Building Confidence: Talk Yourself Into Higher Levels of Self-Confidence
If there was one trait I could recommend, that would drastically improve not only your performances but every aspect of your life, it would be self-confidence. Building confidence in yourself and your skills is one of the most crucial actions you can take if you wish to become successful.
The positive effects of high self-confidence are numerous. Every individual who achieved their goals was equipped with the belief they had the talents and skills necessary to do so.
Such a belief in yourself is nearly impossible when you lack self-confidence, but building such confidence can often be a difficult task. Little can be more frustrating than a fruitless search for higher self-confidence.
There is one place you need to turn to first if you wish to build confidence. No other area needs to be examined until you take into account the conversation you have with yourself.
Positive Effects of Building Confidence
Once there is a high level of confidence within you, it acts as armor, protecting your mind from negative forms of thought. I have yet to come across an individual who attained any sort of success who did not hold a certain level of belief in themselves.
Self-doubt acts as a barrier to peak performance. No matter how many people believe in you, or speak positively about your skills, if you do not truly believe in yourself, there is little hope you’ll reach your full potential and achieve the quality of life you’re after.
On a broad scale, self-confidence is known to improve the quality of your performance. But, why is this? What exactly is the reason for the increase in your performance level as a result of building confidence?
Well, when we are looking for the reasons why higher self-confidence leads to better performances, we need to examine the positive effects building confidence will have on your mind.
Psychologytoday.com outlines three benefits that will come out of improving your self-confidence.
Less Stress & Anxiety
Anxiety stems from concerning yourself with what may happen. You grow fearful of something not going the way you would like and, as a result, anxious thoughts fill your mind.
Riddled with stress and anxiety, achieving peak performance is close to impossible. Your body and mind grow tense with worry, allowing no room for you to perform naturally and freely.
When self-confidence enters the equation, a belief grows inside of you that you can accomplish what you desire. Once you believe you possess the talents necessary for success, anxiety and stress will melt away.
A calm mind is going to perform better than one cluttered with anxiety. By replacing stress and anxiety with confidence, your performances will improve due to the calm and focused mindset you’ll be bringing to the table.
Try feeling motivated when you don’t believe you’re capable of success. You won’t get far, and any slight bit of motivation that may come will last only momentarily.
Do you think it’s likely you’ll find the motivation to train for hours on end if you have little confidence in yourself and your skills? No, why would you? If you don’t have confidence in yourself, motivation to work towards your goals will be hard to come by.
Once you do believe in yourself, however, setting goals and taking the incremental steps to achieve them becomes easier. With each small step you take, your motivation will grow, leading to a continual cycle of higher confidence and greater motivation.
When we think about how motivation leads to better performances, there are two areas that make this happen. The first is the motivation you’ll feel to train. The harder you train leading up to a competition, the greater your chances of success.
Second, you will be more motivated to perform come game time. This instills focus and raises the bar of effort you put forth during competition, once again increasing your chances of performing well.
"Do you think it’s likely you’ll find the motivation to train for hours on end if you have little confidence in yourself and your skills? No, why would you? If you don’t have confidence in yourself, motivation to work towards your goals will be hard to come by."
Self-confidence provides you with the determination to press on, even in the face of incredible adversity. With failure being inevitable, on some level, confidence gives you the resilience you need in these moments of hardship.
The reason confidence instills this sense of resilience within you is due to the belief you have that, somewhere along the line, you will succeed.
You believe in your talents and know the skills you have are sufficient to succeed. You also have the confidence to look at the reasons you failed objectively, without beating yourself up, allowing you to take any lessons you learn and apply them moving forward.
Developing the ability to learn from your mistakes is valuable to any athlete. It provides you lessons only gained through experience. You take what you’ve learned and improve yourself and, ultimately, your performances.
The Confidence Crisis
There’s a crisis that presents itself when you are faced with low levels of self-confidence. The reason for this dilemma stems from the difficulty in building confidence when in the midst of performing.
As an athlete, or anyone in a performance based environment, low confidence is incredibly tough to overcome. It would be a lot easier to remove yourself from all pressure-filled situations, take some time to build your confidence, and then return once you’ve instilled greater self-belief.
However, few of us have such luxury. With the minimal amount of time allotted to each of us, and the few chances we have to reach our goals in sports, taking time off from competing is not typically possible, especially if you’re in the middle of the season.
Where the crisis comes into play is when you feel yourself building a small amount of confidence. You’ve put forth some work, performed well as of late, and your self-confidence is on the rise.
But, one simple slip, one bad performance and your back to square one. I’ve lived this frustrating cycle and it can seem to be unending. The result is a feeling of hopelessness, as if your confidence is destined to remain low.
This is what happens when we allow external results to dictate our confidence. If you feel as though you must perform well, over and over, before you’ll feel confident, you will remain in the midst of the confidence crisis.
Instead, you must turn that focus inward, looking for a way within yourself to cultivate self-confidence, separate from the results and outcomes witnessed externally. The first place you must examine is how you speak to yourself.
Building Confidence Using Self-Talk
What is the conversation like that takes place within your mind? Would you say it can typically be described as supportive or is routinely tearing you down?
The way we speak to ourselves is referred to as self-talk or internal dialogue. It’s one of the most important areas to focus on when addressing your mental health and seeking to improve such traits as confidence.
Though, the voices in our heads are often forgotten about, mainly due to the assumption that it’s just the way we are. Holding onto this opinion takes away the power that each of us has been given to choose how we shall speak to ourselves.
Once you realize the responsibility you have in determining the conversation that takes place in your own mind, a world of possibilities presents itself.
