I believe there is a probability that, if you just opened a link with this title, you are interested in increasing your self confidence. Somehow, you learnt that self confidence will boost your career, make you someone that everybody wants to be friends with, a better lover and a happier person. And, in our minds, we have all built an — sometimes quite abstract — image of what would be like to be a more self confident person. And usually this image is pretty different, and maybe distant, from what we are today.
For me, for instance, being self confident was very much about looking in the mirror and enjoying what I see (which meant truly finding myself beautiful and attractive everyday). Also, it had a lot to do with extroversion and public speaking. I have always thought that, if I was a confident person, this would mean being outgoing and able to talk to anybody, anytime — which is an immensely difficult task for me, as an introvert. It would also mean becoming a great public speaker, without any fear of being awful, or any fear of anything at all. Because, of course, I would trust myself and my capabilities so much, and nobody and no critics would ever be able to shake this.
Your self confidence idea may be very different from mine, but you may also be in this struggle because, like me, this is something that you are far from being now. Because like me, you think that to be confident you must become someone that you are not: someone better, stronger and much more capable. And because you are still not all these things, you just can’t be confident of yourself today. How could you, right? With so many skills lacking. With so many things yet to improve in yourself.
I have, since I can remember, seen myself as a very insecure person. So becoming confident was always on my list on things to improve. But a short time ago, thinking about it, I realized that trying to be confident was actually making me even more insecure. My image of confidence was so far away from what I was, that it made me believe that, before being able to trust myself, I just had to, basically, be born again.
If your vision of what a self confident person is like is different from what you are today, than I can tell, wanting to be confident is just mining your self confidence. It makes you want to be something that you are not and, by doing so, it gets you more and more distant from your self confidence each day. And even if you do achieve all these capabilities and status that you aim, you will still not be confident, because there will always be skills that you lack. There will always be people doing the thing that you do best, twice better than you do, with apparently half the effort. You will still want to be this someone else. You will still take other people as a reference.
A different approach
After realizing this, I got to the conclusion that being confident has much more to do with believing that you are already enough. You are enough even when you are an awful public speaker. You are enough even when you don’t have the best performance in your work, or the best grades at school. You are enough even if you are not the employee of the month. You are enough even if you don’t find yourself super beautiful everyday. Even if you don’t have a thousand friends. Even if you don’t have a hundred likes. You are still enough. And you have the right to love yourself.
I realized that being confident is actually a decision, not a list of things that you must become. It is when you decide that you will still love yourself, even if a loved one suddenly leaves you. You will still believe you are worth it, even if you are fired. You will still believe you are able, even if your biggest project fails. It’s not about being great and bright in front of many people. It is about knowing that maybe you will fail in front of many people, but this will not be the end of the world, because you will still have so many options in front of you and so many opportunities to try again.
You won’t think you are perfect but, instead, you will be humble enough to persevere even when there is a risk that you will fail. You won’t be fearless but, instead, you will be brave enough to face your giants and take the challenges anyway.
Find your balance
Trusting that you are enough is not about entering the comfort zone and sleeping there for the rest of your life. Not at all. It is actually a source of courage to keep trying and improving everyday.
Imagine that you have a battery that gives you energy to improve yourself. When you don’t believe you are enough no matter what happens, your battery is the kind that gives a boost in the first moments, but then ends up pretty fast, and you will need a very long time to recharge it. Depending on what happens or the kind or critics that you receive, this battery will never be recharged and you will give up on improving some parts of yourself, like many people do. You will forever avoid challenges related to these skills.
Now, if you are self confident, your battery is the kind that may end up sometimes, but you don’t depend on others to recharge it, you can do it by just remembering who you are and why you do what you do. And the time spent in this is infinitely smaller, before you can stand up and try again.
This may sound quite romantic, but this is not my intention, really. My intention is for it to sound more like an exercise. It doesn’t come by just reading something, it comes by practice. Each time you feel like a failure, or ugly, or alone, or insufficient, you must remind yourself that you are enough. That no matter what happens, you can — and will — always try again. And I mean literally reminding yourself: take some time to think (0r even better, write down) what is scaring or putting you down, and then all the reasons why this is not the end of the world. All the other possibilities that you have. And the conclusion that, no matter what, you are still enough. The more you say this to yourself, the faster you will actually believe it and become truly self confident.