Building Self-Confidence: How to Initiate a Virtuous Cycle
Copyright 2005 Jeff Griswold, Effective Learning Systems, Inc.
It's no secret that self-confidence is very important to achieving success in any area of life. The thing about self-confidence is that it is very sensitive to our personal experience and is inherently instable. In other words, your self-confidence has a "snowball affect." And it can snowball in a positive direction or it can snowball in a negative direction. Here's how it works:
How the "Negative Snowball" works
1. If you start out with low self-confidence (see below to learn more about how this happens), you're less likely to take on challenges or try new things. 2. On the rare occasion that you try to accomplish something, your low self-confidence can sabotage your efforts and you're much less likely to succeed. 3. Your lack of accomplishment and your failures reinforce your low self-confidence. 4. Then it's back to step 1 and the cycle repeats; limiting your ability to live a better life.
How the "Positive Snowball" works 1. If you have self-confidence, you're more likely to attempt just about anything, so you try more things. 2. And when you attempt something with confidence in your abilities, you're very likely to succeed. 3. As a result, your success increases your self-confidence. 4. Return to step 1 and repeat, and repeat, and repeat until you reach your full potential!
Wearing a Groove in Your Brain At the risk of over-simplifying a phenomenally complex process, what's happening in your brain is that these snowball cycles "wear a groove" through the vast array of neurons and synapses. So, neurologically you are physically carving a path of least resistance through your brain. With enough reinforcement, you develop a reflex to certain kinds of stimuli.
For example, if a smoker tries to quit smoking and fails 'and he allows a negative snowball cycle to take place 'he'll lose confidence in his ability to quit. And he'll eventually develop a negative reflex to the idea of quitting. Once that happens, if anyone suggests that he quit or someone offers a new way to try to quit, his brain will automatically reject the possibility. In his brain, the mere suggestion of quitting will trigger an impulse that will follow that well-worn path of least resistance; the path that equates "trying to quit" with "failure."
But this works the other way, too. A positive snowball cycle will wear a groove that creates a positive reflex. We've all known people like this. They're the ones who are eager to try anything and seem to succeed at everything. And in the rare occasions when they fail, they are undeterred. The positive reflex they've created in their brain allows them to learn from their mistakes and equate "failure" with "I'll do even better next time!"
How Does the Low Self-Confidence Cycle Start?
Unfortunately, virtually everyone has been programmed from childhood with negatives that make us believe we can't do things that we are innately capable of doing. A lot of it is self-imposed programming. If we fail to do something perfectly the first time we try it, it is only human nature to begin to believe that we can't do it.
We also receive negative programming from others that can greatly impact our self-confidence. We are told repeatedly as a child "You can't do this" or "You'll never be able to do that." If we accept this programming 'which, again, is only human nature 'our self-confidence is weakened accordingly.
Take a moment now to think back on your own life. Think about the things that you've been led to believe you cannot attain but that you know intellectually are entirely possible. It could be anything; a certain level of income; academic achievement; great athletic performance; success at love, etc. If you're like most people, it won't take long to come up with a sizable list.
Fortunately, when some people are told they can't do something, they refuse to accept that programming and go on to prove that they indeed can. For example; 'Beethoven's teacher said he was hopeless as a composer. 'Thomas Edison's teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything 'Leo Tolstoy, the author of War & Peace, was told he couldn't learn 'Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4, didn't read until he was 7. His teacher called him mentally slow. 'One of the early teachers of the great opera singer Enrico Caruso said he had no voice at all & could not sing.
There are many other examples, but the point is that each and every one of us has given up on at least one thing because we lacked the confidence to try! And the world has undoubtedly been robbed of the great contributions of countless gifted people because of such negativity.
How to Build Your Self-Confidence The good news is that a negative self-confidence cycle is completely reversible! You can learn how to eliminate existing negative thought reflexes and replace them with positive thought reflexes. By mastering a few easy techniques you'll be able to recognize and reject negative programming before you allow it to begin to erode your confidence.
