Gain greater confidence in taking action

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.

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Think about this statement which could be about our belief and confidence in our capabilities. Do you believe that you can achieve more than you think or quite the opposite? 

Clients often come to me and ask how they can have more confidence. The conversation usually begins with how anxious they feel about doing something. This might be going to a party or the gym. Or it might be a big life-changing event like changing career or ending a relationship. I might ask what is stopping that person from doing what they want. The answer is always fear; they are afraid of rejection, things going wrong, or regretting a decision.  


How to have more confidence

The way to have more confidence is to take action and do what frightens you. 

There is no magic wand or psychological tool that will take away fear and anxiety. When we embark on a new career, relationship, or hobby we cannot possibly know the outcome or how we will feel. Our brain likes to predict and that is what we might try to do. We imagine how we might feel when we take action.  We can’t possibly 100% know. 

I’ve always felt anxiety and fear when doing things that feel unfamiliar or brand new. When I was a teenager, I would prefer to hide away than talk to new people. Being in my own company was far easier than facing any social situation. We now term this ‘social anxiety’ but at the time I had no idea what was ‘wrong’ with me. I would sweat, shake, and go red with embarrassment and stress when faced with anything new. Now of course I realise that I was and still am to some extent, an anxious person.

How did I become more confident? I allowed myself to feel afraid knowing that the feeling wouldn’t kill me and I did the scary things anyway. I travelled the world, climbed mountains, swam in the sea in Australia, and set up my business. Yes, I felt petrified every day. Did I let this stop me? No way! 

The only way to build confidence is to take action. We cannot sit alone in our room and say, “I wish I had the confidence to meet people or start a business.” and then expect ourselves to mysteriously one day be able to do these things. It all starts with baby steps. 

For example, I would like to one day write a novel. I don’t call myself a writer even though I write every day. However, I write therefore I am a writer. I have to practice every day at writing to increase my confidence. Do I have imposter syndrome? Of course! But that novel won’t be written unless I practice and try. In the practice and trying I am improving my skill and competence. This improvement will give me more confidence in writing and therefore I write more... can you see a cycle here?The competence that I gain will bring self-belief in my capabilities. The pattern here is: action brings a feeling of competence and self-belief which increases confidence. 

My 15-year-old son appears to be fearless. He will tackle anything new. If he fails at something he gets up and tries again. On a car trip recently I asked him if her ever felt fear and anxiety. I applauded his answer, “Not really. I just keep trying. If I feel afraid I do it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen?” His confidence and self-belief in his capabilities astound me. Somewhere along the way in his 15 years, he has learned to keep going, and not allow failure to bring him down since failing means that he can only improve.

We know that when we embark on new life changes or adventures we are going to feel anxious and afraid. These fears are natural. We can plan for anything that might go wrong therefore the fears act to protect us. However, if we allow fear and anxiety to get the better of us and stop us from doing things then we will never gain confidence in our capabilities. 

The growth is in the trying, failing and eventually the succeeding. Confidence comes through taking action.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23
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Written by Samantha Flanagan, Anxiety Therapist (PGDIP, Registered member of BACP)
High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23

I am a member of BACP with a level 7, PGdip in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. I am qualified to work with many issues which include but are not limited to: emotional abuse, relationships, trauma, anxiety, substance mis-use, developmental trauma, and attachment issues.

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