What It Truly Means To Be Confident
What does it mean to be confident?
When you say you lack confidence, what is it exactly that’s missing?
Or, let’s go to the other side. When you’re feeling confident, how would you describe that state?
Likely, you’d keep your description simple. Plainly stating that you are lacking confidence or that you are feeling confident. But what exactly does this mean?
When we dig deeper, a new world is uncovered in relation to confidence. One that must truly be understood if you want to cultivate high levels of the trait within yourself.
What It Means To Be Confident
When I think of confidence, right away two words come to mind: trust and belief.
Let’s say I’m a swimmer and I have confidence in my ability to swim a 1500m freestyle event. Yet, I lack confidence in swimming the 200m butterfly.
What I’m saying is that I trust myself and believe in my ability with the freestyle, but I don’t believe in myself to successfully swim the butterfly.
Or, let’s say I’m a quarterback. I have a lot of trust in myself to throw a slant, though I do not trust in myself to throw a deep pass.
So at first glance, confidence clearly means to trust and believe in yourself and your abilities. That’s the definition you’ll find whenever searching the term. Now, you may be wondering why we need to look any further?
Well, because trust and belief are still broad terms. To trust in yourself is great, but it does little to describe how you’re feeling in the moment when you do trust yourself. Which is why, we must dig deeper to uncover a repeatable emotional and mental state.
"To trust in yourself is great, but it does little to describe how you’re feeling in the moment when you do trust yourself."
Why You Need To Define Confidence For Yourself
Identifying what it truly means for you to be confident works on the principle that you are striving to repeat that state. You are pinpointing a way of thinking and feeling that you have deemed to mean you are confident.
So, from here on out, confidence can be seen more as a byproduct. What you find to be what it truly means for you to be confident will be the vehicle for delivering the state of confidence.
As an athlete, consistent performances are what’s desired. You don’t want to be a streaky player, where one day you’re lights out and then the next it’s as though you’ve completely forgotten how to play.
What you should strive for are repeatable performances. Now, how do you attain such consistency? Does it come from focusing on forcing the outcome you want? No. It comes through consistency in approach.
Aside from training the days leading up to competition (not to mention the work you do in the offseason), what is another way you can ensure you’re approaching a game consistently?
Being in the same mental and emotional state.
Showing up to each game in a consistent frame of mind, if it’s the one you’ve identified as being your peak performance mindset, will give you the best possible chance for consistently successful outcomes.
This is exactly why it’s crucial to define what confidence means for you. Because, everyone knows showing up to a game or match feeling confident is important. Yet, what does this actually mean?
If you’re unaware of your destination, how successful do you think you’ll be in getting there? Yeah, every now and then luck will strike and you’ll find yourself feeling confident. But not on a regular basis, and not within your own control.
By defining what it means for you to be confident, you provide yourself with a clear picture to strive for going into each performance.
"As an athlete, consistent performances are what’s desired. You don’t want to be a streaky player, where one day you’re lights out and then the next it’s as though you’ve completely forgotten how to play."
Building Your Own Confidence
Getting yourself to the point where you are in control of your confidence takes introspective work. You must look into your past experiences and examine yourself from an outside perspective.
By doing so, you gain valuable information and pieces you can use to craft what it truly means for you to be confident.
What I want to do is take you through an exercise that I use with the athletes I work with. It involves three different steps: first we are going to examine when you feel the least confident. Next we will work to uncover when you feel the most confident.
Third, we will use the information gathered in the previous two steps to craft your own confidence statement.
When Are You The Least Confident?
Both of the questions you’re about to answer are all about self-awareness. Without awareness of when you feel confident, what’s going on around you, and what’s going on within your mind, there is little chance of controlling the emotion.
Afterall, that is the goal you’re after. Developing control over your confidence.
So, we first must begin with a self-awareness exercise. Specifically, when you feel the least confident. This will allow for you to understand the forces at play (both internal and external) that work to reduce your confidence.
As a side note, I encourage you to use a journal for this entire process. It will provide you with a written record of what you uncover, along with making the exercises easier to do.
