“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” –e. e. cummings
As much as we’d like to be able to approach every endeavor with confidence, the reality is that sometimes we have doubts about our ability to successfully do what we’d like to do. In those moments, rather than submitting to our uncertainty about our abilities, I encourage you to try boosting your confidence by asking and answering four questions.
First, Have you done this thing before, and if so, how did it turn out? If you’ve done this thing before and succeeded, you can think back to that situation and remember the effort, strategies, and attitude you used to succeed. If you failed the last time, think about why you failed. Identify those things you might do differently that can help you succeed this time around.
Second, If you haven’t done this specific thing before, have you done something that requires similar abilities? Maybe you haven’t done this exact thing before, but if you’ve done something that takes similar types of skills, energy levels, or mindsets, you can think back on successful encounters with those other tasks in order to build confidence for the task at hand.
Third, Have you seen anybody else do this thing before? Or can you watch somebody do this thing sometime soon? When we watch somebody else do something, particularly people who are similar to us, we can gain confidence by identifying what these people did that led to success or what they didn’t do that led to failure. With this knowledge, we can engage in the activity or task with much more confidence, because we know what to do or avoid that will maximize the likelihood that we’ll be successful.
Fourth, What are others saying to you about your ability to succeed? What are you saying to yourself about your ability to succeed? When we receive encouragement from others that we respect, trust, and admire, our confidence can rise tremendously. Similarly, we can encourage ourselves and give our own confidence a boost by engaging in affirming self-talk (e.g., You can do it; You’ve done this before; You’ve overcome harder challenges than this). We can also focus on aspects of the situation that we can control (e.g., attitude, strategies, effort) and choose to perceive our situation as a challenge and an opportunity to growth and improvement.
Confidence not only feels great to have but makes it more likely that we will be at our best in any given circumstance. However, always having high levels of confidence is impossible. Doubt and uncertainty in some situations are simply a part of life. When that doubt creeps into your mind, keep in mind the four questions above. If you ask, answer, and act based on the answers to those four questions, you should notice a significant boost in your confidence.