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How to Build Confidence From Scratch

How to Build Confidence From Scratch

Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie “The Eagle” is a British skier whom no one believed in before he made it to the Olympics.

Eddie was slightly overweight, extremely far sighted (he wore thick glasses) and trained in second hand equipment. At times he even stayed in a Finnish mental hospital because he couldn’t afford genuine accommodation. Many people came to doubt his ability as a skier.  If he didn’t have confidence in himself, he could never have endured all this, and never would have made it to the Olympics; which he did, and became internationally loved as a figurehead and emblem of the Olympic spirit.

When I think about all the great people like Eddie, who achieved greatness through their confidence, I wonder where it came from. I don’t think confidence came naturally to them. It didn’t come naturally to me.

If confidence doesn’t come naturally, where is it from?

When I was a small child, before attending school I remember my friends and I seemed almost limitless in confidence.  We lived fearlessly. Though all our lives were open to us, we never looked forward and worried. We had not collected any regrets.  I remember nobody seemed more confident than anyone else, nobody carried themselves as superior.

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All this changed at school. In school, competition is entrenched. It didn’t matter what we did or studied, whether we studied English, Art, P.E, some naturally stuck out, scored better and were rewarded for it. Our conduct at school even separated us. This in turn seemed to affect self confidence.

I was never a straight-a student. My grades were good but not great. I was never one of the kids rewarded for some high grade or performance, and never had their levels of self esteem.

Confidence for me came later.

In high school, I discovered my passion for technology. I loved writing code (I still do) and each successful program I wrote, each line of effective code was rewarding to me in a way I never felt before. Each time something didn’t work, or when I came across a difficult bug to overcome, I was presented with an exciting challenge. I received no praise in school for it, no accolades, but that didn’t matter. I was doing what I loved, and every time after solving a difficult coding problem, my confidence grew.

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Here I discovered something that changed my entire outlook on confidence and ability.  Self confidence can never be found outside.  It is something that only comes from you.  No matter how much you look, or where you look, no matter how much praise you do or don’t get, you will never find confidence unless it comes from within.

Confidence came from working though difficulties, making myself work on challenging pieces. It didn’t seem to matter if I succeeded or failed (but I’ve long known that even if you fail a hundred times, you will succeed if you are able to keep trying). I only needed to keep pushing myself and confidence grew as a result.

Confidence comes when challenges are overcome

When struggles are overcome, it feels good, and there’s a great deal of satisfaction. From this satisfaction comes confidence.

Perhaps you have an unhealthy lifestyle and losing weight, doing exercises and going on diets are the difficult things for you.  Perhaps, you are shy. Delivering a talk in front of a large audience will then be something difficult to you. Or perhaps you are a perfectionist, then embracing mistakes will be the most difficult thing for you.

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No matter what it might be, you probably felt proud, strong, and sure in your abilities once you overcame that obstacle.  That is the true feeling of confidence earned through effort and experience.

Confidence grows from doubt and criticism

There will be setbacks and disappointments. There will be failures because many breakthroughs require trial and error.  There will be criticisms because everyone is far from perfect at the very beginning.

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain readers. It took me a while to get 100 visitors. This was difficult for me because I had great ambitions for this site, and for a time it seemed doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism.  Some thought that the world didn’t need another advice site, others thought there was something wrong with the idea itself. It was hard for me not to listen to them and agree.

But in the end, I believed in my dream and persisted.  I tweaked the layout, reconsidered how the articles would be structured and written. Made the site more user friendly. The team grew with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people.  With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later we have now influenced millions.

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Pushing out of my comfort zone and getting past the most difficult challenges were the greatest factors in growing my confidence.

Pushing yourself through is tough, I’m not denying that.  They wouldn’t be called “challenges” if it were otherwise. But there is a quote by Churchill that I think about whenever I am faced with new ones, a quote that I feel related to everything I’ve written about above:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going”

Some people avoid challenges.  Perhaps they may have failed at something one too many times, perhaps they’ve been told that they lack something needed to succeed. Instead they rely on stability, coasting through life.  This can be fine for them, but ultimately its restrictive.  They will never grow in confidence, and their fear of failure will become so powerful that will give up before seeing success.