We have no control over the words other people say to us. When addressing other people, we only have control over what we say to them and our reactions to the way they speak. However, we have one hundred percent control over the way we speak to ourselves.
When you’re searching for more self-confidence, it’s vital to sharpen up your self-talk and be sure the dialogue going on within your mind is geared towards building such confidence.
Think about this, if you are repeatedly speaking down to yourself, beating yourself up over every little thing, how much confidence do you think you’ll have? Not very much I’d say. If this is how you speak to yourself, it makes sense why self-confidence has continued to evade you.
On the other hand, what if you could lift yourself up, taking the role of a cheerleader or hype man for yourself? By speaking words of encouragement, aimed at building you up, self-confidence will begin to flourish.
"We have no control over the words other people say to us. When addressing other people, we only have control over what we say to them and our reactions to the way they speak. However, we have one hundred percent control over the way we speak to ourselves."
Step #1: Locate Your Current Thought Patterns
Right now, there are certain ways of thinking that have become habitual. For whatever reason, you’ve adopted thought patterns that are not working in your favor to build confidence.
What you need to do for step number one is locate these thought patterns. They won’t all be negative, as there are going to be certain patterns that happen to be more uplifting. Right now, I want you to identify both the positive and negative thoughts you exhibit.
Think of this as taking an inventory of your mind. We know that thoughts drive emotions, so, your low self-confidence is a result of a specific pattern of thought. In contrast, any confidence you feel is associated with an alternative form of thinking.
By locating both your positive and negative thought patterns, you will be in a position to alter the negative ones and build upon the positive ones.
A great strategy for this is journaling. You want to give yourself some time for this activity, as it will be difficult to do in a single day.
I recommend keeping a thought journal for a week. During that week, become completely focused and aware of what you’re thinking and how it makes you feel.
When you notice a negative or positive thought, write it down. By the end of the week, you will have a solid compilation of the thought patterns you currently present.
Step #2: Divide & Conquer
Now that you have your large list of both positive and negative thought patterns, you need to divide them into two different categories. First, you are going to have your positive ones. Do this first, because my assumption is that this list will be shorter.
Next, gather your negative ones into another list. You should now have a clear outline of the thoughts that are present in your mind, divided between the ones working towards building your confidence and the ones tearing your confidence apart.
Here’s where the conquer part comes into play. Take the list of positive phrases and examine them. What similarities do you see? Are there certain areas of yourself that you could give more attention to, since you already hold positive beliefs about them?
Sometimes, it’s not that we don’t have positive thoughts, but we feel they are not worthy enough to receive our full attention.
As you move onto your negative phrases, once again look for any similarities. This helps to gain a clear picture of the general negative beliefs you hold towards yourself.
After this, you want to generate positive alternatives. Take a negative phrase, and write the inverse of it in a positive and confidence building way. Here are some examples of taking the inverse of a negative thought pattern:
- “I’m not good enough.” | “I trust in my talents and abilities.”
- “I always fail.” | “I am successful.”
- “I suck.” | “I believe in myself.”
- “I hope I don’t mess up.” | “I am capable of performing successfully.”
So you see, it’s just about recognizing the negative thoughts you have, and then generating positive alternatives aimed at reversing their emotional and psychological effects.
Once you’ve compiled these two lists and come up with your alternatives, it’s time to put them into action.
Step #3: Daily Application
Okay, at this point you have identified the thought patterns you currently have, both the positive and negative ones. You’ve also come up with a list of positive alternatives for the phrases fueling your low self-confidence. So now what?
Here’s where you have to take action in order for any change to take place. When you’re wanting to utilize self-talk for anything, especially building confidence, repetition is key.
I want you to take a moment and think about how long you’ve been allowing negative internal dialogue to go on within your mind. For me, it was a long time, I’m talking ten plus years. Now that’s a lot of repetition.
If you’ve been speaking to yourself in a degrading way, year in and year out, it’s no wonder your confidence is low. But here’s the beauty in all of this, you have now become conscious of the thoughts in your head and are in a position to change them!
Don’t worry, it’s not going to take you ten years to counteract the effects of negative self-talk, either. Of course it will take time, but with consistent deliberate practice, change will be felt in a relatively short period of time.
Take the list of positive alternatives you created, alongside the positive phrases you already identified, and repeat this compiled list to yourself on a daily basis. Twice to three times a day is perfect if you want to reap the rewards as quickly as possible.
Every time you say these affirmations, your confidence will grow slightly. It’s a steady process, but with time and repetition, you can talk yourself into becoming a more confident version of yourself.
"If you’ve been speaking to yourself in a degrading way, year in and year out, it’s no wonder your confidence is low. But here’s the beauty in all of this, you have now become conscious of the thoughts in your head and are in a position to change them!"
Building confidence within yourself is one of the most valuable skills you can work towards. When thinking about how you can build self-confidence, the first place you should turn is your thoughts.
The way you speak to yourself has a huge impact on the level of confidence you display. Continually speak down to yourself and confidence will plummet. Implement positive self-talk and watch your confidence skyrocket.
Developing a more positive internal dialogue does not need to be complicated, but does require work. Your brain requires repetition to alter the current thought processes it presents. So, your job is to feed your brain positive affirmations on a daily basis.
Doing this will not only completely shift the dialogue that goes on within your mind, but also build self-confidence along the way.
How do you currently speak to yourself? Is your self-talk working for or against your self-confidence?
If you are struggling with low confidence, or a negative voice in your head, learn how one-on-one mental performance coaching will put you on the fast track to higher confidence and better self-talk, both of which lead to higher levels of performance.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did, please feel free to share it with others.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
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