If you experience a lack of confidence, the good news is that you can change it. The only way you will build your self-confidence is to get out of your own head and accept that your subjective experiences may not be as straightforward as you think. Use that information to actively change your thought patterns to more realistic thoughts that motivate you to act positively in your life with confidence.
My own lack of confidence was like a wall in front of my nose all the time; whenever I had a thought or an idea or a dream, that wall would shut me down and make it clear that I could not move forward. I worked on this issue when I started my business in 2006, and overcoming my lack of confidence freed me once and for all from the invisible chains that were holding me back from achieving my my goals.
Your Thoughts Shape Your Life
While it’s true that, as a human, you are a combination of your genetics and your environment, it’s also true that you are in control of a lot more than you think, including your thought process.
Sure, you did not ask for your genetics, which makes you prone to be an introvert, shy, or worry – regardless, the way you think about the things that happen in your life will shape how your life feels to you. If you believe the things that happen are out of your control, you may feel overwhelmed.
If you are overwhelmed and unhappy and feeling a lack of confidence, it’s almost always due to how you think, and not due to your life being worse than someone else.
This is true whether you’re ill or healthy, whether you have money or not, whether you were gifted a glorious genetic lottery, or if you feel you got the short end of that stick – it’s still your thoughts that affect your behavior and feelings. It is these thoughts that motivate your action or keep you from acting.
The good news is that your thoughts shape your life, and you are in control of your thoughts. This means you are the one who is ultimately in control of your confidence level, your success level, and your entire life. Any lack of confidence you are feeling will soon disappear.
Your thoughts shape your life, and once you are fully aware and mindful of the fact that you also control your thoughts, you can now actually control your life. There are no more excuses for finding success and experiencing life satisfaction while full of self-confidence. Years ago I learned about a strategy that embraces the concept of “thoughts lead to feelings, these shape our beliefs, this leads to our actions, and those determine our results.”
Understand Your Thought Patterns
There are basic ways that most people think. These thought patterns are embedded in you. You don’t usually actively think about each step in your thought pattern, and it’s usually unconscious.
Learning your thought patterns and understanding more about how the human mind works can help you overcome all kinds of negative thought patterns and other blocks to your success.
1. Precontemplation – This is the time of thought when you’re not mindfully thinking about your problems in a holistic way. Instead, you may even read things at this stage of your thought pattern and get offended because you’re not fully explored it yet.
2. Contemplation – When you are considering your thoughts at this stage, you’re more likely to be able to connect your actions to consequences as you weigh the pros and cons of a situation or topic.
3. Preparation – When you are mindful of your thoughts, you are ready to figure out what you can do about the problem to solve it at this stage of your thought process. You know you have a problem, and you know the choices before you, and you’re ready to do something.
4. Action – This is the point at which your thought pattern guides your behavior. This is the time in the thought process that you act based on the goals you’ve set, the problem you’ve determined exists, and so forth. Usually, people at this point will act, or they’ll ask for help to get someone else to take action.
5. Maintenance – This part of your thought process is needed to avoid creating bad habits that keep you stuck. Since you’re mindful of your thought patterns, you can notice situations where you need to learn more, do more, and keep making changes.
6. Termination – At this stage, you’ve managed your thoughts and actions to the point that you no longer do behaviors that are not leading you to the results you desire. For example, if you know that working out 20 minutes a day helps you maintain your weight and you’re focused on the big picture instead of how you feel while you’re working out, you’re going to be more likely to do it because you’ve terminated or eliminated behaviors that don’t produce the results you’re seeking.
Keep in mind that this describes a healthy thought pattern, which ultimately leads to a permanent elimination of your lack of confidence. If you stop at contemplation, you may need to address what else needs to happen so that you can get out of your own way and achieve the goals and objectives. You can also actively push yourself through the thought cycle to affect change.
Aside from the general way that people think things through, you’re also affected by generational influences, cultural differences, and other outside forces that affect how you think or judge any situation.
The thinking you want to most encourage is considered the most useful is the ability to use insightful thinking. Insightful thinking focuses on solving problems. First, you note the problem, find the various solutions, choose one of the solutions and then implement the solution. When it comes to changing your old thought patterns, there are many ways to break the cycle.
Break the Cycle of Your Old Thought Patterns
Now that you understand that your thoughts drive your emotions, and your feelings lead your actions or inaction, as the case may be — your thoughts dictate your decisions, behaviors, relationships, and the happiness or satisfaction you feel regarding every aspect of your life.
