Self-confidence and courage are a strange thing and there can be a balancing act that you need to perform to make sure you’re making the progress you want to make. When you don’t have enough confidence in yourself and what you’re getting ready to do, you won’t have the courage to take action and get started. When you have too much confidence and courage on the other hand, without the knowledge of what to do, it’s easy to get yourself in hot water. Here’s an example.
Let’s say you decide to go into business for yourself designing and maintaining websites for small businesses in your area. If you don’t have enough confidence in yourself and your abilities, you won’t get the business up and running. You’re not going to be comfortable approaching the small business owners in your area until you get more knowledge and expertise. And if you do, you’re not going to sound confident and convincing. The net result is that you won’t get your first handful of clients and the learning opportunities creating and maintaining actual websites and working with client brings. This definitely isn’t a good thing.
Now let’s look at the other side of the scale. What if you have too much confidence in yourself and your abilities and the courage to approach a bunch of business owners and tackle even the most difficult projects? Your idea is that you’ll figure it out as you go along. While that can sometimes work, there’s also a lot of risk in this approach and if you take it too far, it’s easy to mess up royally. This in turn could cost your customers a lot of business and hurt both their reputation and yours. This is also not a good thing.
The key then is striking a balance and finding that middle ground where you have enough courage and confidence to get started, get some experience, and learn “on the job”, without getting too cocky and getting yourself in way over your head. There’s a lot to be gained from saying yes and then figuring out what you need to do and what you need to learn, but it needs to be tempered to a point where you’re not way outside of your area of expertise.
Where are you right now regarding this balancing act? Considering that you are taking part in this challenge, I’m assuming that being over confident isn’t an issue for you. I hope this far into the challenge you are steadily moving toward that perfect middle ground. Keep going, keep working on getting that self-confidence and courage and start taking action. You may just surprise yourself and find out how much you’re capable of.
Yesterday we talked about negative thoughts and negative self-talk, what causes them and how they can sabotage us in our efforts to become more courageous and self-confident. I shared a few ideas with you about stopping these negative thoughts, but thought you could use a few more tools for this in your mental toolbox. That’s what today’s confidence hack is all about – stopping negative self-talk in its track. The earlier you can catch it and the faster you can stop it, the better.
Be On The Lookout
This is why it’s important to always be on the lookout for negative self-talk. Often we let it go on without realizing what we’re doing. We can’t take control of it unless we start to notice it. Start monitoring those internal monologues for negative thoughts so you can spot them quickly and deal with them appropriately.
Give It A Name
Start by giving a name and personality to that negative voice in your head. Call it the nag, the critic… whatever name feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to make it a silly name. It will help you take a lot of the power and influence that little voice in your head currently has right out of it. It will also help you to quickly notice what’s going on and stop it. “There goes Bob again…”
Put It In Perspective
Things are always worse in our head, aren’t they? That’s why we think when we do something embarrassing it seems so much worse than when someone else does it. That’s why it’s important to put that conversation that’s going on in your head into perspective. Instead of blowing up the negative and thinking that you ruined your relationship or career because of one little blunder or embarrassing moment, bring it down to what it really was… you said something stupid, or spilled coffee all over yourself in front of someone important. Here are some ideas for putting things into perspective:
Condition Yourself With A Rubber Band
If you’re struggling to catch the negative self-talk early and spiral down into negative thoughts instead before you can catch it, there’s a quick trick you can use to get into the habit of catching it early quickly. The main thing is to make yourself stop as soon as you realize that negative self-talk has taken hold. A quick way to do that is to use a rubber band. Put it around your wrist (make sure it’s not too tight), and as soon as you catch the negative self-talk, snap the rubber band. It won’t take long before you will notice the negative self-talk as soon as it starts and you won’t need to use the rubber band again.
In yesterday’s challenge post I talked about hearing that little voice in your head that tells you that you don’t need to do this, should have to do this, or can’t do this anyway so why even try. These are examples of negative thinking and negative self-talk. While we are still working on improving our self-confidence and courage, it’s not uncommon to have quite a bit of this negative thinking going on.
It’s an internal protection mechanism of sorts. When we are lacking confidence, we aren’t actually sure that we can do what we set out to do. Our mind then tries to protect us by talking us out of giving it a try. After all, if you don’t try, you can’t fail, right? At least that’s how our confident lacking subconscious things.
On a rational level, we know that never trying is just as bad as or even worse than trying and failing. When we try and fail, we always learn something. Taking risks is part of a happy, productive life and it’s what build courage and confidence.
Now that we know why we think these negative thoughts and try to talk ourselves out of the things we actually want to do, let’s go over some strategies for silencing these voices. Before we do that, I want to tell you that as your courage and self-confidence starts to increase, those voices will start to fade away on their own. In other words, this isn’t something you’re going to have to battle or work on throughout your life. Sure, negative self-talk and negative thinking will pop up here and there, but overall it won’t be a struggle in the long run.
The first step is to simply acknowledge but that it’s there and that it isn’t something that’s helpful or productive. I want you to realize that it’s ok to simply ignore that little voice in the back of your head when it’s warning you of failure and trying to talk you into not even trying. While there are certainly times when that same voice serves a good purpose (like talking you out of jumping from a bridge), it doesn’t benefit you when it tries to talk you out of going for run in the morning.
Another good strategy is to prepare counter arguments. You know the voice in your head isn’t completely rational and helpful. Focus instead on everything you have to gain from doing it anyway, or look at all the times you’ve succeeded in the past.
The most important lesson I want you to talk away from today’s post is that this negative thinking and self-talk will happen and that it’s something you need to look out for. Once you know what it is, it’s much easier to dismiss it and get to work.