The key to self confidence is to face every challenge head on.  With every challenge you face and overcome, your confidence will grow to face the next.  Welcome the challenges that come, don’t avoid them.  They are all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Featured photo credit: Eddie the Eagle via foxmovies.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 13, 2020

10 Habits To Cultivate To Attract Positivity in Life

10 Habits To Cultivate To Attract Positivity in Life

If you want to attract positivity in life, you have to become that which you seek—positive. Positivity doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Instead, it means that you find the good no matter what. You wake up thinking each morning is a miracle, and you interact with everyone with love and light.

Positivity means having an optimistic attitude. When you have this, you step forward in confidence in anything you do. You see possibilities, not problems. You see opportunities, not obstacles.

Positivity has its benefits, too. According to Mayo Clinic, it largely has to do with stress management, reduction of depression, and increasing life span. You will cope better, be more prone to live healthier, and come out stronger from any situation.[1]

But sometimes, it is easy to find yourself feeling negative if things don’t go your way. Positivity doesn’t downplay the hardships of life. Instead, it helps you build resilience and bring up others around you. When you are positive, you are saying “yes” to life and receiving so much more than you would have otherwise.

Positivity in life starts in your mind. Think positive thoughts, and you will attract positive energy. Breathe in the possibilities and positivity, and breathe out the limitations you perceive you have. Then, you will find yourself a new person.

Here are 10 ways you can attract positivity in your life.

1. Give

Giving makes you happy and healthy, according to the Greater Good Magazine. It is also highly contagious![2] What you give, you get back.

There are many ways you can give. You can support someone, reach out, listen, be kind, choose to show up for something you believe in, care about a cause, make a difference in some way, donate, teach, change a life, give a compliment, lead others, spread awareness, and motivate others to do good.

Giving is about anything that you can do to make someone’s life easier or reduce an ailment experienced by many. By giving in any way, you can find positivity everywhere because you are taking part in creating it. Change the world.

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2. Believe in Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Start to see your good qualities and attributes, even making a list of them.

What about yourself do you want to change? What has improved? If you can see any progress or make goals about yourself, you have the ability to do anything. If you underestimate yourself, you will play small. But if you see the potential in yourself, you will become positive—and others will see it, too.

If you can’t believe it, act as if you do. Stand tall anyway. Good will come to you eventually because you’re ready to receive it.

3. Forgive

Holding onto resentment can be very detrimental to feeling positive. It’s very unhealthy to remain unforgiving. Yet, forgiving does not mean “allowing.” Instead, it means learning to “release.”

You do not hold onto the negative feelings anymore, so you can heal. And you also can forgive yourself for anything in your life that you hold onto. Blaming yourself is a part of being human. Everyone does it and engages in negative self-talk. But if you forgive yourself, you can learn to start over.

Some days, you will be able to forgive yourself and others. Other days, not so much. It can come and go in waves. However, it’s your intention that matters. If you intend to forgive, you may receive healing.

Even if you can’t always muster it, just having the intention is enough. You will feel better afterward. So, if you can’t forgive, remind yourself to just intend it. You may feel forgiving eventually.

4. Gratitude

Some people would do anything to have what you have. Your younger self may be relieved at the point you have gotten yourself into.

Gratitude is a mindset, and it can bring positivity to your life. Make a list of what you have. What around you can you feel appreciation for? Can you recognize the good despite the bad? That can make you stronger.

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When you can set down the burdens and look at the beauty of things, you will have a new mindset—one of positivity. That is something no one can take from you. So, just be here—be present, and be still.

Practice mindfulness. Notice what you normally neglect. Then, things will feel okay again.

5. Let Go of Expectations

What expectations are you holding onto about yourself and your life? Are you living in a “should” mindset? Are you constantly thinking about what you should be doing and where you should be versus appreciating where you are right now?

This does not mean lowering your expectations. It just means letting go of expectations—expecting the best but not needing it to look a certain way. In this, you find freedom from negative thinking and fear-based living.

When you can set yourself free in that way, you can let go and let yourself live. Maybe things don’t always work out. Expect setbacks sometimes. But know that that’s part of learning and growth. Stay open, and positivity will flow through you.

