This week there was a milestone incident involving a bicycle and a member of the family. That's right, you've guessed it, my little girl finally managed to ride without stabilisers and what did it in the end was confidence. Her confidence appeared to come out of nowhere and this got me thinking, where does confidence come from and how do you get more of it?
Maybe you've tried things in the past and it didn't work out so you've hung onto your stabilisers and not ridden free. Maybe you have areas in your life right now where you would like to be more confident or maybe you know that there are situations coming up in the future where having more confidence would make a difference?
If this is true for you, here are some foolproof steps to gaining more confidence. They work best if you have a particular situation in mind as you are reading them.
Remember to breathe - rea time when you were anxious or on edge and nervous and you'll notice that your breathing tightens up causing you to take shallow breaths. Your mind and body affect each other so it's actually very difficult to lack confidence if you are breathing deeply and slowly. Or put another way if you really want to feel nervous concentrate on rapid, shallow breathing!
Visualise it going well - we now know that the brain has difficulty telling the difference between a vivid visualisation and a real picture. This is why so many athletes and sports people spend hours making rich mental pictures of themselves carrying out the perfect shot etc. Another way of looking at this is to focus on the result you want instead of the result you fear. The most effective way to visualise is to imagine the situation going well as you are there looking out through your own eyes and then step out of your body and watch yourself doing it well. This tells your mind and body what to aim for.
Break the task down - everything is simple if you break it down into enough small pieces and do them one by one. The key to becoming confident and effective at many new skills is to break them down to essentials and practice each small piece until you can put them all together. For example, to become an effective cold caller you might just practice calling shops and asking for the price of something. This builds confidence around using the phone to ring strangers without any of the fear of rejection. Once you are comfortable just ringing lots of strangers and talking to them you can move on to the next step.
Get someone to coach you - find someone who is good at what you want to do well and ask them to help you. Often they can be particularly helpful with breaking the task down to it's essentials. (In case you were wondering, the three essentials of riding your bike are look forward, sit up and pedal fast!) Being in the habit of asking for help not only builds confidence but gives you a major advantage as well because many other people are not comfortable asking for help.
Practice - sounds obvious but for example, the way to become comfortable speaking to groups is to do lots and lots of it combined with the steps above.
Act as if you are confident - in the end you need to pay attention to the first three letters of confidence. Yes, it's not real. Con-fidence comes from acting as if you are confident. Take a moment now to sit as if you had supreme self confidence and pretty soon you will look and feel more confident. Keep doing it and soon you won't be able to tell the difference. In an odd way, the more you pretend or act as if you are confident then the more real it will become. Do it and you'll see what I mean.
There is a moment that comes when the stabilisers have gone and someone has let go of the saddle when you realise that you are actually doing it. You're riding free, maybe with the odd wobble but you're doing it. Follow the steps above and you'll have many more of those moments…
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