Self-confidence is not something anyone is born into, and a lack of one can be caused by a multitude of reasons. So how do you gain that feeling of trust in your own abilities, in your own skills? Where does a lack of self-confidence come from? And why is it so important to trust your own competence and strengths?
I asked Calan Breckon, a Personal Development Coach, writer, and educator, on the topic of self-confidence, and here is what this inspiring person wrote:
1. What is your relationship with self-confidence, and why do you think it is so important?
Talk about a loaded question! Haha! My relationship with self-confidence has definitely been a work in progress, and I think that goes for literally everyone. I didn’t grow up in a great household, very low income, and it is what it is, but my mother always did her best to build me up because she wanted to break the cycle. She always made sure I knew I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, and even though she tried her best, that imposter syndrome still manages to always find the backdoor that’s unlocked somehow, aka I’m just as human as the next person.
Now that I’m older, I know that confidence is a habit and something that you can learn and train. It’s like a muscle that you need to constantly be working out in order for it to grow and improve. Each time you think you’re confident in something, the universe will come along and deliver an even BIGGER thing that will shake you up and challenge you to either rise to the occasion, or back away in fear. My confidence practice means that I can look at those “scary” things as opportunities to grow and develop my confidence muscles even more.
I think it’s essential that people begin to understand that confidence is something that is a work in progress. It’s something you can learn, that’s kind of the point of it all. No one comes into the world being amazing at anything, we grow up, and as we grow we learn, and through that learning comes confidence. Any time you start something, it’s going to be scary because you’ve never done it before, and thus you don’t have the confidence around it. But, the confidence will only come AFTER you go through the experience in order to grow and build more confidence. It’s one of the biggest reasons most people never change in life, and because they lack confidence in the thing they want to do, but it is only ever going to come after doing it.
2. According to you, what could cause a lack of self-confidence?
Literally everything and anything! It almost always comes from your experiences growing up, and how you perceived the situations. Imagine a young child who is in a choir, and wants to sing a solo but has never sung a solo before. They know from everyone around them that it’s important (and kind of exciting), and that everyone will be watching them at that moment. Now imagine that child messes up the solo, and afterwards the conductor shames them for not having practiced enough to get it right. This experience is going to create a belief inside the child that maybe they aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, etc, and now every time something comes up in life, like a promotion or opportunity, they will revert back to that child who was shamed and told they weren’t good enough. This has a huge impact on the rest of their life and the internal self-talk that they’re going to have as a result.
Now, imagine that, instead of shaming the child, the conductor praised the child for messing up. They say something like “you tried your hardest, and I know it can be scary, but at least you did it! Now you can learn from this experience and get better for next time!” Now they are in a completely different mindset compared to the first example. They’ve been set up with a mentality that teaches them that “failure” is just an opportunity to learn and to grow.
I could go so deep with this and countless examples but at the base of it all, if you grew up with crappy belief systems being passed on to you from adults that are holding you back because no one ever taught you that there is a different way to think, then you owe it to yourself to seek out better ways of thinking. Nothing in life is set in stone, and the only thing you can count on is change, which means if you currently have a lack of self-confidence, all you need to do is decide that you want to change it, and then start taking baby steps to learn a different way.
3. What first steps can people take to start believing in themselves?
Like I said, baby steps. I know we live in an instant gratification world right now, but if you want anything in your life to change, you need to commit for the long haul. Your life is going to happen regardless if you work at it or not, so you might as well make the effort to commit to a 1% better a day mindset.
Most people try to change too much too fast, and end up moving backwards because it’s too jarring to their system. I work off a 1% at a time mindset. Anything you want to change, just focus on the next step. If you want to make a change in your life, look up a book to read, google a mentor or leader in that area or industry, watch some videos on youtube. There is SO much information out there now, that it can be overwhelming, but if you just focus on finding one person or doing 1 thing at a time, little by little you will improve because at least now you are putting in the effort. Your life isn’t a race, there is no finish line and you’re not going to win anything by doing it “faster.” Go at your own pace, focus on enjoying the journey, and make the effort 1 step, 1 day, 1 choice at a time, and eventually before you know it, you’ll have changed your life, and it wasn’t even that much work or effort.
