, anger or fear. Go instead for interest, gratefulness or excitement.
You can actively rephrase your thought patterns. Train different ways of thinking and speaking.
Examples of redefining your view on the world are:
– Think in solutions instead of problems
– Reflect on past achievements instead of past transgressions.
– Enjoy the process instead of only seeing the goal.
– Never let a good crisis go to waste
– Focus on what you want instead of what you avoid
Of course there will always be old negative thinking patterns. Try using them as little as possible and actively immerse your mind with positivity.
Read uplifting books. Use mantra’s to rewire your brain. Let go of toxic people and environments and embrace uplifting ones.
All little steps to be more optimistic and confident.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – Frank Outlaw
#7 Lose self-limiting beliefs
When we grow up, we create models of the world.
We construct beliefs that explain what happens around us. X happens because of Y. End of story.
These beliefs can be deeply ingrained in our thinking.
But, a lot of beliefs are flawed. They limit your progress and possibilities. They prevent you from action and enjoying life.
Grow beyond these scripts.
First recognize them. When you think “I can’t do X because of Y.” Or anything similar, be alert!
Analyze whether that statement is true. And why. Reason even furthers. ‘Why do I think that?’ ‘Are not other people doing the same thing?’ Find prove that it is possible, contradicting your initial limiting belief.
Then redefine your scripts. Because these imposed scripts will limit you. Instead of thinking I can’t do this. Think I can do X despite Y.
This is a hard and elusive problem – but it can be countered!
#8 Forgive yourself and others
We all fuck up in life.
It’s a good idea to remind yourself everyday of your mistakes. And make yourself feel very miserable.
No of course not!!
You should learn from your mistakes. Absolutely. But wallowing in negative feelings won’t help. There is little you can change about past events. It has happened.
Instead: Own up to it, fix the problem if you can, forgive yourself, learn and move on. Don’t waste time and energy feeling bummed out about it.
Take the time to forgive yourself for mistakes.
Also – stop holding grudges. It is no good to keep being mad or grieved at others for their mistakes. Let go of it, you’ll release yourself from emotional poison.
Forgiveness allows you to focus on the now and the future instead of dwelling in the past.
#9 Be Self Reliant
Part of being confident is you know everything will be all right. Especially when shit hits the fan.
Got dumped? Got laid off? Dust yourself off, and tell yourself it will be all right.
No spiraling down in destructive self-pity. No bouts of whining and comfort seeking from friends and family.
Of course you can mourn. You can be sad or melancholic. It is not about being happy and joyful all the time. We all experience a wide range of emotion. Important emotions that are part of the human experience.
But inside, you know you the bad times will pass.
So you will tell yourself.
You will feel good and grow stronger in the future.
#10 Don’t take yourself too seriously
We are all insignificant bags of meat and bones. Trying to make meaning of a collection of random events called life.
People seeking power, fame and money are just looking for that bliss they had as a child. When life wasn’t that hard, when we weren’t putting so much pressure on ourselves.
Were you taking things seriously back then? I guess not right. Is there any reason to be serious about everything now? In a world filled with randomness? No reason at all.
Go with the flow and laugh about your own mistakes, successes and theatrics!
The world’s a stage and we are best in fooling ourselves with our performances! Choose the role you want and enjoy it. Knowing fully well, it is all a game if you just choose to play and have fun.
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. -Elbert Hubbard
Becoming confident comes at a price.
A change of heart and mind. Believe me, it is well worth it. If you succeed, you will still have ups and down in life. But also a steady level contentment. An anchor of stability that keeps you going without all too much problems.
So how can you possible make this shift? Small consistent steps. Here are some action to get started:
- Define your own values
- Sit down and reflect, evaluate and define what is important to you
- Reflect and refine your values over your life
- Live true to them
- Start a meditation practice to gain insight and control over your mind
- Stop watching social media compulsively
- Read positive, growth focused books, blogs and movies
- Start slow, you will get there step by step. Start taking control and responsibility for your mind.
I love to hear your thoughts on all this. Let me know what opened your mind? Where are you struggling to become confident?
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