Confidence as a person relies on a few factors, including genetics, learned unconscious reactions to circumstance, your history of role models, and your education in the field you want to be more confident in.
Let's tackle each one and see how you can become more confident today.
Genetics seem finite, right? However, science has proven that we are capable of changing our genes. I personally wear a different pair of jeans every day, but that isn't what we're talking about.
"Not everything about how your genes operate is programmed at birth." - Simon Gregory, an associate professor of medical genetics and codirector of the Duke Epigenetics http://dukemagazine.duke.edu/article/big-question-can-your-environment-change-your-dna
So based on Simon's studies, if gene expression is a thing, we can indeed affect our own genetics. How? Through exposure to foods, toxins, and drugs, and potentially including overexposure to chemicals produced by our own bodies, such as cortisol or dopamine. Unconsciously we are exposed to things all the time, but could we consciously choose different exposure? Answer: YES! Of Course! That means that foods we eat may actually have an impact on our confidence. It means that the habits we indulge in may actually have an impact on our confidence.
So here's what you have to do: Exercise impulse control at least once per day. Sound easy right? It is easy. Just think of one thing that you do habitually, every day, that may have an impact on your mental or physical health. Once you label that thing, begin making efforts to abandon that activity at least once per day. For me, it's easy. I know I eat lots of sugar, so now all I have to do is avoid it (CONSCIOUSLY) just one time each day. Momentum is powerful. In a few weeks, I can move up to twice per day and so on. As a result, I begin to influence my confidence, possibly due to gene expression, and most probably due to the mere fact that I'm exercising will power, albeit, at small levels in the beginning. Psychologically, when you do something small and succeed, you feel good. You feel more in control and control is probably the most important factor related to confidence!
What about your learned reactions to circumstance? Really what that means is your brain tells your body to respond to circumstances based on pain or pleasure. The way in which you respond will either be rewarded or shut down by the environment. I'll explain by telling a quick story.
Joey feels mounting anxiety related to his parent's recent divorce. Naturally, he looks for a way to diminish the pain he feels so he takes the bus to downtown to a familiar place. A place where he knows he'll find friends who experience similar letdowns in life. Together, they laugh and cry and experiment with drugs to escape to another reality. Joey's friends make him feel better, you could even say, "rewarded," for walking their path. So... Joey inadvertently learns to react to anxiety by seeking friends and ultimately drugs and for the next few years he allows a pattern to develop.
It's easy to see how Joey merely reacted unconsciously and has no real choice in the situation. The truth is, he'll never have a choice until he finds a way to bring the unconscious reactions to the conscious, thoughtful, frontal lobe inside his brain. When he does look in the mirror and see how he's shut off the thinking part to allow for the unconscious decisions, he'll be free to make new choices.
It's really no different with you and me. We have to look in the mirror and see how everything we do is a learned reaction to circumstance. Once we see that... we can decide to take a new path. Sure it won't be easy, but it's very doable.
Here's what you need to do: Notice how you react negatively to any one thing. Literally, write it down. Then choose from a list of better reactions to that circumstance. For example, I reacted to missing a shot in basketball practice by looking to the audience for approval or disapproval. Most of the time they disapproved and it always helps send me deeper into my insecurity. I noticed my reaction, then wrote it down on paper to analyze a better option. Then I chose from a list of better reactions, now when I miss a shot, I don't look to the audience at all, instead, I pat my left shoulder and congratulate myself for taking risks and surviving the heat. As a result, I'm becoming more confident to shoot the basketball. But my confidence is growing in the same in other areas too, and you can experience this too. You can become more confident by changing one unconscious reaction to circumstances. You can change it to anything you like. You can repeat affirmations, you can practice breathing, you can call a mentor or coach, you can take a cold shower. Anything that's better is going to take you on a new path. You won't be perfect, I know I'm not. You're carving a new path for energy to flow, but it will become easier and easier to walk this new path in time.
Before you finish this, as in RIGHT NOW, get out your pen and paper and write down your ideas for step one and step two. Never leave valuable information in its box. Use it immediately.
How about role models? You probably didn't choose your role models consciously for most of your life. Most every choice in life seems unconscious, so don't stress about it, but you can choose your role models if you wish to. For instance, my role model growing up was my mother. She was kind and sweet and thoughtful, always. I admired that. But later in life, I realized that I didn't have a strong male role model. My father wasn't always around and when I got old enough with him as an adult, he had also aged. In his older age, he didn't show much masculinity, instead, he was sweet and gentle, which again, I admire. But what I knew I needed more than anything, was something to balance my personality so I could increase my leadership. I needed a masculine role model. Someone with integrity, someone I could trust. But where in the wild world is a man that is masculine and trustworthy and respectable? From experience, I can tell you, they aren't on every street corner, but eventually, I began to connect with a man I respect named Tony Robbins, not personally, just from a distance. I began to emulate some of his body language and charisma. It's a slow road, but each year I'm noticing more and more masculine energy in my body. I've never lost that soft, sweet nature, it's just becoming a little more certain, a little more assertive in some situations and a little more balance in my opinion.
So who are your role models? Who do you look up to and think, "one day, I want to be like that?" Did you know you can choose a role model consciously? All you have to do is look around you. Never stop looking around you! Eventually, you will find someone worthy of emulating. You don't have to copy every aspect of that person's life, but you can certainly absorb the good things. As a result... you will become more confident! The role models of your past influenced you for sure, but you have the conscious ability to abandon their bad ideas and develop better ones. All you have to do is be aware, write stuff down, and begin a new path.
Your education, largely influenced by your role models also plays a huge role in your confidence. Did you know that learning just for the sake of learning, actually makes you more confident? Think about this: The sun is 92.96 million miles from our earth. Did you know that? Now that you do know that, do you feel just a tiny bit more confident telling others about the vastness of space? What if you knew even more details about space? Would you become more confident to tell more people? Absolutely! I've met shy, introverted people who come out of their shell to talk about their extensive knowledge in a specialized field. So why wouldn't you? Knowledge is potential power, and potential power gives a sense of control over some aspects of our experience and that in turn gives confidence. It's that simple!
So here is what you need to do: Learn something new about that thing you want more confidence in. Let's say you want to be a more confident horse rider. Learn better body control and notice how your education is advancing your confidence. If you want to be more confident as a public speaker, take classes related to public speaking, or even watch free youtube videos to start the process, and begin to notice how you're confident to speak is improving. Never stop learning. Don't assume you know it all because nobody does, but you want to get to the place where you know enough.
For instance, I'm a master horseman. I can say that confidently because I can do nearly everything there is to do related to horses. I have done nearly everything there is to do related to horses, in every aspect of the industry but I still have more to learn. I always will. There is fine-tuning, even at the mastery levels. So I don't presume to know it all, but I am confident to say I know enough to get the job done. That's the confidence that learning can give you. I wasn't born with that confidence. I earned it through education. Most of that education came from mentors and some of it came through observation and experimentation. And every single ounce of that education makes me feel more and more confident that I'm a capable person. The point is, you too can feel capable, all it takes is education. Either educate your body to adapt quickly, like a fighter builds muscle memory, or educate your mind to grow your ability as a technician or teacher. Never stop learning!
Each one of these factors requires writing things down, observing your behavior and choosing new behaviors from a long list of possibilities. You can do this! And you will be rewarded exponentially when you start to feel a true sense of confidence. Which is really a sense of control rather than subject to someone or something else's control.
I know it's a big fat lesson to soak up in one sitting, so I'll leave you with this. If you want to become more confident. Choose to become more confident today! And start today by choosing to act on one of the above factors.
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