The word “confidence” dates back to the early 15th century. A direct descendent of the Latin word confidentia meaning “firmly trusting, bold” and confidere meaning “to have full trust or reliance.”
When I try to trace the roots of confidence in my own life it leads me to questions: When did I first hear of this concept? When did I first feel it? Who taught it to me? How did they first present it to me? How did I integrate that into my daily being?
When contemplating confidence, there are many areas to think of: The root of it, the implementation of it, and the strengthening and maintaining of it. But spending time to think about how confidence works in your own life will help you on your journey to having full trust and bold reliance in yourself, your partners, your life.
Perhaps it begins when we are very small: A parent celebrates a sculpture made out of Play-Doh or claps when a toddler points correctly to their nose after being asked, “Where is your nose?” We start to feel the rush of accomplishment. We start to discover and believe in ourselves, our potential, our talents. This root stays with us throughout our life experience. (If this was not your experience, you need to read this article.)
The first time you feel your confidence wane—whether it was taken from you or it deserted you on its own accord—is the first time you realize that confidence can be a fickle thing if not prepared, like a muscle, for battle. What is the training regimen? What is the recipe?
How can we maintain confidence in a world where the impulse is to attack or doubt it before acknowledging or nurturing it?
1. Know that you are not alone.
You aren’t a one-man army. Life is big and we are small, but there are so many things that are larger than us. Whether it’s your faith, family, friends, or community, you are a piece of a giant puzzle that you won’t always understand. A poem by Cara Alwill Leyba called “Still” says:
And there are still some things
that are bigger than me.
And there is humility in knowing
there are still some things
I need to grow into,
There are still some things
I am yet
to be shaped by.
2. Embrace the growth mentality so failure or bumps in the road don’t disturb you.
Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms “growth and fixed mindset.” According to Dweck, with a growth mindset, an individual believes their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others). People with fixed mindsets believe their gifts are innate, and that they remain the same throughout their life. Dweck found through 30 years of research that individuals with a growth mindset achieved more and understood that growth takes failing and getting back up; that input can be a game-changer; and if you just keep going, who you are and your confidence in your talents will grow. (To read a full article on this topic, click here.)
3. Identify your personal confidence boosters, and then, put them into your life.
What makes you feel great? A good book? A yoga class? Learning a new skill? Buying the adorable dress? Solving a problem for someone? Landing new business? Once you know your personal confidence boosters, life is not that different from a video game. As you travel along, confidence boosters need to be along your path so you can run into them and rack up the points! Investing in yourself will always make you feel stronger, empowered, capable, and those are fantastic things to feel. If you’re ever debating on, “Am I worth this investment? This financial cost? The time cost?” the answer is and always will be a resounding yes!
4. Celebrate yourself. Every dang day.
There is only one you. Repeating due to the importance of the message: There is only one you. You have unique thoughts, feelings, talents, and ideas. You have key opinions, questions and methods that this world needs. Remember that, every time you start your day. No one else can walk through this world like you. Celebrate that fact!
5. Ensure you’re with a healthy, confidence-fueling tribe.
My parents used to tell me to “be careful choosing my friends” because “you become like the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether we like to admit it or not, we absorb the behaviors, mentalities, attitudes, and theologies of our friend or family group. If they aren’t feeding you full of goodness (confidence, happiness, joy, empowerment), then what are they feeding you? Being fed things such as doubt, inconsistencies, lies, or anxiety doesn’t serve you or help with your confidence. It only eats away at you. Assess the people you’re with, how they make you feel, and the situations they put you in. If any of those things lead to empty places, those people are depleting you and need to go.
6. Analyze your current life situation.
Look at your work, your friendships, your finances, your free time. Are you in scenarios where you can feel success and be successful? Does your work offer growth for you? Do your finances offer you the freedom you desire? Do you have enough free time to enjoy life? Our day-to-day circumstances affect our confidence. If we are feeling good about the circumstances and opportunities we run into throughout the day, then our confidence can flourish.
7. Track your progress in numbers.
We all love a good statistic! It proves that we aren’t standing still. Recording your life on paper can help you feel that you are growing every single day. If you’re trying to lose or gain weight; if you’re trying to run a marathon; if you are paying off student loans, no matter what you’re trying to achieve, our confidence and faith in ourselves grow when we can see the ticker moving in a favorable direction. It helps us see where we are and where we are trying to go.
8. Do what you say you’ll do.
A friend once told me, “If you say you’re going to wake up and go to the gym at 5 AM, but then hit the snooze button every morning, you start to not believe in yourself.” If you set a goal, do it! You know you can! Do what you set out to do for yourself so that you can create a pattern of successful behavior, and then, watch your confidence soar!
9. Throw away any bad thoughts about yourself and others.
Negativity begets negativity. When you’re starting to feel low on yourself (or others) we tend to get really low. Our comments, our eye rolls, our sighs; all of these energy-sucking and confidence-draining activities get stuck in our body and the next thing we know, we’re feeling pretty bummed about everything. Practice staying positive, even when that is the last thing you want to do. It puts a tourniquet on the rush of negativity that we’re prone to fall into as humans.
10. Own your story.
Brené Brown teaches that when we own our story, we can change the end. No matter what you’ve been through or what trauma you’ve experienced, you are greater and can overcome. You are stronger than your temporary circumstances. Own your story, actively work to change the ending every day, and travel onward. You are a fierce warrior, and you can process your trauma, your disappointments, and your challenges. Then, you can embrace it all and live on.
Your walk through life is worthy of watching. When your confidence starts to feel low, find a booster and know that you’re a resilient spirit. Your ability to bounce back is one of the most wonderful attributes of being human. You, uniquely you, can be anyone you want to be and achieve anything you set your mind to.
Practice your confidence tips, and you will find yourself loving, indulging in, and presenting exactly who you want to be to the world around you.