6. Look for the Silver Lining

Is there something good that has come out of a difficult situation? Can you see the stars in the night sky? If you can, reach for them. That light has to do with gratitude and also persistence in seeing the positive in things.

You just have to believe that there is always good in this world. You may not see it right away, but it is there. Look for the silver lining. Instead of thinking, “This negative thing exists in my life.” think, “I am the positive person this situation needs.” Then, you will change it all around. You are the silver lining.

7. Surround Yourself With Positivity

If you’re surrounded with positivity, you too will start to let it seep in and become positive! Positivity in life involves being surrounded by positive people and things.

Is there anything in your life that is holding you back? Maybe it’s a toxic situation or relationship. Maybe it’s your own mental traps where you fall into a rabbit hole of negative thinking. Whatever is spiraling out of control, if you fear you cannot change the situation, it’s time to change yourself.

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Step outside of yourself and your life for a moment. Do you see the possibility of looking outside the box or even destroying the box? If you decide that you will not allow certain things in your life anymore, you will let in the right things. Surround yourself with positivity, and you’ll become the person you are meant to be.

8. Stay Healthy

It’s time to evaluate your daily habits. Are you drinking enough water? Are you eating healthily? Are you getting exercise? What about your mental health? Are you talking to someone about your feelings? Are you doing some sort of cathartic activity to let out negative energy? The list goes on.

Staying healthy starts with taking care of yourself. Self-care shouldn’t be a chore. So, find activities you enjoy doing. In negative situations, do what is called “radical self-care.” This means spending time with yourself doing what you love as much as you can.

Sometimes, you need to separate yourself and find some joy. Instead of spending your time scrolling through social media, go outside and breathe in the fresh air. You never know what can happen once you make a positive choice.

Little things have a ripple effect to turn into big things. All it needs to start is with one action. Face what you can and cannot control, and do what you can because all your choices matter.

If you feel sluggish, eat more veggies and do some cardio. If you feel lonely, make plans with someone. You see, there is always something that you can do to stay healthy.

9. Smile

Smiling activates the amygdala, and that releases neurotransmitters that make you happy![3] This is something that can change your life. You cannot have positivity in life if you can’t even do a simple smile.

Just by smiling, you “trick” your brain into thinking happy thoughts. When you smile at someone else, they are more likely to smile too—also making them happier. Smiling doesn’t just spread positivity, it also makes you more attractive to people and therefore, more social.

It seems like such a small thing because it is, but it has a big effect. You can draw in the right thoughts and the right people just by smiling. Who knew you had such power?

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10. Think Positive

Of course, the way to feel positive is to think positively. Thoughts inform feelings. You have primary emotions or natural reactions to an event. Then, you have secondary emotions that stem from a belief about the event that happened.

For example, if you fail a test, you may think, “This makes me a failure.” But it’s just a setback. True resilience is utilizing positive reframing to tell yourself that you are not defined by what happens to you.

Often, people blame themselves for bad situations. If you had been robbed, would you blame yourself or the other person? The obvious answer is the other person. Yet, you tend to also blame yourself. You may think, “If only I had been smarter or somewhere else, this would have never happened.” This creates a buildup of negative emotion.

Just by releasing the wrong thoughts, you can burst the positive ones. That’s why thought is so important. This is also a practice done in cognitive behavioral therapy.[4]

How realistic are your thoughts about a situation? Is there evidence for your thoughts? What is a new thought or belief that would be more realistic?

By challenging your thoughts, you can become more positive. Once you learn to manage your thought patterns, you can start to see something important: No matter what happens, you have the choice to think positively.

Conclusion

Positivity in life keeps you focused, motivated, and happy. It stops negative thoughts from taking over, and it leads you to be all that you can be.

Maybe now you can give yourself permission to be positive. After all, it’s a choice that is up to you. You decide what you do with this one life. Are you going to live it facing down or looking up at the sky?

More Tips to Maintain Positivity in Life

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
[2] Greater Good Magazine: 5 Ways Giving Is Good for You
[3] Ladders: The science behind why smiling can literally make you happier
[4] Psychology Today: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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