Confidence is one of those “double-edged sword” kind of topics.
On one hand, it’s cool to talk about your confidence issues in the past tense… but admit that it’s something you struggle with on an ongoing basis?
Well, that makes you look weak. And we aren’t about that shit.
We prefer to look like we’ve got it all together. Like we’re stoic and untouchable. Like insults and criticism roll off our backs like, “Can’t touch me.”
But most us know that’s a front.
And deep down, confidence is a struggle.
So, in the name of transparency, I’ll openly admit that confidence has always been a real issue for me.
Maybe I’m weird, but growing up I never felt all that comfortable in my own skin. I struggled to stand up for what I believed in. I struggled to be okay with being different.
Like a lot of people, I wanted others to like me, so I did what I could to fit in. After a while, I got so caught up in trying to be everything to everyone that I forget who I was. And I learned the hard way that trying to be something your not is the quickest way to crush your self-confidence.
I also failed to deal with this during my younger years and ended up bringing a lot of these issues with me into adulthood. Next thing I knew, I was mid-twenties and still trying to figure out who I was and what I was about.
Now married and with two kids looking up to me, things suddenly got very real because it wasn’t just about me anymore.
For the longest time, I figured if I didn’t become the best version of myself, I was the only one who lost.
But now, the stakes were higher than ever. If I didn’t become the best version of myself, my kids wouldn’t get the example that their dad should be. My wife wouldn’t get the husband that she deserves.
With that realization came an all-out assault on improving my confidence and becoming a better, stronger version of myself.
This article is about what I’ve learned along the way.
Having confidence is about more than just walking around thinking you’re the most awesome person in the world.
- If you’re interested in building strong relationships (with peers and those of the intimate type), you’ve got to have confidence.
- If you want to be able to stand up for what you believe in, you need confidence.
- And of course, there’s the internal aspect of this, too: If you want to be able to muster up the courage to experience the freedom that comes from living on your terms, confidence is key.
Those things alone are going to be determining factors in the kind of legacy you leave.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Anyone who has struggled with feeling confident knows that it affects nearly every aspect of life.
Let me get real with you for a second. There was a time when I woke up every day thinking about what I would avoid that day due to fear and anxiety about what others thought. I avoided life experiences out of fear.
During my first job as a personal trainer at a health club, I was so terrified of rejection and failure that I would sit in the closet of the group exercise class to avoid having to “work the floor” to try and get new clients.
I remember one time in particular, a few members came in there to stretch or warm up for their workout, and I’m in there hiding behind the giant exercise balls in the closet, praying they didn’t come in there to get something and find me (and yes – I just said “giant” and “balls” in the same sentence. Despite the serious tone, you’re allowed to laugh).
That’s messed up, right? Depressing, even.
Do I like admitting that? Do I like the fact that I was a “weak” enough person to let this kind of fear and lack of confidence hold me back in such a major way?
Hell no. I hate it. I hate that that is a part of my past.
Typing that here for you to see—or even just acknowledging within my own head that this was once a reality makes me uncomfortable.
But hiding from these things doesn’t do any good, either.
And you can come at me with the typical “just get over it”, or “just stop caring about what others think”, you can call me weak or think less of me for admitting any of this.
But at the end of the day, that was my reality for a while and I know this same type of struggle is something that many other men experience each day.
Too often, talks of confidence pertain to your ability to pick up a girl or rock a public speech. And while confidence absolutely plays a part in each of those situations, it also runs a lot deeper than that and affects any aspect of your life where you feel like there’s a chance of being seen as a ‘failure.’
If you’re someone who struggles with confidence, you don’t need any convincing of its importance—you know this stuff. You know how nearly every aspect of your life would get better in some way if you had more confidence.
So let’s get on with some applicable ways to start improving your confidence, starting right now.
How to get more confidence—starting right now
I’m no “guru”, but I have spent the past decade trying a lot of different things to improve my confidence.
Some of it worked. Some of it was a waste of time.
But I can say, looking back, my confidence is 10x what is was 5 years ago.
And that’s what we’re after—progress. Perfection is an illusion (and quite honestly, a distraction).
