Building Confidence Is Like Growing Your Hair
Updated: Jun 14, 2022
Don't ask me why, but today I felt like comparing confidence to a hair treatment, and believe me, it makes a lot of sense.
First of all, a lot of people overcomplicate pretty much everything in life. The whole topic of confidence building and growing self-esteem also appears either too complex or too difficult to master. The truth of a matter is that we all NEED inner confidence in order to successfully engage in life, full stop.
Confidence is the foundation for everything in life and it is our confidence, or lack of it, that directly affects how we do everything in life.
Did you know that most people live in a restricted circle of potential and it’s not because they lack intelligence, opportunities or resources but because they don’t believe in themselves or worse, they don’t think they are “good enough”.
As a coach I certainly see lack of confidence as one of the key obstacles in reaching one’s full potential, living a fulfilled life or even being able to build and maintain strong and healthy relationships with other people. There is more and more evidence in the business world too, suggesting that learnt attributes such as communication skills, confidence and resilience are identified as more important factors in being successful compared to inner attributes such as being naturally smart.
More than education, more then experience, more than training, a person's level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That's true in the cancer ward, it's true in the Olympics, and it's true in the boardroom.
- Dean Becker, Harvard Business Review, 2002
Face it, and get down to it, because the true is, confidence is a learnable skill, it is possible to master it in life and relatively easy to preserve, as long as you commit to it.
Today, for a change, we are comparing confidence building to a hair treatment. Let’s say you want to improve the state of your hair, not only you want to make it grow, you also want to make it shinier, you want to gain volume and generally improve the overall quality of your hair.
Now, depending on the state of your hair you may have to use different remedies but generally speaking there will be two types of action:
The external treatment: applying oils, conditioners, masks, shampoos, herbal drops and what not;
The internal attack: balanced diet, hydration, supplements etc.
I would imagine that if your hair is relatively damaged, you would also give yourself some time before you see any results. Right?
Well, the same applies to building inner confidence. Depending on how much you need to work on the relationship with Self (the internal treatment) or how much you need to work on building trust in your abilities (the external treatment) you may want to use different remedies.
First of all, let's take a moment to reflect here, which group would you subscribe yourself to?
Group 1: SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem is our cognitive and emotional appraisal of our own worth. People with low self-esteem issues generally have a very poor relationship with Self. Low-self esteem means having active self-critical voices that produce a lot of negative self-talk, diminishing our self-image and overall self-worth.
Low self-esteem often sounds like: I'm not worth it, I don't deserve it, I'm not lovable, It's always my fault.
Focus: the quality of thoughts and feelings I generate towards myself.
Group 2: CONFIDENCE
Confidence means to trust. In other words, to be confidence in Self, is to trust in your abilities to successfully engage in the world. People with inner confidence have a solid level of self-trust and mental resilience.
Inner confidence often looks like: willingness to take risks and fail, ability to set and respect one's boundaries and say no, willingness to go into the discomfort.
Focus: the quality of my behaviours and how I show up in the world.
Group 1 | TREATMENT
If you categorised yourself as someone who suffers form low self-esteem and has more self-loathing than self-loving tendencies, you may start rethinking your mental diet. Your mental diet is about the quality of thoughts you generate about yourself, the thoughts you feed yourself with, that then impact your feelings and your overall idea of self-worth.
What do you really think of yourself and to what extend those thoughts are true?
The treatment starts with investigating what you need to eliminate from your mental diet that is not serving you and then replace it with more nourishing thoughts and beliefs that will start growing the right energy from within.
"You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control."
- Elizabeth Gilbert
Week 1 [tracking period]:
Start observing your negative, self-critical voices and make physical notes every time you hear them inside your head;
Give a name to that voice so it becomes easier to track and disassociate yourself from.
Week 2 [reflection period]:
Reflect on your tracking period and notice what situations, circumstances or people trigger your negative, self-critical voice;
Make a solid list of the key statements & limiting beliefs the voice makes in your head.
Week 3 [game on period]:
Start questioning the key statements looking for hard evidence in your life as a whole (past & present) to challenge the relevance and credibility of those statements and beliefs;
Train your brain to focus on your daily achievements*, these are situations in your daily life when you feel proud of yourself (small & big things) and make physical notes of those.
Additional tools for better results looking forward:
Meditation practice, e.g. guided meditation with Tara Brach or Search inside Yourself Institute
Gratitude journal & positive affirmations - more examples and ideas in this Ultimate Confidence Workbook
* You can use this Achievement Tracker here to track your own proud moments.
Group 2 | TREATMENT
If you believe your relationship with Self is healthy but you lack belief in your abilities, you are afraid to fail, and for that reason you tend to operate within your comfort zone, you may want to invest some time in more external remedies.
If you remember, building confidence, that is your inner belief in Self, is about the quality of your actions and behaviours. The only way to build self-confidence is to take a risk and take action despite your fear of failure, messing up or embarrassment.
How often do you create opportunities to win, overcome a challenge or be praised?
The truth is that in the absence of confidence, courage takes over. In other words, do not wait until you are confident to show up, show up until you get confident!
Effective execution of courage in your life, is like effective hair oil application: if you want to see results, you need to commit to consistency, perseverance and repetition. At the same time you should not expect quick fixes, instead stay patient on the journey, focusing on each and every step of the way.
Week 1 [investigation period]:
Start observing areas of your life where you lack confidence;
Notice what factors impact lack of self-belief in those areas, such as: environment, people, situations etc.
Week 2 [modelling excellence]:
Make a list of the areas in your life when you DO believe in yourself and convey a good level of confidence, think of the qualities you display in those areas and what made/makes you confident there;
Think of other people who are confident in those areas you want to improve and notice what do they display that feeds their self-belief.
Week 3 [game on period]:
One of the most powerful ways to build confidence is to act with the confidence you aspire to have.
Collect all the information from your first 2 weeks and get down to action;
Fake it until you become it. Ask yourself:
- How would the person I would like to be do the things you are about to do now?
- How does that person speak or walk?
And of course, here is a video worth watching:
Additional tools for better results looking forward:
Work on your mindset and focus on your efforts more than your expected results;
Take one step at a time, your steps need to be small enough to be achieved and big enough to matter. Unrealistic goals have harmful impact on your motivation and drive.
A book that may be really useful here is Atomic Habits by James Clear
Remember that being confident doesn't mean that you will no longer make mistakes – it means that you know that you can have a go and you will be able to handle the outcome whether it's positive or not.
If you are craving for more, you must check out this Ultimate Confidence Workbook that offers a much more detailed and comprehensive confidence building treatment plan!