Overview: Imagine if confidence was sustainable. Or, if confidence could be used only in support of making good things happen. What would your life, profession and our world look like via this type of lens?
There are few things in life that we don’t have to work to maintain in some way, yet there are many other aspects of our life we need to continuously work on. Perhaps improve, but ultimately accept and come to terms with. One of these areas is confidence.
When I was researching this topic, I was interested in finding out at what age do we become aware of being confident? As I was reviewing information, I came across a wonderful sentence in the opening of the article I was reading. It referred to the link between a person’s early self-esteem and confidence. The sentence which stood out expressed that “Self-esteem is your child’s passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness.”. It went on to also say that self-esteem “is the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult.” Wow! That’s a powerful statement.
Now imagine if everyone had an idyllic childhood which laid out the perfect foundation for us to have our self-esteem and confidence built on? Some of us do, but many of us don’t. Even if our foundation started out strong, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be weakened by events which happen in our lives. The type of events that chip away at our foundation, and without addressing these chips or cracks, add up and end up eroding our confidence foundation.
For me personally, I recall a distinct moment in time that I understood what it meant to have my confidence take a hit. It happened in a second-grade math class when I was called up in front of the class to visually show how to get to the answer of a math problem. I was randomly asked by the teacher to do this. As I stood in front of the class unaware of how to accomplish what I was asked to do, or how to articulate this, I was overwhelmed by emotions. The first one was fear, followed by embarrassment and then ultimately an enormous crack in my confidence foundation.
Ultimately, I ended up in tears in front of the class. What was worse than this, was that I did not have any experience to draw from with how to contend with the way I was feeling. However, this experience stands out in my mind as the first time my emotions were tied to my confidence.
As I think back to that day many decades ago, I believe I realized I needed to find a way to build up confidence. To come up with a solution from having to experience those type of negative emotions again. Or, at least not frequently.
Although I realized early on I was never going to be a math genius, I was OK with that. However, finding out what I was good at became something I put myself on an early journey to figure out. Of course, being so young, I didn’t realize that I was intentionally trying to solve my own challenge to having experienced what it is like to have your confidence rocked. However, as I think back, this was essentially what I was doing, and have continued to do my entire life.
You could say my first experience with having my confidence being challenged turned out well. Perhaps you also might be under the impression that I had an easy road to working on building up my confidence? This couldn’t be further from the truth, as I continued to struggle in school. Why? Because no one realized I was dyslexic. In fact, I did not officially find out I was until I was tested in college at the age of 21. Yes, finding this out made many experiences in my life come into focus in terms of having a reason why I struggled academically, yet I still persevered to obtain strong grades sheerly based on tenaciously doing do.
So, do I think there is a bridge or a way for people to increase their confidence? At any point in their lives? Yes, I do, and it is something I have like most people who have figured out the confidence equation, work on all the time. I do this, because as I mentioned earlier, confidence can be fleeting, and it needs to be nurtured to maintain it.
To describe to others how to develop or increase their confidence, I can offer the following suggestions:
- Find one thing you are good at. It doesn’t matter what it is. Focus on becoming exceptional at it, and draw from this like it is your confidence battery.
- I’m certain you are good at more than one thing. However, do you know what your top talents are? When I found out what mine were, it was a liberating day, and allowed me to finally be able to focus on what I was good at, versus focusing on trying to fix or become better at things I did not have a talent for.
- Visualize yourself in a really happy place or time in your life. Consider the factors which contributed to this experience. Can you repeat aspects of this?
- Do you surround yourself with people who build you up, or tear you down? Or, perhaps it’s a mix. What if you could edit out some of the people who chip away at your confidence? I don’t subscribe to someone saying this is impossible. It might be harder to accomplish, but it will be worth achieving.
- Seek out one person who can be your “confidence champion”. This person is someone who never lets you down, and always helps to build back up your confidence during those times you might be struggling on your own to do so.
- Commit to embracing that you will need to continuously work on your confidence, as like a vine, it can wither without care.
Building your confidence bridge can actually be fun, although it will take hard work to accomplish. However, when we have confidence, it can positively impact our lives in numerous ways that will be worth putting in the effort to do so. One of them is being happier and healthier. Now go out and start building that bridge, and be proud of showing the world what it looks like.
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