Why is confidence important, and why is it bad to not have enough? That’s a bit of a stupid question, right? It’s kind of like asking why is money important. If you have a lot of it, it isn’t. But if you’ve ever not had enough, you know how important it is.
Confidence isn’t just about wanting everyone to look at you. It’s also about basic mental health. And sometimes about just getting through daily life. In my life, I’ve struggled with it in certain areas. And, starting this ‘self-employed’ journey has pushed me into those areas more than anything else I’ve ever done.
But, I’ve been working on it. And, as part of that goal, I’ve also been working out and trying to get into better shape. That’s made me notice there are a lot of parallels between building confidence and building muscle:
Both take a lot of work and effort, and some sweat and pain. And, neither will get any better if you don’t work on it.
So, I’ve been working on building my confidence muscles as well as my physical ones. And I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned. In my journey, I have found Ted Talks to be a good source of informative and helpful advice. So, I have illustrated each point with a Ted Talk that I found very helpful and motivating.
1. Work With Your Strengths
When you start a workout program, you have to decide what to focus on. Yes, you need to work on your weaker areas. But, if you’re going to stick with it, you need to focus on improving the things you’re good at and you enjoy. If you hate swimming, why would you push yourself to be a great swimmer? On the other hand, if you love running and you’re already good at it, if you focus on that, you might be a champion someday.
I have found the same thing to be true of building confidence. I’m never going to be an extremely outgoing person. But I’m empathetic, and I’m smart. And rather than focusing on what I don’t have, I can work on building my confidence in the things that I know I’m already good at. Those are the things that I could be great at someday.
Mike Kinney was someone who wanted to be a pro-wrestler, but he didn’t know how do that. So, he focused on his strengths. In the Ted Talk below, he talks about how he become the greatest version of himself by ‘turning up’ the things he was already good at. And he offers tips on how you can do the same. What could you become if you improved your strengths?
2. Push Yourself
When you start working out, you have to push yourself. That’s just part of it. Your muscles will never get stronger if you don’t make them work. And, only by working them to the point of exhaustion will you see your best results. In time, and with lots of work, you’ll have strong muscles that you can trust to handle lots of different situations.
The same thing is true with confidence. It’s never going to get better on its own. In fact, sitting around and worrying about when it might fail only makes things worse. But, with practice and work, you can build your confidence so that it is robust and strong enough to handle any situation.
In the Ted Talk below, Jia Jiang talks about his experiences as a child that damaged his confidence. As an adult, he decided to overcome his fears by accepting rejection for 100 days in a row. He literally set out intending to get rejected. Over time he learned not only that rejection isn’t as scary as he thought. But he also learned that sometimes you’ll be surprised by what you can get if you put yourself out there. What could you do if you weren’t afraid of asking?
3. Feel the Burn
Another side effect of exercise is that sometimes you get sore. And, I know it’s counterintuitive, but the best way to get rid of that pain, is to work through it. What else are you going to do, give up? That isn’t going to get you any results at all. Only by working through the soreness will you be able to keep seeing growth.
Confidence is like that, too. The only way to lose completely is to give up. And to get better, you have had to work through some painful stuff. Putting yourself out there will result in rejection and pain sometimes. But even if it hurts, that pain will help you be better prepared for next time.
Lizzie Velasquez has had to work through her own confidence issues. In the Ted Talk below, she talks about finding out that millions of people considered her the ugliest woman alive. She could have given into that pain. Instead, she faced it and worked through it to become the college graduate and motivational speaker that she is today. What could you do with that kind of confidence?
4. Take Care of Yourself
Sometimes, when you workout you get injured. If that happens you use first aid to care for the injury so that it heals as quickly and as well as possible. If you don’t, the injury might get worse, and could make it so that you can’t do anything at all.
Mental health is as important as physical health, but we don’t pay as much attention to it. In the same way as a physical injury, a mental injury can leave scars. And, if you have an injury to your confidence, you need to properly treat it so that it can heal. If you don’t, there might be lasting damage.
I’m sure both Lizzie and Jia above had to do some first aid for their confidence. In this Ted Talk psychologist (not a real) Dr. Guy Winch talks about the importance of doing that mental health first aid. If you don’t treat yourself with kindness and care, your injuries will never heal. How much could you grow if you took care of yourself?
Like any other muscle, you have to exercise your confidence in order for it to get stronger. If you don’t, it isn’t going to get any better on its own. And, it’ll likely get worse if you aren’t paying attention to it.
There are some things that you need to keep in mind if you want to work on your confidence, though. If you focus on your strengths, you’ll get better faster. You’ll need to push yourself and work through the pain to get stronger. And, if you get hurt you’ll need to take care of yourself.
Yes, there are some risks, and yes there will be some pain. You might fail, and you might make a fool of yourself. But you’ll only ever get past that fear by pushing through the ache. But, I promise it won’t kill you. Fear won’t kill you. Never getting over your fear will.