How Do You Build Self-Confidence?
Years ago while running an at-home daycare, I came to realize that we're all born with an innate sense of self-confidence. Every single child under the age of five that I have ever observed has had a strong self-confidence in at least one area of their life. Most kids had confidence in all areas of their lives. It seems to me that they systematically lose that confidence and it's replaced by an inner critic. Quite often it's the child's home life, but sometimes it's the schools, neighborhood kids, extended family, or some other person who unknowingly destroys the child's belief in themselves. Children have to be told they aren't good enough, strong enough, smart enough, talented enough to accomplish whatever it is they're trying to do. Unfortunately, most of us are told exactly that. So, how do we rebuild that sense of self-confidence?
The first thing I want you to do is to imagine that you had an ideal loving emotionally supportive childhood. Think about what kind of person you would have been if you had been raised to believe in yourself and in your natural gifts and talents. What were those gifts and talents? What were you really good at? What kinds of activities came easy for you? Now write down a list of talents, traits, attributes, and gifts that you loved and probably excelled at before you were convinced that you weren't any good at them. Choose items from that list for the next step.
Self-confidence is broken a piece at a time. So you're going to rebuild it a piece at a time. Pick things from your list and plan out tiny baby steps. Were you meant to be a great artist? Then start out by doodling. Just start carrying a pencil and paper around with you and allow yourself to absentmindedly doodle little pictures. Eventually, allow the passion to find it's way through you and you will begin to draw bigger and better, adding paints or whatever medium you were always meant to use. Were you supposed to be a musician? Then start humming little tunes in your head, begin playing around with an instrument. If it's possible, carry an instrument around with you and whenever you're bored or have some downtime, just sit and absentmindedly allow your fingers to play with it until the music within you begins calling to you again. Whatever the thing, pick something from your list and begin to play with it without paying a lot of attention to being perfect or talented or anything else. Just hold the tools and space out awhile so that you can get out of your own self-consciousness and just play with the tools. Nobody has to know if you don't want them to.
Repeat this process as much as you can. Keep picking up pieces of yourself on that list and adding them back into your sense of self. Don't wait until you've become really good at the first new skill before picking up another one. Just play with each item on your list as the mood crosses you. There's no need to beat yourself up for not being super talented because in reality all you are doing is simply playing with toys that remind you of your childhood. Allow your inner child, inner teenager, inner artist, inner musician to simply play. Eventually, you will come to realize one day that you do have natural gifts and talents and that will go a long way towards building your self-confidence.
That's all good and well if your confidence problems center around skills, but what if your lack of self-confidence happens to be in the interpersonal relationships area? Are you painfully shy? Too afraid of rejection to even reach out to connect with others? Do you beat yourself up for not looking just so? Depending on the severity of your self-sabotaging belief system, you may want to get a professional therapist to help you with this. If it's not too bad, but you have less self esteem then you would like to have, then ask someone that you trust to help you with this part. Ask your friend to point out examples of other people who look or act like you. For example, if you think you're fat and everyone says you're not, then have your friend point out to you other people who are built like you. Have them compare your figure to someone famous. Chances are they won't say Orson Wells! Few people are really horribly fat. Eventually, it'll sink in that you are not really as fat as you think you are. If you're really worried that people will think you're stupid or dull when they first meet you, then have your friend rehearse with you so that you can feel comfortable making small talk with new people.
What if through practicing a new skill or through working on social skills and your personal image with a friend, you find out that you need to actually work on something? Maybe you do have a few pounds to lose. Maybe you need singing lessons. Okay, so be it. That's not a reason to quit moving forward with building upon your fragile new sense of confidence. Just go get the help, the lessons, the workout routine, the coaching or whatever else it is that you need to continue moving forward. There will always be teachers and coaches of some sort because there will always be people reaching beyond where they already are. The only problem with a low self-confidence is that we stop giving ourselves permission to learn new things. The fact that we don't know how to be or do everything perfectly is not a good reason to lose confidence in ourselves. As long as you can play at new things and can learn, then you are able to improve and grow. At some point, turn around and look at how far you have come. Pride will show itself.
Copyright 2004, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge
Skye Thomas is the CEO of Tomorrow's Edge, an Internet leader in inspiring leaps of faith. She became a writer in 1999 after twenty years of studying spirituality, metaphysics, astrology, personal growth, motivation, and parenting. Her books and articles have inspired people of all ages and faiths to recommit themselves to the pursuit of happiness. After years of high heels and business clothes, she is currently enjoying working from home in her pajamas. To read more of her articles, sign up to receive her free weekly newsletter, and get free previews of her books go to www.TomorrowsEdge.net.