It is absolutely insane that some people think confidence is an innate quality that people are born with. Nothing could be further from the truth. Confidence isn’t something that you have at all times, it is situationally dependent and something that must be nurtured. People who are highly confident in their abilities can have their confidence diminished in an instant, and for those people, it can be incredibly difficult to recover. In this article, we will explore the situations that erode feelings of confidence and learn two critical skills for recovering, fast!
At the heart of confidence is a feeling that we are capable of handling the situation in front of us, that we can rely on our abilities or knowledge to take us across the threshold. Sure, we can feel confident and see our successes in most situations. But what happens if we up the pressure and difficulty; or when you are doing something that is incredibly important to you. Perhaps it is something that defines you as a person. What happens if it is something new, where you don’t necessarily know how to succeed or what to do.
It is important to note that we are incredibly lucky to face situations that cause us to question our levels of self-confidence. It is a clear indicator that we are on the path to growth. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are questioning yourself, take a moment, and give yourself a pat on the back, you might be about to level up.
Consider this situation, and realize that the core concept applies to nearly every situation where we are facing a challenge. A goalie made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, which for those of you that don’t know hockey it is the last series in the playoffs. It is the big stage, he has practiced his entire life, played in the league for years, and everyone knows that he is a top-quality player. He has been dreaming of this moment since childhood.
The puck drops starting the first game, and the league’s top scorer on the opposing team catches a perfect pass and he scores. This moment completely throws our goalie off his game. A sense of anxiety creeps in, and in his head he starts questioning himself. He asks, am I good enough to be here? Can I play against this guy? Am I going to blow it? How does this goalie recover in time to get back into the game; can he or is he done?
We have all been in a similar situation, we walk in feeling that we have it under control, that we know what we are doing, then something unexpected happens and we are shaken, our feelings of confidence are ripped from us. We need a tool for getting us back into the game.
In these tense moments, it is highly unlikely that you will recover unless you have been trained or have trained yourself through facing multiple situations like this in the past. The sad news is that some people never recover from these types of injuries to confidence and their lives are dramatically affected
Some lucky people have incredible support networks that help them to overcome these situations and regain confidence. For those of us that don’t or who want to develop this skill on our own, there are a series of steps you can take to train yourself to get your head back into the game...always, no matter the situation!
The skills are split into two distinct steps that help with mental strength. They help to create awareness and control. The first is mindfulness and the second is logical failure analysis and acceptance
Mindfulness is incredibly important because in situations of high stress when the emotions are overwhelming, we need to have the ability to gain control over our thoughts and bring us back to the present moment. This was a skill developed in Zen Buddhism and was designed to help the Samurai remain present in battle.
To start mindfulness training we suggest a simple mindful breathing activity. People think mindfulness and meditation are about clearing your head of all thoughts; it isn’t. Mindfulness is about having control over your focus, having the ability to shift your thoughts and attention to what you chose to have a focus on. It is often the first skill in high performance training, from Olympians to hedge fund traders.
This doesn’t mean you can control or change your emotions, it means that you can function in spite of how you feel.
Set the timer for longer periods after you have completed two weeks’ worth of training and you feel comfortable meditating for a longer period.
Logical Failure Analysis and Acceptance
This activity may be more difficult than mindfulness for some people. It is challenging because it requires a deeper level of self-exploration and can bring up some uncomfortable feelings or thoughts. If people think they are perfect and are uncomfortable with processing failure this will be exceptionally difficult. If you fit into that category, you need this activity. This activity cannot be done in the heat of the moment and needs to be practiced before entering into a challenging situation. This activity will help to boost confidence. If practiced it will help you to quickly move past setbacks and mistakes in the heat of the moment.
- Identify a failure you have experienced in the past and write it down?
- Why was this failure important or meaningful to you? Write down why it was important?
- How did this failure make you feel about yourself?
- Did the experience make you question your confidence? If so, how?
- Question those feelings and thoughts, are they true? Important factors to consider are whether there were any factors that contributed to the failure. Were you prepared? Did you have unrealistic expectations?
- Are there any steps you need to take to be prepared for next time?
- Did you learn any lessons about yourself personally or about the status of your current skills?