What if confidence was a muscle that could easily be developed.
Over the past few months many people have spoken to me about issues that had to do with “a feeling inside them that stopped them moving forward or getting things done”. A “feeling that kept creeping in and stopped them for doing what they should be doing”. The feelings were described differently by different people but what it had in common was that I was some type or form of self-doubt.
For many, this developed self-doubt is almost eating them up and often halting them in making decisions and if they do make a decision finally, the self-doubt is nagging them for hours and days after the decisions has been made. This often resulting in sleepless nights, lack of concentration, tension and a feeling of just not being good enough, which stimulates more self-doubt in them. These days it seems that this self-doubt is getting even stronger in many – as redundancies, new ways, forced change to routines and different directions are on the cards and the unknown is there right smack in front of us.
But what if self-doubt was just a muscle that we have over-cultivated over the years and maybe even fed steroids so that it has been able to really bulked up and become dominant. Basically, we have spent too much time on feeding the self-doubt and not nearly the same amount of time on building our confidence.
What if confidence then, also was a muscle that we could equally train and build up?
We may have to start by changing gym membership and personal trainer. What I mean is to actively taking a look at how we have worked the wrong muscle over the years and allowed it to grow out of control and find out why we have allowed this to happen. By looking deep, deep inside you will probably find that we have allowed the self-doubt to develop over the years instead of befriending it under equal terms with confidence.
Van Gogh is reported to have said that: “If you hear a voice within you say ‘ You cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
This tells us that it has to be a considered effort to build confidence and that we have to go against our little inner voice that is trying to hold us back.
Neel Burton MD from Psychology Today (2019) mentioned that self-doubt and lack of confidence could often be deeply rooted in us but that we need to intentionally work on getting our arms around it in order not to end up in a downward spiral where it takes control of our lives.
So, what are things we can do to build this new muscle of Confidence?
For a starter we can openly accept that self-doubt is part of life. What we need to do though, is learn to get self-doubt at arms-length so that we can get a clear view on what it truly is. If it is too close to us we get clouded by it and cannot see the forest for all the trees.
We then need to start working on building the confidence muscle. As this is a choice we have to make, like the choice of going to the gym or getting fit, we need to truly get to terms with it and commit to it. When we start building a new muscle it can be a bit painful in the beginning and we have to start with low weights and small repetitions. You can do this by finding things that you are good at. Look at your last performance review or feedback session. What were the comments on your last project. Go out and look for the positive. Don’t forget in the process that we are all fully capable human beings, we just need to find it within ourselves and then pull it out. We all have our niche and our strengths. Build on them. Compare to where you want to be and not where other people are – they don’t have your strengths and talents. It takes practice and we may have to take baby steps but think about how many years it took you and how much time and effort you have put in to nurture and build your self-doubt muscle.
Now it is time to build what is going to truly make a difference in your life – your confidence. Be kind to your-self, and remember it is ok to have an off day, however do not make excuses and find reasons why not to build such an important part of who you are. You chose to build the self-doubt muscle and now it is time to build the confidence muscle and move forward in life both professionally and personally.