First, think about a previous game or practice when you felt incredible amounts of self-doubt. Nothing you did felt right and all the trust you used to have in your skills has vanished.
Do you have that memory in mind? I know, it’s not something too pleasant to think about, but it's necessary. Now, what you want to do is describe that scene in detail on paper. Write about what’s going on around you, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling.
How you write is up to you and how the thoughts form in your mind. You may feel that it’s easier to write it out as a story, where you’re describing the scene and all that’s happening.
Or, it may be more helpful for you to write out different sentences regarding situations, thoughts, and feelings where you lack the most confidence. Either way, what matters is you are truly looking deep within to identify the times when you lack the most confidence.
Here are some examples of what some situations may look like that I’ve described to be when I feel the least confident:
- When the coach benches me.
- After I make a mistake during practice or a game.
- Coaches shakes their head (negative reaction).
- If I’ve been having bad practices the week leading up to a game.
- Before a game a kid was being a jerk and telling me I was doing everything wrong.
When Are You The Most Confident?
Once you’ve done your brainstorming and written out the situations in which you feel the least confident, it’s time to turn the page and examine the other end of the spectrum. Times when you’ve had the most confidence.
For this, you want to think about when you’ve really felt good going into a performance. You know, those times where you almost knew before the game even started that you were going to play well.
Such a time may be more frequent or further in the past than the memories you located for the previous exercise. Either way, it’s time to begin to construct what it looks like when you feel the most confident.
After you’ve pinpointed a time when you really trusted in yourself and had a high level of self-belief, it’s time to describe what and how.
What was happening around you? Had the coaches said something to you leading into or during the game? Who was there watching? How did your practices go the week leading up to that game? Had your recent games gone really well?
You also want to describe what you were thinking and how you were feeling. Get into detail as to the thoughts filling your mind and the emotions you were experiencing. Put these feelings into your own words.
Don’t simply say, “I was feeling confident,” unless that truly sums up what you were feeling. Make use of more description such as, “I was relaxed and having fun.”
Here are some examples of what some situations may look like that I’ve described to be when I feel the most confident:
- I feel the most confident when other people are confident in me.
- My teammates and my coaches were telling me how great I’ve been playing.
- Others look excited.
- I was told, “You were great out there,” and “I’m glad to have you on the team.”
- The student section was excited.
- I felt free and relaxed before the game (having fun).
- I’ve been playing really well recently.
Crafting Your Confidence Statement
Now, what to do with the information you’ve just gathered? Well, up to this point you should have a clear picture of when you feel the most confident and when you lack confidence.
If your goal is to gain control over your confidence, then you need a clear definition of what it means/takes for you to feel confident.
That’s where this final step comes into play.
Look through what happens when you lack confidence. Now, look through what is involved in you feeling confident. Can you come up with a single sentence that describes what it means for you to be your most confident self?
That is the sentence that will become your confidence statement.
Here are a few examples:
Confidence for me means…
- I am relaxed and having fun.
- I am happy and grateful to be playing.
- I have been consistent in practices leading into the game.
- I am focused and thinking about my success.
- I feel strong and ready to perform.
Once you’ve crafted your confidence statement, it will now serve as a guiding light for you going into each game. No longer will you strive to simply be confident, but rather generate the state you’ve outlined to be what it truly means for you to feel confident.
"If your goal is to gain control over your confidence, then you need a clear definition of what it means/takes for you to feel confident."
What does it mean to be confident?
That’s a question we all must ask ourselves. Not because there’s a universal definition we are hoping to find. But rather, because it is an explanation we need to come up with ourselves.
To find what it truly means for you to be confident, you must first look to two different times: moments when you’ve felt the least confident and situations in which you’ve experienced incredible amounts of self-belief.
Using this information, you can then craft a statement that describes what it truly means for you to be confident.
The exercise I took you through in this article is one of the many I use with the athletes I work with. If you are interested in learning more about 1-1 mental game coaching and how to get started, click here.
Be sure to go back through and perform each of the steps if you haven’t already. And take the time to craft your own confidence statement. It will be valuable to you as you move forward in your career.
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
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