The other day I was watching a reality show featuring a dozen Celebrities undergoing a standard SAS-Training-Course; extremely tough physically and emotionally. It was interesting that those tough and experienced Instructors weren’t saying -for example- that you should be without fear to be a successful soldier.
No, they admitted they had been fearful at times, but it was how you dealt with that emotion that made the difference between a successful operation and a failure (and possible death): they simply carried on.The same goes for confidence: it’s not that you fail at times, it’s how you deal with that.
I’m frequently surprised how many people have a problem with confidence, even very successful ones. For example, there was one competitor on the training course who had won several Olympic medals and a number of championships, but she still had that nagging self-doubt.
The same goes for other feelings, such as not being ‘perfect’ enough, or intelligent enough, or attractive enough, etc. Nothing anyone else says is able to convince us of the opposite. Often we over-compensate and try harder and harder to be successful, or loved, or always number one, but still feel worthless inside.
Recently I watched a Buddhist monk give a lecture and he mentioned he had suffered from anxiety. After a while he thought: ‘make friends with anxiety’, i.e. accept it, rather than running away from it as we so often try (this is how Phobias develop).
The problem is that we ourselves carry these dysfunctional subconscious beliefs within us and until we confront those we’ll always be chasing that ever elusive confirmation of our desire to be perfect and/or accepted. We need to change these dysfunctional beliefs before we find inner peace…
Things are similar with failure. When we fail it often confirms our worst fears: ‘see I knew I wasn’t smart enough, able enough, well-liked enough’, etc. This easily leads to complete avoidance of tasks or procrastination.
What to do? Fail deliberately! Accept it and -more importantly- know that you haven’t disintegrated; you just felt terrible about it. Of course I’m talking about ordinary situations. I wouldn’t advise it if you’re a Brain Surgeon, or Pilot…
Take public speaking for example. This terrifies many people…Just go up there and do it. Yes, perhaps you stammer a bit, or forget your lines, but if you get through it you’ve won half the battle. You may feel like a terrible failure initially , but this is not always other people’s perception. You may find that they secretly admire you. Next time you will likely be a little more confident and you’ll be able to fail better.
A similar approach works for Phobias. I once worked with a lady who was terrified of needles. She wanted to be treated for severe pain but couldn’t cope with receiving an injection. Initially she couldn’t even look at a drawing of a syringe without panicking…
Gradually we presented her with photos of syringes, then the real thing (without the needle), then real needles, etc. Gradually she found herself more confident in seeing -and even touching- genuine syringes and eventually she coped with receiving treatment. Imagine what that did for her self-confidence.
I have had to overcome my own failure-experiences (or, I should say, perceptions). Being on the Partnership to Success Training Course I’ve come across a number of challenges. At times they made me feel incompetent, with the usual unhelpful self-statements, such as “I can’t even get that bit right”.
But the more I failed, the more I learned and that in itself is its own reward. I also found out that I’ve become a bit of a (relative) specialist when I told a friend about my Internet activities and what was involved. When I started mentioning terms such as ‘Hosting accounts, Opt-in Forms, Auto-responders or Plug-ins I soon ‘lost him’ as he said.
So go on start ‘failing’ and soon you’ll never look back again…