How to Develop Confidence
Sitting at my desk with sweaty palms, I read through the intake notes and jotted a few things down on my notepad. I’d recently finished Graduate School, opened a private practice, and this was my first client. I could feel my confidence dropping like a lead balloon as the seconds ticked onward.
In that moment I realized that I desperately wanted to understand confidence. To develop the ability to access confidence when I needed it the most.
Part of what we do at Novo Life Counseling is help individuals understand how confidence works and to learn how to develop it. So let’s start with the facts.
Lies about confidence:
Confidence is a personality trait and is baked into who we are.
Confidence is static and fixed.
You are born with a fixed amount.
The Truth about Confidence:
Confidence is a learned skill not a personality trait.
Confidence is dynamic.
You can grow in your confidence.
What I learned is that the amount of confidence that you have right now is a sum of the thoughts you think and the actions that you take. So here are the first two steps you need to take to begin developing real confidence.
Step 1: Stop Feeling Like a Fake
The first step is understanding what we call Imposter Syndrome. It is that sense that you aren't really who you say you are, and that you are faking the accomplishments that you achieve or are working towards. It is the feeling that somehow you fundamentally do not deserve success, and all of us believe this lie more often than we should.
What you need to know is that these feelings are natural, and that they are actually a good thing. Yes, that’s right. I said they are a good thing.
They are good because they are evidence that you are growing and pushing yourself into something new and challenging that will ultimately result in growth. Research about anxiety tells us that by simply telling yourself, “I am anxious, and I am ok” will actually reduce your anxiety over time. The same applies to the Impostor Syndrome.
Remind yourself of this truth statement: “I feel like I am faking it, and that is ok because that will change”. Say it out loud if you need to.
Step 2: Breaking the Cycle of Self Doubt
Take action. Self doubt is a habit, and it is a cycle. Fear of rejection feeds the cycle, and it usually goes something like this…
Overthink. Doubt. Overthink. Doubt. Feel worse. (repeat)
What generally happens to most of us is that we end up feeling really terrible at the end of this process. A fundamental rule is that feelings are natural and you do not control them. That’s right. You don’t have to feel guilty for what you are feeling. They come to you, good or bad, happy or sad.
What you choose to do and think is a choice.
It turns out that confidence at the end of the day, is literally just the decision to try.
Mel Robbins uses what she calls the 5 second rule. When you begin to hesitate or overthink, count 5-4-3-2-1 and move before your mind stops you. We learn from what we do, so by changing one little part of that cycle the whole system begins to shift. Instead of just thinking about starting that project you've been putting off, count down and immediately start working on it. Instead of avoiding a difficult conversation, count down and call the person back. This closes the gap and does not space for avoidance or talking yourself out of something that you really need to do. Sounds simple, but give it a try. It works.
I know for a fact that the amount of confidence you will have will be the sum of the thoughts you think, and the actions that you take. So take action today.
Thanks for reading.
If you want to talk more about confidence or specific challenges that are in your life don’t hesitate to shoot me a note in the comments below or directly at Drew@novolifecounseling.com. If you want to book an in person or telehealth session with Drew you can do that here.
Co-Founder, Novo Life Counseling