One thing I’ve learned through this pursuit is that there usually isn’t one way to more confidence—it will depend on why you lack confidence in the first place.
For me, this was about not being secure in who I was. I think that’s the starting point for a lot of folks , but I wouldn’t say that’s the case every time.
So instead of a checklist of ways to more confidence, here are some suggestions.
Consider it advice from someone who’s been battling this for a while and has tried a bunch of different things to make improvements.
Live For Authenticity
Sometimes, what masquerades as anxiety or lack of confidence is actually a matter of resolving an inner conflict. This is some deep stuff, but if you have any “secrets” that you’re living with, you’re confidence is gonna suck.
As humans, we have an innate desire for assurance that we’re the kind of person we want to be. So if something’s off—like if you’re doing things or living in a way that doesn’t fit with what you believe to be right—it’s going to impact you in a significant way.
If you’re the kinda guy who’s been chasing accolades, in hopes that achieving something will solve your confidence issues, you may want to stop and look within instead.
Being “good enough” is more about being able to look in the mirror and be okay with the person looking back at you than it is about achieving or “being” anything.
That’s something I’ve learned over and over again (maybe one of these days it’ll stick).
Bottom line: Strive for authenticity. Figure out what you’re about and live in line with those values. And if something’s off—if you’re living a double life in some capacity—vanquish that habit as soon as possible.
Live For Impact
You wanna leave a mark on this world, right? I assume that to be true, because I can’t relate to anyone who doesn’t have that gut-wrenching drive to make their time count.
Sit around, eating Doritos, and watching shitty TV all day? Nah, man.
That’s how you waste a life.
But often, standing in the way of living the kind of life that brings purpose, meaning, and fulfillment is fear.
Fear of what other people will think.
Fear of leaving the familiar behind.
Fear of failing.
Fear of the discomfort likely to come from the growth needing to take place to get you from “here” to “there.”
I lived from a place of fear for years. It was so miserable.
Constantly wondering “what if…’“
Constantly watching others find purpose and fulfillment, while I’m stuck thinking, “Dammit, that should be me… but I’m too scared.”
But then I discovered something really powerful…
Your passions have the power to overcome your weaknesses. Find something more important than the fear and the fear loses its power.
Harness that power.
Find that fire to change the world for the better and chase after it with relentless passion. Suddenly, a lot of those confidence issues start to fade away.
Default to action (ready, fire, aim)
When in doubt, just do something.
Most people who struggle with confidence over think things. We tell ourselves we’re trying to make “informed decisions” or that we’re “waiting for the right time.”
Those “in the faith” say stuff like “I’m just not sure what God’s calling me to do.”
Uncomfortable truth? This stuff is often complete bullshit.
A stalling tactic we use to avoid taking action so we can shift the blame to something other than ourselves—be it “God” or “not the right time” or whatever.
But when we do this, we’re not protecting ourselves—we’re sabotaging ourselves.
The antidote for overthinking? Action.
Get in the habit of ready, fire, aim. Force yourself to take action and correct course along the way.
- See an interesting job opening that may require significant life change? Don’t let that voice saying, “you probably won’t get it anyway…” get in your way – apply for the job and figure out the details later.
- Maybe you recognize that you need to take control of your health and transform your body, but you’re waiting for the “right time”, when you’re kids are older or when your job provides more freedom. I’ve got news for you—the “right time” will never come.
- Stuck in a season of indecision, and you’re waiting for God to send you a “sign”? Maybe he’s waiting on you to take the first step out of faith.
If you want to change something in your life, you need to start now, today. There will always be reasons not to do something, but if there’s something important that you need to do, there’s no better time to start than right now.
When you develop the habit of taking action constantly, the issues of low confidence start to fade into the background.
You start facing some of those fears that you have avoided in the past due to a lack of confidence, and you realize, “it’s not all that bad.”
In fact, the more you take action and do things you previously would have shied away from—the more powerful and motivated you’ll feel to continue moving forward.
Acknowledge Your Weaknesses
I didn’t say “accept” them. Or “embrace” them. But don’t hide from your weaknesses either.
That’s actually one of the main things that holds unconfident people back from finding the confidence they seek.
