Why you should stop trying to be confident

One of the most common themes that comes up for my clients is their desire to build confidence. They feel like they are holding themselves back, and not achieving all that they could be if they felt more confident and had faith in their own ability. But is that actually the case? Do you really need to work on your self-belief in order to be successful? My answer to that, possibly controversially for a mindset coach, is no.  

Of course confidence and self-belief can be helpful. When you believe something is possible you are more likely to make it happen; without the fear of failure getting in the way, it’s much easier to get on and do what you need to do. If that is something you’ve done before, or something you can easily break down into steps that feel do-able then you’re all set. You’re also firmly in your comfort zone.  If you want to achieve all that you can, then you’re going to have to move out from there and start to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

Lack of confidence can be a distraction – it seems like a problem you need to fix and then you’ll be able to get on with doing the stuff you know you want to do. In reality, considering it a problem and paying attention to it delays you. It keeps your focus away from whatever action you need to take. Confidence often comes once you start doing that stuff and finding it has gone OK (or that it didn’t go too well but you’re still here to tell the tale!). In other words, rather than taking action becauseyou are confident, taking action helps you to become confident.

It’s totally natural to have feelings of apprehension or anxiety when you’re facing something new or something you have previously struggled with – your brain is wired to freak out a bit in a misguided attempt to keep you safe (it doesn’t distinguish between real and imagined threats). How much attention you pay to that feeling of self-doubt, and how much you allow it to guide you is a choice you can make. You can choose to listen and engage with your mind monkey. Or you can choose to acknowledge it (and accept it is trying to help) but remind yourself that you would rather take action and live with the outcome than stay in the same place you are now.  

So if you want to be more confident, stop trying to work on your beliefs in isolation and work on the actions instead. Take action that might not work – be curious to find out where it takes you and what you can learn from it. Take action that feels uncomfortable and stretches you outside of your comfort zone a bit. And as you find what works, you’ll also find that elusive confidence.

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