Thankfully, if you’re mindful and solution-focused, you’ll be able to pay close attention to your thought patterns, noting when they are not helpful. This will enable you to improve your thought pattern and break the cycle of inaction and self-sabotage that wreaks havoc on your self-image.
The result will be that you feel more confident in your everyday actions. Don’t try to accomplish this task overnight, though. It takes effort to develop enough mindfulness to act automatically in this regard. Thankfully, with practice, it starts happening without thinking about it.
• Understand Cause and Effect — Every action you take creates a reaction or a result. To ensure that you’ve got the cause and effect correct when you make decisions, you’ll need to look at the data you generate to learn the truth. If you don’t have proof of the cause and effect you assume, don’t use it in your decision-making process.
• Never Stop Learning – One way to ensure that you’re making choices in life that are solid, good decisions is to keep learning. Try to read more. Reading a book each month about a topic you need to know about or interest in learning will change your life. Lifetime learning is essential to your happiness, and your satisfaction is vital to your confidence.
• Know How to Research Facts – It was a while ago that you took English in high school or college but give yourself a refresher course on how to research for facts. Go to the college and university websites to read how they judge and evaluate sources like this one from Benedictine University which recommends the CRAAP test. (https://researchguides.ben.edu/source-evaluation)
• Know Your Morals, Principles, and Values – Take a deep dive into your own ideas about morals, principles, and values because if you know what yours are, making good choices becomes so much simpler. When you make choices that align with your morals, principles, and values, it feels good, and your self-esteem will improve.
• Be Your Own Best Friend – Whenever you choose something in your life, consider what you’d tell your best friend if they approached you with this question you’re facing. Most of us are kinder to other people.
• Be Your Own Parent – Pretend you’re talking to a wise grandparent or parent and give yourself the advice they would give you. Or pretend you’re a parent and give yourself the direction you’d give your own child.
• Do the Thing – It’s imperative that, no matter what, you show up and do the things you set out to do.
• Get a New Perspective – Try looking at a situation in a new way through someone else’s eyes. You can do this by reading books, journals, blogs, and magazines. You can also watch YouTube videos to find out the current thought on the topic. But you can also ask the people you know for their perspective.
• Don’t “Should” Yourself – As you consider your options and open your mind to new ways of thinking, avoid telling yourself you “should” do anything. Always question any time someone says you should do anything, especially if it’s only based on tradition or some other idea that isn’t fact-based.
• Take Your Time – Don’t rush the process as you consider new possibilities. Rushing through your thought process is counterproductive. Instead, you want to give yourself plenty of time to organize and evaluate your thoughts.
• Become Solution Focused – As you consider problems, don’t focus everything and every thought on the issue itself, instead focus on the solution as you consider different ideas.
• Visualize What You Desire – If you tend to ruminate, but you don’t want to do that anymore, imagine what life would be like if you stopped. How would it change you if you no longer allowed circular thoughts?
• Practice – Like everything else you do in your life, purposefully practicing the skills you want to perfect is essential to helping you break the cycle of getting in your own way and self-sabotage.
Breaking the cycle of self-sabotage requires that you understand how your mind works and a complete understanding of what you really want from life. This can take time and effort, but anyone can accomplish it once they fully understand how simple it really is.
Your thoughts affect your moods and influence your actions. To change your feelings, moods and get more success in your life, you must change your thought pattern.
Change Your Thought Pattern and Reframe Your Thinking
Regardless of how educated you are or how much experience in life you have, learning how to change your thought patterns to reframe your thinking will unleash more confidence by helping you overcome common cognitive distortions that stand in your way.
Thinking is not really a passive thing that you do without any control over it. However, if you don’t accept the degree of control have to change your thoughts and improve the way you think, you won’t get far when it comes to making the changes you need.
Since you need to be more solution-focused, consider the fact that studies show that with practice, you can change your thought patterns, specifically with lack of confidence by reframing your thinking.
Notice Your Negativity
When you recognize that you have a negative thought, try to take the time to consider it behind acceptance. For example, when you are engaging in limiting beliefs that are usually accomplished with negative thoughts, stop – and really think about it. As you think about what goes through your mind, include alternatives to the negative view of the thought instead of going with the flow.
Challenge Your Thoughts
When you have a negative thought about a situation, especially if it’s negativity about yourself, take the time to reframe the thinking into a positive thought. If you can’t be positive, at least make it neutral. A nonjudgmental neutral thought instead of a negative one can often be even more powerful because it doesn’t force toxic positivity.
Time Your Negativity
While you do need to explore your thoughts, you don’t want to allow the negative thoughts to cloud your life. Set time limits for negative thoughts. Stop at the prescribed time and move on to turning it positive.