You’re so afraid that your weaknesses, your fatal flaw—whatever it may be—somehow makes you unworthy (of success, happiness, love, whatever), that you do everything you can to hide it from yourself and others.
You feel like if you admit, “Hey, I’m kinda socially awkward at times and am afraid that if I be myself others won’t like or accept me” (that’s me), then you are a weak person that others will look down on.
But I’ve found doing the opposite actually has a better positive effect on confidence.
There’s actually freedom in facing your weaknesses head on. In refusing to let the worry or fear of others finding your weaknesses out hold you back from doing what you want in life.
The more I stop trying to “save face” or make myself look strong and invincible—hiding my weaknesses—the better my confidence gets and the more enjoyable life becomes.
As an aside, most people are actually really accepting of someone who’s willing to admit their weaknesses and be open about their fight to overcome them.
And one’s who aren’t? The ones who ridicule you or think less of you? Don’t waste even a minute of your time worrying about their criticism.
Live For Constant Growth
At some point, I stopped looking at experiences and situations that made me comfortable as another opportunity for failure and instead viewed it as an opportunity for growth. You can read all the books in the world, or subscribe to ten different podcasts, but until you start facing the very thing you’re afraid of, the fear will remain.
Three little ‘hacks’ you can use to force yourself to face those situations that lack of confidence currently causes you to avoid:
- Pretend it’s practice for something bigger and better. Anytime I’d have to face something that brought on anxiety or fear, I’d say to myself, “Just another opportunity to practice being more confident.” For whatever reason, looking at potentially challenging or uncomfortable situations as “practice” made it easier to approach.
- Take action before your “rational” brain can kick in. When faced with a situation where you feel a lot of anxiety or where a lack of confidence is stopping you from doing something you want to do (or something that you need to do), jump into action before allowing your mind to talk you out of it.
- Get hostile. This is gonna sound strange, but if you are about to face something that causes you a lot of anxiety or fear, sit in your car for a few minutes before going wherever you have to go, crank up some of whatever music gets you going, and jam out. Sing at the top of your lungs. Don’t hold back. No lie – I’ve done this before going into job interviews in the past and it helps chase away the fear.
Above all, remember the only failure is giving up. Just keep showing up—keep learning from your struggles, and keep growing.
That’s all that’s required.
A final note on confidence
Doing what we’ve talked about here today—actually increasing your confidence so that you can live a high-performance lifestyle and be the person you want to be—is brutally hard work.
I wish I could sit here and tell you it’s easy.
That anyone can do it.
I wish I could give you “7 Simple Hacks To Massively Boost Confidence”, but that stuff doesn’t exist. Not if you’re after long-term, lasting change.
Improving your confidence is especially tough because it often requires change on a foundational level.
You actually have to look within and figure out why you have confidence issues in the first place, which often requires that you evaluate all of the values and beliefs we work so hard to protect and prevent anyone (ourselves included) from truly coming face to face with.
Let me tell you: doing that isn’t always fun.
And to be honest, most people don’t have what it takes to put themselves through this discomfort in the name of getting to a better place and actually improving their confidence.
And that isn’t some Jedi mind-trick of reverse psychology where I tell you can’t do it as a form of motivation. Most people truly don’t have the guts to put in the work consistently to improve their confidence and become the person they want to be.
A lot of people like to talk about changing, but very few actually follow through and do it.
But, if you’re willing to put in some work, and deal with the uncertainty and discomfort of change, you absolutely can improve confidence and live a more fulfilling life.
In the end, confidence is about a lot more than being able to pick up a girl at a bar or wear a t-shirt that’s two sizes too small to show off your biceps (although, sure, those things are fine).
Confidence is about being okay with who you are as a person.
Not “content”. But “okay.”
Never be stagnant, always stretch yourself to be better. But know that who you are as a person is enough. You don’t need to prove your worth to anyone…. THAT’S confidence.
Ironically, it would seem like getting to a point where you recognize you’re “good enough” right now to be worthy of happiness and love and acceptance would lead to complacency.
But, the opposite actually happens.
Usually, when you learn to accept yourself and have that confidence in who you are, a force within drives you to continue bettering yourself and helping others in their journey along the way.
To me, that’s a pretty worthy mission.