For me, I started with reading books, and finding mentors online that I could consume all of their content. Then eventually I started taking classes, going to conferences, and little by little my life took shape to where it is today. The important thing to remember here is to find what works for you, and then enjoy the journey.
4. Do people need to cultivate self-confidence, and if yes, how can they do it?
I already touched on this in the other questions but in short, yes. Confidence comes from DOING, making mistakes, learning, and growing. It does not come from sitting around and hoping for the best or wishing for it. You’re going to have to get your feet wet if you want to learn how to swim. Keep in mind that along the journey, you will mess up, you will get it wrong, you won’t be perfect, and that it’s all part of the process. I wish there was some magic button we could push, and instantly be perfect at the things we want but it just doesn’t work like that. Even Adele still sings wrong notes when she’s practicing, but she still does it because the end results are so worth it. Anything in life is going to take effort, and that’s the point, we didn’t come to be blobs that just got everything they wanted all the time at the snap of our fingers. Life is set up like this to push us so that we are constantly growing, learning, and pushing ourselves further into the future, and I, for one, think that it’s very exciting.
5. What are the benefits of being self-confident?
For me, it means I get to live my life in more flow, and enjoy the journey instead of feeling like I’m struggling all the time. To everyone, it will look different but would you rather look at yourself in the mirror, and feel like crap, or would you rather look in the mirror, and actually like the person looking back at you? When you make the choice to change, your whole world changes with you.
6. What tools would you recommend for people who want to learn more about self-confidence?
Well, to start, if you’re a gay man reading this right now, you should join the Gay Men’s Brotherhood private facebook group! It’s full of amazing guys, all going on their own journeys that get to help support each other along the way. Being in a conscious community has literally changed my life. We also have a podcast called “Gay Men Going Deeper”, which I’d suggest checking out.
Some of my favourite teachers and mentors have been Gabrielle Bernstein, Brené Brown, and Oprah. The book “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown is a great place to start, also her TED Talk on vulnerability is a classic.
Also, therapy. I’m a huge believer in mental health and taking care of ourselves in order to help the world and others. If your company offers any type of therapy or counselling, I highly suggest jumping on it while you can. Just starting the conversation, and getting the ball rolling is such a powerful choice that if you have the means to do so, you should.
I am a Certified Personal Development Coach, writer, educator, and creator of “The Shame Detox”, a 6 week online coaching course. I teach people who are feeling lost, overwhelmed and exhausted by life how to take back control, drop the stress, shame and anxiety and live more fulfilling and confident lives. I’m also one of the leaders and co-creators of the Gay Men’s Brotherhood, a peer to peer personal development group for gay men, as well as one of the hosts of the “Gay Men Going Deeper” podcast. I’ve been in the personal development world for over 10 years now and I’ve been coaching professionally for the last 3 years. My biggest goal when working with someone is helping them realize that they already have everything they need inside themselves to change their own story and to create a new reality for themselves, they just need a hand figuring it all out. I currently call Toronto home but I’ve lived in 5 major cities all over the world: Vancouver, New York, London UK, Dubai and now Toronto. I’ve been to over 79 countries and over 200 cities and I still have so many more to see! (I love to travel a little bit). If you would like to know more you can visit www.DiscoveringYourTruth.com or follow me on Instagram @CatchCal.
About the interviewer
My name is Jeff Monnery, a videographer and documentarian whose mission is to ensure people are given the choice to make positive changes toward self-empowerment. I am the founder of Spoken Out Stories, a video series about stories of people who lived a hard experience in their life, and found their way to move forward with courage, determination, and optimism.
You can connect with me through my social media pages: Instagram — @jeffmonnery Twitter — @jeffmonnery Facebook — @JeffMonnery LinkedIn — @jeffmonnery
About An Unlearning Initiative
An Unlearning Initiative is an interview series of people sharing the experience and expertise on various topics around mental health, self-empowerment, empathy, and love.
It is about giving others diverse perspectives from around the World to help unlearn misconceptions and enlighten people toward a better understanding of what is around them.
You can connect with An Unlearning Initiative through these social media pages:
Instagram — @anunlearninginitiative
Twitter — @AnUnlearning
Facebook — @anunlearninginitiative