When it comes to building self confidence, reading an inspirational motivational quote every day, attending a self esteem seminar, hypnotizing yourself with a youtube video, or staring at yourself in the mirror repeating a mantra of "I am strong and self confident" are important initial steps. But getting stuck at these steps will not ultimately change your life. You must keep moving forward. You must transition into TAKING ACTION!
Does a "builder" ever actually build anything without taking action? "Building" self confidence is no different.
We continue to build self confidence by doing, not just by reading, listening, or watching. For example, if you want to improve your confidence when it comes to public speaking, you can read about it, watch others do it, and tell yourself you can do it repeatedly. While that prep work might be beneficial, it's not enough to garner true confidence. Because when it comes time to get up there in front of everybody and deliver your presentation, if it's not something you have experience with already, nothing in what you studied beforehand will prepare you for the emotional and physiological feelings your body will go through as you stutter and fidget your way through what will likely feel like as though you are being scrutinized under a judgmental microscope. It can be intense!
"But it's so scary!"
So how do we gain confidence with public speaking? Or when it comes to making new friends? Or dating? Or confronting your neighbor about that bush that's pushing over your property line? Or taking on the bully that likes to push your buttons? Or standing up for yourself with the hypercritical family member? Or not letting that boss at work who looks down on you take credit for what you did?
Tip #1: It's okay to be afraid, but not afraid to fail.
Whatever it is we lack confidence in, we acquire confidence by DOING those things, not avoiding them. It's okay to be afraid to do them. It's even more okay to feel afraid while you're doing them. It's also okay to royally mess up while doing it (it's better to do that rather than do nothing at all). There's only one thing you don't want to fear, and that is to NEVER be afraid to fail! Sometimes we place too much on our shoulders with high expectations. How in the world can we expect to go into a new territory that scares us and perform perfectly? Yet, that is what we focus on when we feel like we are not good enough. Somehow we get this crazy idea in our heads that we should be better than we actually are and that since we are not that way now, we never will be.
Tip #2: Take consistent baby steps
This is why I love whoever came up with the term "baby steps". It's a fundamental truth that works on all levels. When building self confidence, the baby step rule applies here as well. Reading inspirational quotes, watching motivational videos, or hearing a pep talk to boost your self confidence can be the first baby step, but there are MANY more steps to be taken to obtain real world, hardened self confidence.
Will a kid who's learning to ride a bike inevitably fall off the bike at some point? Absolutely. Does that mean they shouldn't get back on the bike after they fall and keep going? Absolutely not. Does that kid not get a little better every time they practice? Sure they risk falling again but that risk lessens as they gain more experience riding the bike. Every practice session is another baby step, until one day, after tons of steps have been taken, riding the bike is now second nature. After years of riding a bike does this kid have to hear a pep talk or repeat in his head "I can do this" over and over again? Of course not! Strong self confidence has set in and is now unshakeable and ironclad.
Tip #3: Keep going until self confidence isn't even a concern anymore
In time, after repeated practice, self confidence develops as a side effect. It's not something that you can wish for and one day get lucky with as if you won the confidence lottery. You have to consistently put one foot in front of the other. Don't get stuck on the first baby step. Keep moving. Keep doing. Acknowledge it's scary, but don't let that stop you. Know that in time, after repeated practice, the fear will lessen and the self confidence will naturally increase.