Yesterday we talked about having bad days and setbacks and how they are normal and part of life. In other words, we all have days when we just don’t want to, or days when we hear that little voice in the back of our head that tells us that we’re wasting our time. On those days, I want you to employ today’s confidence hack which is to do it anyway.
That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? You may even be wondering right now what type of advice this is. Stay with me, I promise it will start to make sense, and there’s a little more to it then to telling you to just get over yourself and get stuff done.
There is a lot to be said about taking action and creating momentum. Getting started is often the hardest part, isn’t it? Think back on a day when you really didn’t want to go out for a walk or run in the morning. Instead of staying in bed and sleeping in, you made yourself get up, put on your shoes and by the time you were out the door and starting to move your body, it got easier to keep going. You may even have felt happy that you made yourself do. At the very least you felt relieved and proud by the time you got back.
This is what I mean about doing it anyway. This concept of getting started and creating momentum works in all areas of your life. It works just as well for exercising as it does for taking are of a big pile of laundry or a dreaded task at work. The key is to get started by doing it anyway.
When you have one of those days where you don’t want to do anything but sleep in or lay on the couch binging Netflix, think about what you should be doing today and pick the easiest item on the list. Do that to create some momentum. If you’re procrastinating tackling a big project, break it down into baby steps, or pick one small part of it that’s quick and easy to do. Go do that to … you guessed it… create some momentum.
Hopefully this is enough to get you over that initial hump and turn things around for you. If it isn’t, there are some other things you can try. Make that list of tasks you can check of that we’ve talked about in a previous post. Not only does it feel great to check things off the list, it also forces you to break bigger tasks up into smaller, more manageable, and less intimidating chunks.
Last but not least, try bribing yourself. You can spend the rest of the afternoon binging Netflix, if you get the yard cleaned up first. Come up with something fun and meaningful as a treat or bribe for yourself and start getting things done. I promise you’ll feel a big boost in confidence if you can make yourself do it anyway.
It’s time for another confidence hack. These are the simple, and easy to implement little tips and ideas that I will continue to share with you throughout this 30 Day Challenge. I encourage you to give each of them a try as I share them. Try them once or even better, implement them for a few days and see how you feel about it. If it’s helpful, keep using the hack. If it doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other tips and ideas along the way. The goal is to have a handful of tools at the end of the challenge that will help you continue with the new self-confidence and courage habits you’re building this month.
My tip for you today is to keep a journal. There are a couple of good reasons why you should start writing a journal and how it can help you.
The first is that it increases awareness and mindfulness. Sitting down to record what you’ve done and how you feel in a journal makes you stop and think about your day. Putting what has happened into words gives you time for reflection and a deeper understanding of everything going on. Writing or journaling can help you work through issues and problems and come up with new solutions, or at the very least a better understanding of them. It’s much easier to be confident and even courageous when we understand what’s happening.
Having a journal also gives you a record of what you’ve accomplished. If you’re feeling low and could use a boost in self-confidence, grab your journal and start browsing. It’s so easy to forget all those small successes and wins as time goes by. Keeping a journal where you record everything you are proud of is a great resource to have when you need to increase your confidence in yourself and what you can do.
How you keep your journal is up to you. Some people prefer to write in a notebook with a favorite pen. Others are much more comfortable typing away at the computer. Find a medium that’s comfortable for you and get in the habit of journaling daily. The format is up to you as well. Journal entries don’t have to be long, or take a lot of time to write. You can jot down a few bullets or lines that will serve as a memory aid for what happened that day. Or you can sit down and write long entries if that’s something you enjoy and if it’s something you find helpful. The most important part is that you start and figure out what type of journaling is right for you. Then make it a daily habit so you have it as a resource to build your courage and increase your self-confidence.
We all have things we want to do and look forward too, and things we dread doing. Roasting a chicken for dinner may be something you enjoy, while cleaning the toilet doesn’t make that list. While it would be fun to only do the things we enjoy, that isn’t feasible. What we can do, is use the things we’re good at, the things we enjoy doing, and the things that make us happy to boost our confidence so we have the energy and will-power to do the things we don’t like as much, but that also need to get done.
It’s very draining when everything we need to do each day are things we don’t enjoy. Our entire attitude is negative and it feels like an uphill battle. We feel defeated from step one. We’ve all had those days, or even times in our lives and it’s not a good feeling. It’s important to make sure you do something regularly that you’re good at, take pride in, and that you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be your favorite activity on a daily basis, but it should be something that you can do without too much effort.
For example, you may be good at putting together reports and compiling complicated data into an easy to read and digest format. It may not be your favorite thing in the world to do, but it’s something you know you’re good at. That can be a good daily task that will give you a boost in confidence.
Having a favorite hobby and making time to do that is another great option. Maybe you take a lot of pride in your garden, or love the feeling of finishing a woodworking or knitting project. If that gives you a boost of confidence and makes you happy, carve out some time for it regularly. Maybe you can work on your project for a half an hour before bedtime, or maybe you dedicate an afternoon to it on the weekend.
It’s important to incorporate these tasks and activities because they give you the energy and drive to tackle the stuff you dread (like cleaning the toilet). Start by thinking about what you’re either good at, or what you really love to do. Write it down so you have a short list of activities to work from that will boost your confidence on a regular basis. From there it’s simply a matter of making sure you incorporate at least one of them each day. Get in the habit of doing that and you’ll quickly start to notice a measureable improvement in your attitude and self-confidence. Use that positive energy to carry you through the tasks you don’t enjoy as much.