“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.”
Barrie Davenport (Author, Building Confidence)
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
Thomas Jefferson (3rd United States President)
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary (Mountaineer, One of First To Climb Mt. Everest)
The driver jumped out of his car as it was still moving.
He ran over to my car and ripped the door open.
My friend was in the passenger seat bracing himself against the glove compartment. His eyes were huge.
I was 17 years old and cut this other driver off. That was his story.
To teach me a lesson, the driver followed me into a restaurant parking lot, swung his car in front of mine, and jumped out.
The driver was about 40 years old with a dirty brown car (that was still rolling forward).
Great, I’m about to be strangled in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut.
As he ripped the door open, the driver started yelling at me. Then we made eye contact and he stopped.
He saw that I was just a kid.
A terrified kid.
The red drained from his face and he said “be more careful next time.”
I nodded my head up and down really fast and waited for him to leave before parking and going into the restaurant.
As my friend and I started to eat, I kept thinking…
What made the crazy bearded man change his mind so quickly?
Choose A Stronger Story
The driver who freaked out on me did so because he thought I was a grown up jerk who was purposely trying to kill him.
That was the story he told himself.
So, he made up his mind to teach me a lesson.
Then he saw that I was a scared teenager and created a new story in his head.
The new story was that I just made a mistake and should be given a break.
Confident people create confident stories for themselves.
They don’t tell themselves that they’re too young, too old, too weak, too poor, too isolated, too busy, or too unlucky.
Instead, they tell themselves that they are the perfect age, strong in mind, rich in opportunities, surrounded by possible connections, and very lucky.
Confident people also tell themselves confident stories about other people.
They don’t think the world is out to get me, other people have an unfair advantage over me, or everyone else knows more than me.
They think thoughts like other people don’t owe me anything, I can learn anything anyone else can learn, and I know what’s best for my life more than anyone else.
When bad things happen, confident people give what happened a strong meaning.
They don’t say this is just my luck or I didn’t deserve this.
They say I’m going to learn something from this and I’m going to come out of this stronger than before.
How Stories Control Your Brain
The stories you tell yourself program your mind.
The stories you hear from other people program your mind too, whether you want them to or not.
A Princeton University study found that when two people communicate by telling each other stories, neural activity over wide regions of their brains become almost synchronous, with the listener’s brain activity patterns mirroring the patterns sweeping through the speaker’s brain.
Storytelling is so powerful that it’s used as a form of psychotherapy called narrative therapy where therapists work with patients to create better meanings for their experiences.
The stories, or meanings you give to your experiences come together to create beliefs.
These beliefs come together to create the rules for your life.
Bad meanings create limiting beliefs that will keep you from taking confident action.
More than anything else, bad meanings will keep you from your biggest goals.
3 Myths Self-Confident People Ignore
If you want to start living a more confident life, start telling yourself more confident stories.
The stories you tell yourself affect you actions.
Use routine events to your advantage by tagging them with stronger, more empowering meanings.
The key is that you get to choose the meaning of everything that happens to you.
Once you choose a confident meaning, you can apply a confident strategy to the situation.
Here are 3 myths confident people ignore completely…
1. Myth #1—Listening to unsolicited advice for your life is a sign of maturity.
All advice is not worth your time.
Too many people tell themselves the story that other people know more than they do. They tell themselves that they should always be open for criticism.
Don’t believe this lie. It’s just a bad story.
When someone decides to give you unsolicited advice, don’t passively let the this-is-good-for-me-meaning stick.
Instead, give it a better meaning.
Give it the meaning that there are 7 billion people on the planet and this is just one person’s opinion.
Give it the meaning that this person does not know you as well as you know you and as such, should be ignored.
Confident people know that not everyone is worth listening to.
They also know that they’re not going to get in trouble or be punished for ignoring other people’s opinions.
Instead, they’ll be rewarded for ignoring other people’s opinions. They’ll grow faster.
They’ll differentiate themselves and have more original thoughts.
2. Myth #2—Standing up for yourself will make other people take you seriously.
Is there anything worse than getting a passive aggressive email from someone who is just trying to suck you into their meaningless drama?
What about the guy who gets in the elevator before you and presses the close door button in rapid-fire succession so you can’t get in?
Or your boss who yells at you like you’re a toddler just because he’s having a bad day?
Or your toxic friend who plays the victim every time you do something they don’t want you to do?
When these things happen, it’s easy to label the event as both a personal emergency and a test of might.
Someone threw down and you need to respond.
The truth is people who engage in this kind of drama are the world’s biggest time-wasters.
They spend hours trying to show someone they’re wrong instead of just putting it into their mental shredder and moving on.
If someone seriously challenges your personal life, career, or business, yes—be bold. Stand up for yourself and never back down.
But if some troll sends you a nasty email, or calls you a moron online, or tells a friend of a friend of a friend that you’re ugly—let it go.
You are ugly. At least in the morning. We all are.
Give the event a better meaning, like this person’s dog just died or this person is weak and desperately fighting for my attention but doesn’t deserve it.
Move on. Get back to work. Crush them with your success, not with some ill-planned emotional reaction.
3. Myth #3—Other people should give you what you want when you give them what they want.
It’s easy to blame your boss for all of your problems. It’s easy to blame your friends, family, and relationship partners too.
These people have the power to influence you and that’s not fair.
Plus, you’ve come to expect things from them.
You expect them to have your best interests at heart. You expect them to put your needs above their needs.
You’ve given them influence and they owe you something in return. The end.
Wrong. This is not the end.
This is just a story—a story you’re foolishly telling yourself.
Just because you’ve given someone the power to influence you (they didn’t take it at gunpoint), it doesn’t mean they owe you anything in return.
Start telling yourself a better story.
You’ve chosen to be dependent on someone else and they influence your feelings and actions because you’re dependent on them.
Okay, that’s still not a great story but it’s better.
It’s better because now you can see the real problem—your dependence. The next step is to choose a new meaning and a new way to live.
You’re no longer going to be completely dependent on anyone for your happiness or success. You’re going to be more self-reliant from here on out.
Now that’s a much better story.
The key to improve self-confidence is creating better stories and better strategies. Taking control of the meaning you give to events will allow you to change your beliefs and change the rules you live your life by. Once you change the rules, you can change your actions to achieve your goals.
Check out my book of personal and professional advice, Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Create A Powerful Purpose For Their Lives.