The more I talk with introverts and highly sensitive people, the more I hear a deep desire to feel more confident. And although I did a series on confidence earlier this year, I’m beginning to realize that this confidence building thing isn’t answered with just a few tips and some mental “hacks”.
What’s actually needed is a major reframe.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend thousands of dollars on a coach (though I’d be happy to talk to you if that’s what you’re looking to do. wink, wink), and it doesn’t mean that you have to move to a new city and start a new life. Or whatever other drastic, scary thing might be your go-to nightmare scenario when words like major and reframe are thrown at you.
So, what does a major reframe look like?
It’s kind of like you are a tourist in a new place and you’re walking around looking at everything through the viewfinder of your camera… until someone reminds you to put the camera down for a minute. And suddenly you realize you’ve been missing a lot of the scenery.
But, what does that have to do with confidence?
The same introverts and HSPs that tell me they want more confidence, also tell me that they have a hard time thinking of their strengths, that they feel inadequate, incompetent, and unworthy (not in those words exactly, but those are the feelings they’ve shared). And I was right there with them for most of my life.
Imagine you are a landscape photographer and you want to photograph Horsetail Fall at Yosemite. But you only ever look at Half Dome. How would you ever capture the image of the waterfall?
So, if what you want is confidence, but you focus your attention on “all the bad things” (how you fail, how you’re not good enough, what other people criticize you on, where you’re weak, etc)… guess what?
Right, you’re not going to take a picture of the waterfall. And you’ll never build confidence on a foundation of I’m not good enough.
If you want more confidence, first focus on what you do right.
Take a step back, set down the camera, and look at the full landscape. Your life is full of accomplishments, meaningful moments, worthiness, and beautiful waterfalls.
Good news: you get to choose where to point your camera.
Focus your camera on the good things, on your strengths, and on your true essence. This is the foundation for more confidence.
Confidence is something you build. Don’t waste your focus on things that shake your foundation.
Start building your foundation…
To help you start focusing on the good stuff, here is my interpretation of an exercise I learned from Martin Seligman’s book Flourish:
- At the end of the day, write down what went well today (at least 1 thing, but aim for 3 things).
- For each thing that went well, write down what your part was in making it go well (as in how are you responsible for this thing going well?).
- Repeat this daily for at least 1 week (longer is better).
I like this exercise because it doesn’t take a long time and focuses your attention on the good things you are actually doing every single day.
Note: Even if you are reading this thinking you are a complete failure who couldn’t possibly have even 1 thing to write down on a daily basis, I encourage you to try it. You’ll be surprised how quickly the accomplishments build up.
Photo Credit: “Focusing Far Away” by Miss C.J. on Flickr.