There are dozens of techniques to help you build your self-confidence and self-esteem. These include: 'Positive Affirmations 'Guided Visualization 'Mental Imagery
' Goal-Oriented Meditation 'Breathing Techniques ' Subliminal Programming 'Whole-Brain Learning
Here's one simple technique you can start using today that will help you initiate a virtuous cycle of improved self-confidence.
Using Positive Affirmations to Build Self-Confidence
Positive Affirmations are carefully-worded positive statements that you repeat to yourself and are designed to establish new thinking patterns in your mind. Using affirmations is a very effective way to build self-confidence. It seems simple 'and initially it can actually be a little uncomfortable 'but remember, what you're trying to do is to wear a new groove in your brain. You're trying to create a new path of least resistance and establish a positive reflex in your mind. And the best way to create a new reflex is through repetition of positive thoughts, images and feelings.
At the end of this article, I've included a small handful of powerful affirmations for you to begin using today. The way to use affirmations is to repeat the statements to yourself (out loud or silently). When you repeat an affirmation, feel it, believe it, and know it! Put some positive emotion into it. Emotion-backed programming is the most powerful and long lasting. Allow yourself to experience the feelings of joy, satisfaction, power and self-confidence as you do each affirmation. Make each one a true part of your reality.
Use your favorite affirmations routinely throughout the day, and really feel them. When you do you will eventually make a quantum leap. You will suddenly be far beyond the doubts that accompany wishing, hoping, daydreaming, and even believing. You will enter the zone of knowing.
When you enter the zone of knowing, supreme self-confidence is automatically there. All doubt is gone. You know you can do it. You know it will happen, just as surely as if it had already happened. And quite likely at some dimension it has happened - for you! When you enter the zone of knowing, your self-confidence is unshakable and your untapped potential is released. You feel invincible!
Another great way to use affirmations is to say them while looking in a mirror. Say them with feeling and soon you'll become aware of how powerful your eyes are. It's said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that each of us carries in our eyes the exact indication of our rank. We send messages with our eyes that show how we think of ourselves and how self-confident we are. And that influences how others respond to us. The more our eyes bespeak self-confidence and self-esteem, the more other people are likely to hold us in high esteem. Some people have developed a penetrating gaze that makes it seem as if they can look into your very soul. As you practice your affirmations in the mirror, you'll see this in your own eyes and soon others will feel the confidence that you project.
Sample Affirmations 'I now free myself from false limits 'I choose to be self-confident 'I now feel self-confident 'I radiate self-confidence 'I reject negativity at all levels of consciousness 'I love turning negatives into positives 'The more positive I am, the more confident I am 'I now think as a positive person 'I breath as a positive person 'I feel positive and confident 'I am intelligent 'I am capable 'I speak with self-confidence 'My body language projects self-confidence 'People sense my self-confidence, which gives them confidence in me 'I am positive and confident 'I'm becoming aware of my true potential 'I enjoy being positive 'Being positive builds my self-confidence 'I feel positive and confident 'I am positive and confident
Start Today There are many other powerful techniques that you can use to improve your self-confidence and build your self-esteem. But this will get you started in the right direction.
The most important thing to remember is that repetition and positive emotions are critical to changing the way you think. While it's possible to do this on your own, most people need a defined program for the direction and support they need to commit to a change.
Many people find that listening to audio programs (like those available at http://www.efflearn.com) is the best way to provide the consistency that's needed to develop new, healthy, positive thought habits. In addition to Positive Affirmations, the best audio programs will incorporate a variety of techniques including guided visualizations, mental imagery, goal-oriented meditation, subliminal programming, whole-brain learning, and more.
So, employ whatever resources you need to commit to improving your self-confidence. Whether it's an audio program or help from your friends, family or therapist 'your self-confidence is too important to allow it to wither away. Be confident that you can improve your confidence and it will change your life.
About the author:
Jeff Griswold is the President of Effective Learning Systems, Inc. http://www.efflearn .com, the leading creator of audio CDs and tapes for helping you build self-esteem and self-confidence. Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-943-1660.