I used to feel quite worried when my clients asked me how they could build their confidence. As a Personal Coach I was clear what they wanted – but I knew the concept of 'confidence' was intangible. Only after years of helping and supporting people did I realize what this request was really about.
There are numerous powerful techniques around today to help people build confidence. One of them – Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) – has produced a great variety of tools, most of which are designed to help people feel unstoppable, energized and invincible.
Sometimes these feelings are appropriate to a situation and sometimes they're not the right sort of confidence required. For example, if a loved one needs emergency brain surgery and the surgeon who is going to perform it is bouncing off the walls with energy and absolutely 100% confident, you might not feel happy about entrusting your loved-ones life to them if you discovered they were only a junior doctor!
In this article I invite you to further explore what being confident means to YOU.
I will start with some simple questions:
– Are you confident that you can clean your teeth or do you need to use techniques to feel unstoppable before picking up your toothbrush and toothpaste? I suggest you just go to the bathroom and brush your teeth, not giving it a second thought! I think it's probably safe to say that you're confident you can clean your teeth.
– What about switching on the light in your living room, or getting yourself dressed in the morning – even driving to work? These too are things you know you can do and feel confident about – right?
– Have you not noticed how people talk about confidence? While they will usually tell you they're confident about doing this, or that, they mostly use the word confidence in connection with a lack of it! For example, they say "I do not have the confidence to do that" or "I wish I felt more confident when talking with people of the opposite sex" or "I can not speak in public because I'm not confident. "
We're now moving closer to my realization of what confidence is, and what it's not.
The things you know you can do (such as cleaning your teeth) do not have feelings associated with them. They're things you just do. The feeling only comes when you lack of confidence.
It's a lack of confidence that we have to deal with – not confidence itself – and lack of confidence is nothing more than a way of saying we're afraid or worried. Just think for a moment about something you feel unconfident about. Do you fear that you might not be able to do that thing?
What you're fearful of is what the outcome might be.
You're probably familiar with the principle that says that when you've finally defined what the problem is, you're most of the way to solving it! People who seek confidence are actually seeking something that probably does not exist. For the majority of people the word confidence just means a lack of fear.
This now makes it much easier to deal with.
These days when I work with people to help them build confidence, I get them to identify the precise fears or concerns they have. With each individual client those fears or concern are different. Sometimes they're imagined; sometimes it's about a lack of knowledge; often it's because they currently lack the skills to do what they want.
Let me give you an example. A client who wants to gain confidence in talking with the opposite sex is fairly common. When they first approach me, what's probably going on inside their head is a combination of fear of rejection, fear of being laughed at, fear of failure etc.
Now let's imagine the same person if they'd had thousands of conversations with people of the opposite sex. Since they'd had the experience of being flexible and relaxed in conversations, how do you think they'd feel? Is it likely they've already got the confidence they're looking for?
So if you apply the same principle to things that you feel a lack of confidence about, identifying your concerns and your fears, what skills or abilities, if you had them, would mean that most of them would disappear? What if you already had experience in this type of situation, how would you feel then?
Maybe the way for you to get the confidence you're looking for is to identify ways to develop your skills and to gain knowledge