This is an outline I made for a talk about confidence I am asked to do in a community called INA Indonesia.
When the organisers suggested the topic, I was like, OK, confidence.
I can see how it’s an interesting and relevant topic to a lot of people especially introverts who tend to overthink and be self-conscious about more things than we need to be.
But what should I talk about on confidence?
I started thinking, wondering. What is this thing called confidence? What makes this concept so interesting to a lot of people? So many self-help books written on it, right? Why do we want it? How to get more of this? Y’know, get all philosophical like that.
I’m not gonna go down that rabbit hole, so let’s focus on 2 questions.
With the answers, I hope you’ll be able to walk away with the right mindset on how to think about confidence, have practical takeaways, and can start manufacturing them in the comfort of your own pace and space and practice in all kinds of situations.
The questions are:
- What is this thing we call “confidence”?
- How to be more confident
What is this thing we call “confidence”?
Let’s start by defining what confidence means. What is confidence?
I found this definition: “Confidence is a state of mind where your brain believe that you’re capable of doing something“.
Another definition is “a feeling of trust and firm belief in yourself or others“.
Interesting. Never thought about it that way. It can mean to confide in yourself and confide in others. Let’s just focus on confidence in yourself for now.
My favourite quote about confidence is:
Confidence is not ‘They will like me’. Confidence is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t’.
It means what? Needing no approval. Something internal. Something you grow inside you. Not something anyone gives you.
I think there are 2 sides of confidence:
- being perceived as a confident person
- being a confident person
Be oblivious: I like to go out alone. I also enjoy eating alone in restaurants. I was never aware that it’s considered weird? So ya I did it, “confidently”. But the reality is, I didn’t know it’s something you need confidence for
Fake it till you make it. I am sure we all have heard of this advice. Pick a role model, model after them, appear confident, people treat you better, you become more and more at ease, feedback loop, and bam you’re getting more confident. In my opinion It’s not authentic, it’s not sustainable, and honestly, it just sounds so tiring. Especially for introverts. It would make us hide even more, no?
Think about it the right way (definition problem)
Have the right identity (belief problem)
Expand your comfort zone (capability problem)
Understand human nature (social interaction problem)
What’s a common misconception on “confidence”?
The first misconception is, in my opinion, there is no such thing as “a 100% confident person”. Everyone has things they are confident about and things they are not confident about.
The second misconception is that confidence is this destination to arrive at. As if there’s a switch, there’s a secret, that it’s a single thing to be achieved.
“I want to be confident” is a false goal to use in the beginning.
So if you find yourself googling “how to be confident”, stop. And think: what am I not confident about?
Have the right identity
What is identity?
These are things you say to yourself. I am a morning person. I cannot cook. I am stingy. Even saying you are an introvert is an identity.
These are things we identify with. All the little things that make you who you are.
All the little things that you choose, either consciously or unconsciously, to form this thing you call “you”.
Now, you might be wondering, what does identity have to do with being confident? I’ll tell you in a moment, and it will make more sense.
I have never thought too much about “confidence” as a thing on its own, so I never thought man “I am so confident” or “I am not a confident person”.
Now, this is a very common root issue with a lot of our problems that we face in modern life: we have the problem because we think it’s a problem.
If you picked up the belief that you are not a confident person, you adopted that identity, then bam, you are not confident.
Makes sense right?
The second common issue is we have the wrong definition of the problem.
We think “I am fat” when we mean “I have slightly more fat on my body more than I wish to have”. Another example would be “I am bad at phone calls” when what you mean is “I don’t enjoy having phone calls”.
The first is an identity. The second is self-awareness about your current situation / predisposition / preference, detached from your “self”. It is framed in a way that is more actionable.
I am not saying I don’t have insecurities. But I just don’t label it as this umbrella term of “not confident”. It’s very dangerous. Be aware of how you decide to think about something. It matters a lot.
Once you adopt an identity, you would become attached to it. And the way your mind works is it will do everything to confirm your worldview. We might hear the term “confirmation bias”.
If you don’t fix the identity piece before you seek out on accomplishing your goals, you would self-sabotage, unconsciously. Or not being able to fully embrace the change. Your mind would cling to that fat person. You will feel you don’t deserve being thin, for example. We are a very irrational creature.
I think the very very core fundamental thing to get right, to be more confident is to notice your insecurities and think about or frame them the right way.
Expand your comfort zone
The border of your comfort zone is marked by the stuff you’re scared to do. You’re not sure yet how to do; you’ve never done before.
But the more goals you accomplish and challenges you overcome, the bigger your comfort zone became, the more confident you will be.
This means there is no book you can read, no course you can enrol in, no shortcut you can take, to become more confident.
The only way is to again, identify what are the things you are not confident about. Then work on each of them. Throw yourself into challenges and build your confidence in that specific area.
I love learning about human nature and human behaviour. What makes us tick, why we do the things we do the way we do it, why we don’t do the things we know we better do.
As it has been said a million times before, we are social animals. A large chunk of confidence is measured and deeply rooted in social comparisons.
I’ll just share a couple of hacks that I find has helped in lowering my self-consciousness and become more confident in social interactions.
Appearances (external hack)
Physical appearance matters.
Do you know those viral social experiments videos where someone gets treated differently depending on how they dress? Or the findings that attractive people get a higher salary? Those are true.
So groom yourself, take care of your health. If you feel good, you will look good. If you look good, you will feel more confident.
Mindset hacks (internal hack)
Know and remember these:
- No one has it all figured out. Even experienced actors, musicians, and comedians still get stage fright. Don’t beat yourself up if you are nervous; it doesn’t mean you are not “confident”. It means you’re human. Set a realistic bar.
- People forget easily / no one cares. Not a single person has you on their mind for very long. This is a superpower once you realise it.
- Generally, people want you to succeed. Usually, it’s not you against the world.
- “What’s the worst thing that can happen”.
- Don’t flatter yourself; it’s about them. Experience, not performance.
- No one has ever seen the world through your eyes. There is a Universe inside you. Run that shit.