By Srini Saripalli –
You may not feel you’re good enough or you’ll ever be good enough. You may not think you’re capable of handling relationships, of running a business or negotiating a raise, of talking in front of your crush or a crowd, of doing just about anything other people normally do.
Where do these feelings of scarcity, lack, failure and inadequacy come from? And how do we address these?
It’s important that we get to the bottom of your problems before building your confidence from scratch. Besides, you can’t fake confidence. May you can but it’s not worth trying. You want to feel and be genuinely confident.
It All Starts With Fear
People who lack confidence would rather feel safe than acknowledge the feeling of fear. In childhood, they’d rather feel safe at home than face the unfamiliar territory where other children play. Growing up, the same child would rather feel safe keeping quiet than feel uncomfortable raising a hand and being heard in class.
It’s your avoidance of fear that prevents you from building self-confidence. Of course, you can’t blame yourself. Everyone else thinks it’s better to completely eliminate fear. It’s a myth. The truth is, many of our fears are primordial. Deliberately try to forget them and they still lurk in the subconscious. Your best option is to face your fear and deal with it. Have a “dialogue” with fear. Does it tell you to run away from people? Does it tell you your boss won’t like your presentation anyway so why bother?
Fear loses control over you when you don’t do what it tells you. So the next time you stand in front of the class and get scared, feel fear until it dissipates.
What You’re Not Confident About and What You’re Afraid Of
It’s important that you understand the connection between confidence and fear. By confidence, we mean breaking free of limiting beliefs and realizing your real worth as an individual. Once you manage fear and overcome self-doubt, you don’t have to chase after confidence. Your genuine self-confidence will shine through. It’s our natural condition as human beings, which is why it’s liberating.
Take stock of everything you’re afraid of, both big and small. List them down or make a mental note. You can’t deal with them all at once but you can pick one that’s easiest to handle. If you think you’re terrible at talking to girls, try sitting next to the friendliest girl in class and striking up a conversation about homework. The first try is always the hardest. Practice small attempts regularly and you’ll eventually notice a boost in confidence.
Find Your Warrior Archetype and Let it Guide You
The great psychotherapist and psychiatrist Carl Jung coined the terms extroverts and introverts. Those with zero confidence and shyness can fully relate to his concept of introversion. We’re not going to discuss it here though. We’ll point you instead to another Jungian contribution, archetypes, which you’ll find useful when developing self-confidence.
Archetypes, says Jung, represent a motif or a pattern of behavior. They’re powerful in that they represent the deepest elements of ourselves. That’s why they also carry a tremendous amount of psychic energy. There’s a limitless number of archetypes according to Jung. The old man, the fool, the hero, the maiden and the child are all archetypes. For purposes of discovering your inner confidence, we’re going to use the warrior archetype.
“The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man,” writes best-selling author Carlos Castaneda. The warrior’s brand of self-confidence is built on self-trust and self-reliance. He doesn’t brag about his physical prowess but chooses instead to conquer his own fear before facing his enemies. His confidence comes from within. It’s no wonder Japanese businessmen look up to the warrior as their archetype. In fact, many of them choose the warrior-monk combination, or what they consider as the hero within.”
You too can tap into the warrior archetype. Since it’s action-oriented, you’ll likely find yourself saying “yes” to things that normally scare you. When you think of yourself as a warrior, whether in school or at work, you’re actively engaging all your senses to help manifest your goal of being self-confident.
Feeling Grateful is an Antidote to Feeling Not Enough
Remember all those feelings of scarcity, lack, failure and inadequacy we talked about earlier? All of them feed on fear, while fear itself intensifies these feelings. It’s a cycle, really. It’s the same cycle that leaves you feeling “not quite enough.” Deep gratitude can help you break the cycle. Make a gratitude list. What talents and skills do you possess? What small successes have you achieved? What about having normal faculties and a bachelor’s degree?
Being grateful and having a good self-image go together. It’s impossible to separate them. You can’t live a life of gratitude and yet think poorly of yourself. Self-image, as we all know, is crucial in developing one’s confidence. How you interact with others depends a lot on how you see yourself.
A quick look at your gratitude list should let you realize that you have all the basics you need to improve yourself and live better everyday.
In sum, here’s what we’ve covered for building self-confidence from scratch.
First, face your fear rather than running away from it and faking confidence. Real confidence that comes from within doesn’t depend on external circumstances. So whether or not you win an award or get social recognition, don’t feel inadequate or insecure.
Second, find your own inner warrior. It’s that voice or energy that let’s you say “yes” to things despite the fear. Look at the lives of people you admire and recognize that they’re actually living the story of a true warrior. They have their own episodes of self-doubt but they persisted.
Third, be grateful and embrace the abundance mindset. It’s a powerful antidote against the nagging feeling of “I’m not enough.”
Your zero to hero journey is going to be a difficult one, but it’s the only journey that’s worth pursuing