Building Confidence

One of the constant issues that I am confronted with in psychotherapy, is confidence. I hear from so many clients that they are not confident in their abilities, confident in themselves, and confident that they can do the right thing(s) when push comes to shove. Inevitably, when I ask them what they would like to get out of therapy, and/or what they would like to achieve, I frequently hear that they would like to be more confident.

First of all what does it mean to be confident? Let me begin, by explaining what it is not.

When an individual is not confident, they have absolutely zero belief in themselves. They do not believe that they can achieve anything that most people can do (or completely take for granted). In my office, it may be presented as something like this:
‘I just don’t understand why I cannot do this simple task! It is so easy.. others do it with absolutely no thought at all.. but me? I just feel stuck. I feel like I have no ability to move forward and just get it done’ (whatever it is in their individual case).
Usually, when I dig a little deeper, it becomes apparent, that the only thing holding them back from performing the task (s) at hand, is them. There is an old saying that, ‘you become what you believe’. And when you believe that you cannot do something, you will in fact make that happen. And the reverse is true as well- when you believe that you can do something, you are likely to make that happen. Piggy backing off of that last statement, how does one develop confidence, or, improve it?

The following are techniques and tips that I regularly use, that I have found to be effective myself, and in the lives of those that I have counseled:

1. Visualize what you want to be. Everything so they say, starts with a dream. For example, with the Olympics currently airing, this gives a fine case in point. I highly doubt that the athletes competing in the Olympics just woke up one day, got out there, and just made it happen. No, at some point, they had to have visualized what they wanted to do. They worked hard, with a goal in mind-but it didn’t just happen overnight. It had to start with a dream.

2. Help Others. Do some kind of volunteer effort. I cannot tell you, how often I hear from those that regularly volunteer in some capacity, how strong it makes them feel-and how capable. It feels good to help those in need-and it makes you feel better about you.

3. Set yourself up to win. Recently, I blogged about how New Years Resolutions do not work. They never have, and they never will. Why? Because they are way to big, and global. You have to start small-with small, incremental baby steps. Daily, weekly, monthly goals that will all add up in the end to big wins. (Hint: I am a huge fan of bullet journaling in this regard).

4. Get used to rejection, and actually strive to make it happen. What do I mean by that? Who the heck wants to get rejected purposefully? Ask people for impossible things. Ask them to do something for you, that you know hands down-they cannot do. In this regard (counterintuitive as it may seem), you start to get used to hearing, ‘no, I cannot do that for you’, ‘no, that is not possible’. And in return, you get used to making it happen-on your own.

5. Question your inner critic. One of my most favorite techniques to use in therapy is what I call the ‘courtroom procedure’. If you believe that you are incapable, worthless, hopeless, etc. I will ask folks to prove it to me in a court of law. Bring in the evidence that says that you cannot achieve (X, Y, Z), and prove it to me, as if you were in court. Most of the time, what we find, is that there is no evidence, and in a true courtroom? The judge would laugh you right out of there!

6. Do the thing or things that scares you. The best way to explain this one, is to give a personal example. I used to have a horrible fear of roller coasters. It was so bad, I did not step a foot in an amusement park for the better part of 20 years. Then, I decided, that I needed to get the issue in check. I was missing out on too many opportunities to go to Cedar point with friends and felt left out. So what did I do? I took my own advice. I jumped out of an airplane. And then I did it 2 more times. Once you have done that? A roller coaster is nothing! (Now, I am not saying you have to jump out of a plane.. but you get my drift 😊

7. Create personal boundaries. There is an incredible power that comes with telling others ‘no’, and not feeling like a doormat. I often have people start with using the word, ‘maybe’ if ‘no’ seems too difficult at first. ‘Maybe.. can I get back to you on that? I need to check my schedule’. Then, it buys the person time to really reflect if they have it within them to do what the other person is asking of them. When the ability to not agree to everything that is asked of you becomes more of a habit? Confidence soars.

***Side and ending note***:
Those of you who have followed my boat rocking quotes, and prior blog, will note that all 7 of these tips, coincide with being a boat rocker. Boat rockers exude confidence, which is often what makes them so scary and admirable all at the same time. But all of these are not characteristics that one is just born with and are inherent. They all develop over the course of time, and anyone-and I do mean, anyone-can develop them.

Happy Confidence Building! Until next time! 🙂