A famous comedian relates this anecdote about his start in show business. He had a minor role in a biblical stage play with a short speaking part to be delivered as he assisted a high-ranking Roman soldier.
The dialogue was pretty straightforward. The Roman soldier was to ask him, “Is my sword ready?” and he was to answer, “It is.” He rehearsed his two-worded line endlessly. The theater was full on opening night, which made him quite nervous.
Finally, his one shining moment came.
Roman soldier: “Is my sword ready?”
His loud, excited reply: “Is it?”
And that was the end of his stage career.
Words, even when monosyllabic, carry meaning, and the subtlest of adjustments can totally flip the table (or the script). More importantly, words have manifesting power. If you find yourself short on confidence, check to see if these words form part of your regular dialogue.
“I might take the college entrance test.”
“I might fail.”
“I might just forget about college.”
Might is an ambivalent word that shows a lack of intention and direction. Using might on your weekly planning, daily to-do lists, or in response to others’ requests could result in tasks left undone. That’s precisely because in your thoughts and speech, you don’t appear to care either way. Eliminate this word from your vocabulary. Go for a YES or NO. If you are not sure about whether or not to do a task, think “maybe” but give it a deadline and convert soon to a YES or NO. It’s not about saying yes all the time; it’s about making a decision either way. You move from not confident to decisive.
“It won’t work.”
“I won’t be able to do that.”
Won’t is a defeatist word that assumes failure in a race even before the first step is taken. People who think and say this word often base their negative thinking on a couple of past experiences. When you conclude in your mind that a process, a project, or you will fail, that is exactly what will happen. Open your belief to the real probability of success with, “That could work” or, “Yes, I think I can do that.” As you become more optimistic, good results will start happening to move you from not confident to positive thinker.
“This is usually the way we do it.”
“I usually work better solo.”
Usually is a status quo-type of word that accepts things as they are. Things are just that way, end of story. It’s a word that closes the door to finding newer, better ways of doing things. It’s sometimes used to justify laziness. Instead, think of alternatives, options, and new things. Be willing to think and say “We can try another way” or “I will take a chance working with this team,” and get ready to be surprised by your adaptability and other new discoveries. As new things become usual to you, your experience and expertise grows. And so does your confidence.
“I suspect there will be a company takeover.”
“I suspect there is a catch to their proposal offer.”
Unlike the previous words, which mostly affects the speaker, suspect brings a shadow of suspicion on another person’s motive and sows intrigue and fear in others. Verbalizing your negative thinking contaminates those around you. It causes low morale and an air of distrust that affects relationships and productivity. Drop suspect altogether from your thoughts and speech. Stop judging, accept news and gestures at face value, and improve your interpersonal skills.
“That’s impossible; it has never been done.”
“It’s impossible for me to work with [fill in person, task, or department].”
Impossible combines the defeatism of won’t and the status quo of usually to firmly lock the door to new successes. The danger of impossible is in the passion you use when you say the word, often with a raised voice and a strong hand gesture. The stronger the feeling that is attached to a word, the surer and sooner it will manifest. As you continue to use impossible in your thoughts and words, you will notice less positive things happening in your life. From not confident, you could drop to outright fearful. Throw out impossible from your vocabulary. Shift to “not possible” and then to “could be possible” and finally to “Yes, it can be done!”
“I’m worried about my presentation.”
“I’m worried the client will not be satisfied.”
Worried is the reason people are not confident. Being worried comes from imagining a bad or worst case scenario. Its two components are (1) thinking ahead and (2) fearing a negative outcome. When you find yourself thinking ahead to the day of your presentation or project submission, summon a positive image of a supportive audience and an impressed client. Smile, hear the audience applauding, and feel the firm handshake of your happy client. If you are unable to imagine a positive image, then focus only on the present moment as you complete the project and prepare for the presentation. Pediatricians chat up children to talk about something interesting and then swiftly deliver the shot. They know it’s the fear of the needle—not the actual shot—that makes the process worrisome.
“I’m confused about my team leader’s work expectations.”
“I’m confused if he wants to seriously continue this relationship.”
Sometimes, a confusing situation is to be blamed for the ambivalence of might and the defeatist attitude of won’t. If you don’t know what your work objective is, you won’t be able to take steps to get there. If you don’t know how you stand in a relationship, you won’t know how committed you can be. Among the words people who are not confident use, confused is the simplest to get rid of. Get yourself out of the confusion to a place of clear understanding by speaking to your team leader or your significant other. Ask clear, direct questions. Explain you want to understand their expectations so you can act accordingly, from not confident to sure of yourself.
“I need to buy expensive suits before I go to any job interview.”
“I need to be sure there is no risk of getting turned down before I ask her out.”
Need acts like a stalling tactic and a justification for failing. It’s also a dream stopper. It’s you setting up conditions—which are often unnecessary—for you to succeed. Many people say this common dialogue that applies to any dream.
“I want to write a book but …”
“I need to finish sending all my children to college first.”
“I need to keep working to save up.”
“I need to find time to focus.”
“I need to take some writing courses.”
“I need to gather more writing experience.”
If they end up not living the dream, they give the above reasons for their so-called failure, which is actually a non-start. It’s better to try and fail, than to fail to try. The experience of engaging in an action or a relationship is far more important than the result. When you are not too attached to the results, you actually don’t need much to start.
“I’m in quandary about staying with the company or going freelance.”
“It’s a big quandary for me—take the overseas job offer or stay and nurture this promising relationship.”
Being in a quandary, unlike being confused, means you know the consequences of each choice, but you are uncertain of how much impact it will have down the road. You’re unsure if you’re ready to give up one thing for something else. It takes time, research, and lots of contemplation to get out of a quandary. Give yourself time to weigh things, but do not stay in quandary for longer than necessary, so you don’t get stuck. Don’t rush your decision either. When you do arrive at a decision, move forward and don’t look back.
“I will likely meet the deadline.”
“The client will likely disagree with our proposal.”
Likely is very similar to the ambivalent might but has a higher probability of happening, positively or negatively. It still is not certain. Likely comes across as uncommitted and shows a lack of effort or motivation to make it a sure thing. To change likely to a definite YES, find out what it is about the project or the proposal that is giving you doubts and address them one by one. Like might, this is about removing those doubts and making a definite decision, either way. Go from almost confident to assuredly so.
All these words have an air of uncertainty and negativity that feeds on such feelings and creates a cycle of negative beliefs and negative outcomes. End the cycle with naturally gained self confidence. Be clear about what YOU want. You don’t want anything bad happening, so that’s where you start. Visualize a positive experience and outcome and then take steps to produce that. In such a scenario, not-confident will have absolutely NO part.
Featured photo credit: Peter via flickr.com