Confidence doesn’t magically appear overnight, acquiring it takes time. It’s gained by doing something over and over again. You need to take that first step, expose yourself to situations outside your comfort zone, and then practice so many times that you can almost perform it with your eyes closed.
Riding a Bike
Think back to when you learned how to ride a bike. I’m guessing you didn’t become a pro in a day. (I definitely didn’t!) You most likely started with training wheels. If not, I assume when you jumped on the two wheeler you had a few falls resulting in scrapes and bumps.
Doubt ran through your mind, your palms started to sweat, and you may have asked yourself these questions: Can I do this? Will I crash? Will I break my arm? Someone most likely pushed you to continue trying, until one day you could ride around the block by yourself.
Now you look back and wonder why you were so scared in the first place. While practicing over and over again you grew confident in your abilities. Once you conquered your fear of crashing, your mind said ‘Hey, I’ve done this before. I know what to do. I can do this again!’
Applies to Anything
I can think of many situations where I’ve built confidence by taking that first step, facing a task I’ve never done before, and then continuing to practice over and over again. Most of these experiences came from athletics, but there are many areas life where this applies: public speaking, writing, cooking, designing, asking someone on a date…about anything!
I remember the process of learning to handstand walk. At first, being upside down was way out of my element. I had never done anything close to gymnastics besides the monkey bars at recess. The thoughts going through my head were pretty negative at first. ‘You aren’t coordinated enough.’ ‘Is a 6’1” girl supposed to walk on her hands?’ ‘Will you ever be able to do this?’
With some great coaching, encouragement from teammates, and hundreds of reps, I built confidence. With every rep I learned something new. It took time, but now I can kick up and start walking no problem.
As you put yourself into new situations you figure out what works and doesn’t. Sure, someone can tell you a thousand times how to do something, but until you experience it for yourself, you won’t build true confidence in your abilities.
Action Paired with Visualization
Visualization is a great tool to use alongside taking action. Visualizing yourself performing a task to perfection over and over increases your confidence. I’ve used this technique many times in athletics. Watching my team win a volleyball match or imagining myself performing a difficult workout. If I can see myself being successful, it feels like I’ve already done it. Then, when I physically take on the task, I have more confidence in my abilities. My mind tells my body that it can do it.
I’ve found great success in the confidence visualization builds, while creating focus and motivation. Our minds are truly amazing in what they can allow our bodies to do!
You’re not going to become confident sitting and wishing you could do something. Take action! Put yourself into unknown or awkward situations. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable allows you to gain confidence in things you once thought scary.
Go out there and learn something new or out of your element!