For example, if you fought with your spouse or partner and can’t stop going over it in your mind while trying to do something else, go ahead and give yourself a few minutes to let your thoughts go wild. Set a timer for two minutes and then let it go and move on.
Become More Child-Like
Pretend you’re a child and look at a situation from a new perspective that is more accepting and childlike. Children are very innocent and not jaded yet. Most children, when they see something new, react with awe before they react with fear. If you have clouded potential through jaded eyes, this method to change your thoughts works wonders. Try to observe as if you’re brand new. Look at the colors. Smell the smells. Feel the feelings as if it’s all brand new.
Let Go of Judgement
One of the issues that get in the way for many people as they work toward changing their thought patterns and reacting differently is judgment. Sadly, many people experience judgment often from others, from themselves, and others. While evaluating a situation is okay, judging something without evidence and proof is not practical or helpful.
Even in the darkest times, if you can find something for which you’re thankful and even joyful about, it will do more to relieve stress, anxiety, and low self-image than almost anything else you do in your life. Understand when you should be grateful, and if you can’t, be thankful you’re breathing and move from there. This is not to be harsh because, certainly, there are times that it’s hard to find a reason to be grateful. It’s okay, though, to sometimes grasp at straws if you recognize it.
Whenever you’re stuck in a particular thought pattern, and you know you need to get out of it so you can succeed, ask for feedback from others. The trick here is finding the right people to ask. You don’t want to ask people who are known for ruining your self-image, and you don’t want to ask people who are smoke blowers. You need genuine, honest feedback. You may need a life coach or a counselor to help provide it.
Focus on Your Strengths
One thing that can play games with your self-confidence is when you’re always trying to improve yourself. Improving yourself forces you to notice what’s wrong with you. It may seem ironic since you’re reading this information about becoming more confident, but sometimes focusing on what you’re already good at and becoming even better is the cure for lack of confidence. So, if you’re good at writing, do more of it. If you’re a good painter, do more of it. Whatever you’re good at, become an expert and do more of it.
Record Your Thoughts
Keeping a thought diary is an excellent way to start becoming more aware of your thought patterns. You cannot change something if you don’t acknowledge it exists. After you realize it exists, you can then find the path to change it. One way to explore this option is to catalog your thoughts and track your behavior and the results of your actions over time.
Put Feelings in Their Place
There is nothing wrong with your feelings. Feelings really can’t be judged as either good or bad. But it’s not accurate to say you cannot control your emotions. Your thoughts are what cause your feelings, and you are in control of your thoughts. To assist your ability with this idea, stop judging your emotions. Let them be. They are as they are. But whatever they are need not affect your smart choices made based on knowledge.
Face Unpleasantness… Don’t Avoid It
When you’re able to put your feelings in their place, it’s a lot easier to face unpleasantness so that you can get it over with faster. As you deal with issues, even the unpleasant ones, the moment you’ve created a solution, with practice, you’ll develop confidence in your ability to overcome and succeed.
When faced with any problem, focus on the solution to that problem instead of the problem. For example, if you believe you’re overweight, the solution is to eat less and lose weight. Focus on finding ways to eat less so you can lose weight instead of sitting around thinking about being fat.
Improve Your Vocabulary
Building your knowledge and using that knowledge to create solutions is a skill that separates you from others. Learning more by improving your vocabulary surrounding the topics that affect your life will serve you well. For example, the entire matter of self-confidence has a whole language of its own that you need to learn to develop a complete understanding of.
Learn New Thought Organizing Techniques
One way to change your thought pattern is to learn about all the ways to organize your thoughts. Everyone thinks and learns differently. Some people use mind maps. Others like to use lists, idea chunks, visualization, index cards, and so forth to get the thoughts out and organized. Eliminating your lack of confidence is closer than it seems.
Sleep on It
When something is particularly challenging, don’t expect to solve it right away. Use a “brain dump” method and then stop thinking about it. Just let it all go until tomorrow. Sleeping and putting off deciding until later works for most problems because most problems are not emergencies. However, do set a time limit, and your lack of confidence will be on its way out for good.
Ask for Help
When it comes to learning how to change your thoughts, mind, and life, getting help from a counselor or a life coach is well worth it. It’s not overly expensive to work with a life coach these days, and most insurance today covers some forms of mental health.
Life coaches work with you on one issue, which they probably specialize in. You may need to work with several life coaches to solve several problems as you grow and change throughout your life. Usually, a coach will offer group and one on one options in many price ranges. Try to find someone with real success dealing with your situation.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, an ongoing case study in how anyone can go from having a lack of confidence to becoming someone oozing with confidence in every area of life.