Confidence can be defined in several ways. One of them is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. Another is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
What I find curious about both definitions is the verbiage. Confidence is associated with “Feeling” and “Belief”. Whether it’s feeling like you can accomplish a given task or believing you have the ability to do something. But, we know both feelings and beliefs can change. They aren’t fixed in nature. Both things are constantly changing and evolving. So, in terms of confidence, I infer that it too can change.
We can go from being confident to unconfident and from unconfident to confident. This isn’t revolutionary thinking. Most people understand this at the basic level because part of maturing through your teenage years or early adulthood requires some degree of confidence.
My aim is rather to understand what builds confidence within me and what kind of behaviours and habits zaps my confidence. First and foremost, my confidence is built through action. Inversely, I lose confidence through inaction. For example, the more consistent I am with my writing, the more action I take to put pen on paper and churn out words, the more confident I feel about my abilities. So, when self-doubt strikes, when my confidence falters, I can look at the past month of work, the words written, the pages compiled and strengthen my resolve.
However, when I was on a more in-consistent schedule where I go several days without taking any action, days which quickly become weeks and several weeks at that, then when self-doubt strikes and my confidence falters, the consequences are a lot more dire because I don’t have actual proof to fall back on. It’s an empty void instead.
Proof is another key ingredient to confidence. You don’t want to hang your hat on the things you have done and become one of those people who always bring up past accomplishments and let everyone know how great he used to be. But, having past accomplishments is important. They are receipts of your actions. They show what you are capable of. And one good thing about this kind of proof is that they depend on the individual.
For example, if you’re comparing yourself to a marathon runner, then running one mile doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if you look back and see the past version of yourself who might not have even been able to walk one mile, then you can see how much of a confidence builder this accomplishment really is. Proof that they can accomplish something their former self thought was impossible.
To someone who reads all the time, finishing a book barely registers. But for someone who is on the path of building a reading habit, they can look back at a finished book and gain confidence that they are moving in the right direction. And when their confidence falters, they have a solid foundation to fall back on.
Habits are another key ingredient to maintaining confidence. It can often take a long time to see tangible results. So, if you rely too much on results, you can find yourself in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether you’re good enough because the result you’re looking for hasn’t come to fruition. This can cause a major dent in your confidence.
One way to strengthen yourself is by focusing on good habits. Good habits are a whole other topic, but most people instinctively know what are good habits and what are bad habits. Perhaps it’s a bit naive to assume that following good habits will lead you toward your goals in life and following bad ones will lead you away from what you want. Life is rarely that black or white. But at the same time, order is necessary. You have to find these mini-steps that you believe are leading you toward your goals. Good habits happen to just that.
Perhaps a good analogy is a video game health bar. The health bar is confidence and as you go through your life, that health bar begins to deplete, but each time you perform a good habit, you get a little boost, strengthening your health. Perform enough good habits and you accomplish a result that boosts your bar even more. Accumulate enough results and you add a whole new layer to your bar. One that depletes slower than the previous one.
One commonality throughout this process is action. Keep moving and keep acting, so your confidence can be refilled over and over again.