Many people I meet believe that confidence is something out of their reach.
They believe it’s one of those things people either have or they don’t. You’re born with it or you’re not. They see others succeed, achieve, and excel while it seems the best they can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.
You can succeed, achieve and excel in anything you set your mind to. You too can be confident.
Confidence is freely available to everyone in unlimited amounts.
To grab yours, simply decide that you want some. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Because confidence comes from making the decision that you want to be confident.
And this is where people get stuck.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “I don’t want to appear arrogant”, or “I’m afraid to sound cocky and over-confident”, I’d be a very wealthy woman! Because confidence isn’t arrogance. Nor is it cockiness. Arrogance and cockiness are the domain of insecure, under-confident people who use brashness and competitiveness to mask how they truly feel.
Real confidence is about being who you are and being comfortable with it. Real confidence is about showing up in your day to day life and being your genuine, real self. It’s about the end of approval seeking behaviour and the beginning of accepting your imperfections. It’s about being you. It’s the Shangri-La of human existence.
To build real confidence, you are going to have to get up close and personal with your inner critic. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not good enough for promotion, or you can’t close a deal, and the one that tells you you’ll never amount to anything because of your past or background. It’s the voice that says you’re incompetent when you screw up, unworthy when you gain a few pounds, and unattractive as you age. It’s the voice that tells you everyone is smarter/richer/thinner/more worthy than you. It keeps you locked in your past and tells you your future can only be a replica of it. Your inner critic uses words such as ‘should’ and ‘should not’ in almost every sentence. It’s a critical, opinionated, loud-mouth that rams ‘failure’ down your throat, and it wants to keep you small.
It kills dreams, ambitions, and passion. It’s the thief that steals self-belief and holds souls hostage.
If your inner critic were someone you knew, you’d ‘unfriend’ them and run a mile!
But we don’t. We listen. We listen because the inner critic uses fear to control us.
However, you have another voice. One that will serve you, not enslave you.
Allow me to introduce you to your voice of reason.
Your voice of reason comes from a place of common sense and kindness. It’s the voice you would use to speak to a frightened child or someone who is in physical or emotional pain. It’s the voice that tells children they can be anything they want to be. It’s the voice that says you can run the marathon, finish the Ironman, get your black-belt, run a successful business, and get the promotion.
It believes in you. It believes you can do anything you want to if you just take a step.
It lives in the moment. It doesn’t care about your past. It believes your future is determined by the action you take today. This voice allows you to be you. It allows you to show up as your real, true, imperfect self. It doesn’t beat you up. It appreciates and understands you. And it wants you to realize your dreams.
This voice is at the root of all success. You can attend training, collect degrees and diplomas, and spend your life gathering knowledge. But until you tune into this voice — until you believe in yourself — success will always be just out of reach.
So how do you hear this voice over the din being made by your loud-mouthed inner critic?
You’ve tried ignoring your inner critic but the harder you try, the louder it screams.
Rather than fight your inner critic, you’re simply going to remove its’ power.
Here is a simple activity you can do transfer power to your voice of reason.
Three times per week, spend thirty minutes writing down the stories in your head. At the end of your day, sit down with a journal and just start writing. In fairly short order, you’ll start to see patterns. You’ll notice your inner critics’ influence on your ability to take action. You’ll see that when you listen to its’ drivel, you obey its’ commands. You’ll be able to associate events with your inner critic, and your inner critic with events. Once you see patterns — and you will — you can begin the process of consciously changing them.
When you hear your inner critic, prepare your voice of reason by asking yourself these questions:
- What is the worst that can happen? (It’s never anything close to what your inner critic will have you believe.)
- What is the best that can happen?
- What am I going to do to make that [best thing] happen?
- And after the event, irrespective of the outcome, ask yourself, “What did I learn that I can use to bring me closer to my goal?”
Notice the absence of criticism and berating from your inner critic. By transferring power to your voice of reason — your wisdom — you stay in the moment, listen more intently, evaluate what you’ve heard, and use that to plan your next move. No failure, no self-flagalation, no fear. Just calm, considered action to bring you closer to your goal.
I realize that this sounds agonizingly simple. And you may be wondering why, if it’s so straightforward, everyone isn’t doing this every day? Simply, it’s because fear is a response coded deep inside our brains that hasn’t yet had the time to evolve. We live in a fear-inducing world where the 24-hour news cycle provides ample fodder for the inner critic. Sadly, the majority of us get wise to our inner critic quite far into our adult lives. But by that point, the inner critic has taken usually taken a strong hold.
But all is not lost. It’s actually remarkably easy to silence your inner critic and put your voice of reason at the helm.
If you’re living a life held back by self-doubt, memories of past ‘failures’, and fear of taking action, get up close and personal with your inner critic. Once you shut it up for good, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.
You’ll be unstoppable.
Originally published at medium.com