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The Unlearning You Need to Truly Become More Confident

By Sara Lewis
January 14, 2022

If you want to become more confident, you’re not alone — it’s a goal for many people. But I’ll let you in on a secret: While there’s always room to grow, you’re more confident than you think. It’s just that your confidence has been buried under layers of fears and limiting beliefs. Allowing your confidence to shine means shedding those layers, which can be done by unlearning negative beliefs.

Confidence is developed throughout your early years. Your parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors unconsciously contributed to how confident you grew up to be. Parents usually fall into one of two camps: 

  1. The parents who praise the heck out of their kids
  2. The parents who are tough on their kids 

So, which group produces the most confident adults?

It depends on how you interpret what was said. Your subconscious stores what you hear and also what you don’t hear. As a kid, your belief system is still being created and your brain is still developing, so you quite literally don’t have the ability to question what the adults are saying to you. Your subconscious processes everything and stores it as a belief.

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If you had the type of parents who celebrated your achievements, you may actually have lower self-confidence. Odd, right? Here’s why: When you receive praise only when you’re successful, that trains a young, impressionable mind to equate achievement with confidence. If you were celebrated only when you won at sports, earned straight A’s, or received an award, that can reinforce the “fixed mindset.”

Carol Dweck, who wrote Mindset, says that the “growth mindset” comes from being praised about the process, not the end result. So failures are not viewed as failures, but as lessons that are part of the journey to achievement. Parents who praise their kids for trying and practicing produce the most confident kids. Those are the kids who don’t blame others when they fail. They can handle their emotions and will keep trying to improve. 

Your confidence has been cultivated by external experiences and events, and there’s a gap between who you are at your core and who you’ve become. So when you want to increase confidence, that takes introspection. You have to rewire your brain. Your conscious mind is currently reading, but your subconscious mind is living in the past.

Because it stands to reason that you can program your subconscious to recall negative associations, you can also retrain it to be positive. You can change your brain to no longer be a record of the past and instead, become a map to the future.

How to increase confidence

Increasing confidence starts with focusing on who you wish to become by envisioning your future self. To start, try the following exercise:  

  • When you think about yourself three years from now, do you see yourself as more confident?
  • Take a moment to describe what you and your life look like.
  • Are you a better communicator? Do you speak up for what’s important to you?
  • Do you seek out opportunities to shine and share your message?
  • Are you happy and looking forward to how the day unfolds?
  • Do you love your strong, healthy body? What clothes are you wearing?

This vision of your future self is all within your control. Confidence is a skill you can learn by the habits you create. One of the primary factors that shapes your personality is the behavior and habits that stem from setting goals. So, your goal is to become your future self. 

You may be familiar with the SMART method of goal-setting. The acronym stands for Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound goals. This method is often the only way people are taught to set goals. But sometimes, setting a goal and missing it can lead to decreased confidence.

This happens when you set a goal that is outside of your control. Control is the critical factor left out of the SMART method. Changing the way you set goals sets you up for success. Here, I’ll introduce the SMACT method of goal setting.

The SMACT method

In the SMACT method, the R is replaced with a C. The C stands for controllable. When you set goals, make sure they are actually within your control. 

Let me give you an example: Let’s say you envision yourself as a published author. The goal should not be “get my book published.” Because ultimately, you have no control over a publishing house’s decision. The controllable goal would be “Send my book pitch to a dozen publishing houses.” You have control over how many pitches you send out. Keep the SMACT method in mind as you set new goals to become your future self. Remember, it’s the actions you take towards achieving your goals that molds your personality.

The confidence habit

Goals are about the results you want to achieve, but in order to achieve them, you have to go through a process that leads to results — and this process is where you find your habits. You can reach your goals faster when your habits are aligned. So once you’ve stated your goal of who you want to become, you must create the habits to back it up. 

When your goal is to become a confident person, ask yourself: What habits would a confident person possess?

For instance, a confident person would:

  •     Go live on social media regularly
  •     Send multiple follow up emails to clients about services they are launching
  •     Look their boss and coworkers in the eyes when sharing their differing perspective

Choose just one habit and start putting it into action. For example: write in your calendar that every Tuesday at 10am, you go live on Instagram. And do it every week until that becomes a habit. Then you’ll continue doing it because you have become a confident person. Goal achieved, identity changed!

Regardless of your level of confidence, know that it’s possible to improve when you focus on who you wish to become.

Sara Lewis loves to empower introverts to use their personality to their advantage. As the founder of Introverts Emerge, she created a method backed by neuroscience that teaches introverted professionals how to show up authentically. Through coaching and training, Sara helps introverts accept their personality and leverage it so introverts can increase visibility and make an impact without compromising who they are. When she’s not coaching, you can find Sara relaxing at home, walking her dog, or reading a good book.

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