Confidence From the Inside Out: How To Develop a Mindset That Will Empower You
by JANIE LOUBSER
Reading Time: 5mins
“Just be confident!” It's the first piece of advice anyone will give you if you're about to give a presentation or speech; go on a first date, or if you want to make a good first impression. after all, Confidence is said to attract good people, good vibes and overall good fortune...
So, you can imagine my frustration when I found myself stuck in self-doubt as I was writing this article... how ironic. Just because I am seen as a respected Psychologist, don't for one second think that I've got it all figured out. Full disclosure: I have done quite a bit (read: a helluva lot) of work on myself to develop a more confident mindset, and so I thought “Hey, why don't I write a quick-and-easy article about it for our readers?”. Instead, it took a tremendous amount of effort on my part. My mind felt foggy and thick. My heart felt heavy and I was filled with an odd sense of dread. I usually enjoy the process of writing articles for Enliven, and so I had to stop for a minute and ask myself what was going on. All the while doubt was creeping in that I will ever finish my article in time. And besides, even if I could, it would probably suck. The truth was: I was afraid of failing. This fear put me in a trance-like state, blocking my ability to produce any decent ideas. And the harder I tried, the less I enjoyed myself.
In no time, the article I was looking forward to writing, had become a huge burden. Fortunately, the second I could observe the trance as something separate from me, and admit my fear of falling flat on my face, the previously immutable trance lifted! I could look at myself and laugh at the irony of it. In a flash, I realised the lesson here: If I want to write about confidence, I have to be willing to write about its shadow: the fear of failure. In order to feel confident we have to be willing to face our fears.
When I think about my conversations with my clients, their biggest and most common obstacle to success was invariably the fear of failure. But I've come to realise, that the mere act of noticing that you doubt yourself—and being honest about what you are afraid of—means that you are taking control by becoming a witness to your own mind. The moment I observed the trance, it somehow woke me up. And even though I still didn’t have a complete article, I did have my mind back! And this felt extremely empowering. This got me thinking: "Could confidence be the key to accessing your inner resources?" Think about it: when you can freely access your inner resources, you believe that you can achieve your goals—that which you set out to do. This, after all, is true confidence.
This realisation left me feeling super empowered and ready to write. This time, instead of focusing on the end result of a hypothetical or abstract article, I felt instantly inspired to write about what had just happened to me. This helped me focus on the present moment, and freed me from the concern I had about finishing the article on time. I could see that if we give in to fear—allowing it to override us—it can lead us to develop tunnel vision. In our stressed-out, myopic view, we tend to rush to some end goal and become impatient, missing crucial moments of wisdom, or even enjoyment. This brings me to the essential empowering mindset: enjoy the process. If you are only focused on achieving your goal, you will feel like a failure if you don’t realise it. But if you allow the process to challenge and change you, then you will gain so much more than the satisfaction of achieving your goal, as great as that is. You won’t feel like a failure if you know that you have learnt valuable lessons in the process of reaching your goal. Seen from this angle, you can't really lose. As the saying goes: “Sometimes you WIN, sometimes you LEARN”.
Once I finished writing about my experience I felt like I had achieved something awesome and I felt confident to take on more challenges. You see, by mastering one step I felt bolstered and motivated to take more steps. This is the power of momentum. When you first set out to achieve something worthwhile, there almost always seems to be a vast gap between where you are and where you want to be. This gap can often cause one to feel overwhelmed and this then triggers a chain reaction of insecure thoughts. This is why people often give up before even trying. The truth is that we are very vulnerable right after we have set a goal or had an idea. We are also very susceptible to other people’s opinions at this point. The best thing we can do is to just take it one step at a time. This doesn’t mean that you'll know what each step will be ahead of time, either. If we try to be too specific about how we are going to achieve the goal, we set ourselves up for undue pressure. Rather, start with something general that feels doable to you right away. Go for quick, easy wins to get you started and build up momentum. As you complete one step, choose the next step and the next. As long as you are moving you are creating a series of small successes and you avoid the all too familiar procrastination trap.
Having gone through the process of writing this article, I believe even more strongly in taking this step-by-step approach to attaining any goal. It forms the very foundation for the ENLIVEN GUIDES. The steps we lay out in the guides, provide you with a steady plan that—when followed—actually protects you from major failures and disappointments. Taking it one-step-at-a-time means that even if you experience failures, they will be minimal since you're not trying to do it all at once. Focusing on each step will help you notice the failure early on, allowing you to quickly give it your full attention, course-correct and steer yourself again in the direction of your goal.