Coming from a person who grew up with low self confidence, I have grown into a person that learned how to be confident and will share with you what I learned along the way in a series of posts, self-confidence series. I think this topic takes much more than one post to cover all the bases, so I hope you enjoy what I have to share with you as I reveal my phases of gaining self confidence in myself and my abilities and how you could apply this to your life to be more confident.
Growing up, I was the oldest of five kids and being the oldest usually comes with making lots of mistakes. My family was a first generation Vietnamese family that came to the United States so I grew up with a very small family and didn’t have the vast network of older family members to guide me. I learned everything on my own and made lots of mistakes. I am also a very independent person so I tend to listen to myself when it comes to direction, and sometimes this could lead to some bad decisions. My mother and father were usually off working to support me and my brothers, so I was left alone many times to learn things on my own. My mother had me at a young age and because I was her first, didn’t have the experience in raising a son so I was the blueprint for the other siblings that came after me.
I grew up with such a bad self confidence problem and to top that off, I had a very bad stuttering problem that made it even worse. I was also different in social situations because I was usually the only asian kid in my class, neighborhood, and this continued on as I went off to the Air Force and professional career. Now one of the main factors that caused me to have self confidence was the fact that I made many mistakes as I was growing up, yet making these mistakes is the main reason for my self discovery and foundation of my self confidence that I have today.
When I made mistakes and wrong choices, I would hear comments from others usually telling me things such as, I will never do well in school, I would never be able to anything well and so on and so forth. The problem that I have found was that I began listening to these people’s comments and I would have the small talk in my mind before doing anything. I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to complete college, be good at public speaking, socialize with people and the list goes on. The interesting thing now is that, I graduated top of my class with Magna Cum Laude distinction, can give a public speech without any problems and can socialize with people in any situation. My chosen profession is is sales where I have to approach people I don’t know, build a relationship and sell them products. You would never guess a person with low self confidence would ever be able to do this as their career, but I have done it successfully year over year.
So how did a stuttering asian kid, with a severe self confidence problem, break out of his shell and overcame the “small negative talk” within my own mind to come out the other side the total opposite of what many have thought I would turn out as well as myself? Well, it did take years of proving to myself that I am capable and to not listen to the negativity that others give, and learn from my own experiences and proved to myself that I am capable of anything.
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS & ENERGY
We all have a degree of negative thoughts that crosses our mind when we set out to do something, what I have learned is that I have to control this negativity that held me back from going for what I want. I also learned that I don’t have to believe what others say about me, and choose to listen to myself as well as the positive feedback I get from others versus only listening to the negative comments. I have developed myself now to where negative thoughts do cross my mind, but my positive thoughts overpower them. What I do in situations where I catch myself over-thinking a situation and only focusing on the possible negative reactions of outcomes, I realize that I am ignoring looking at the opportunities to shine and do well. For example, lets say I have a speech I have to give in front of 100 people, and public speaking is a very scary activity and I believe it is one of the most feared things any human could possibly do. My old low self confidence side will start making a movie in my mind of all the possible mistakes I could make, I start to doubt myself and think “what if my stuttering comes back”, or I say the wrong things, forget my speech and so on and so forth. Versus, thinking about how much I have prepared for this speech and that I have something important to say and no matter what happens, I will give it my best! If I only focus on what might go wrong, my positive energy is drained and filled with negativity. Confidence comes from controlling what your thoughts in your mind and to change the channel from negativity to positive thoughts. This doesn’t mean that I am mistake free anymore, but I don’t let mistakes stop me from giving it my all because the way I look at mistakes are lessons to make myself a stronger person.
Even though I had negative thoughts in my mind, I had the determination to go forth head on to tackle my challenges. I would meet my fears head on and in doing so, I learned over time that I am capable of doing anything. Now my first time doing something, I must admit I sucked, but as time progressed and I learned, improved and took the mistakes along the way to correct, I was able to build confidence in areas that I had problems with. A great example I have was my first attempt at public speaking. This is quite embarrassing, I was in front of my peers and over 300 people and as I was standing in front of everyone, I probably experienced the worse experience any person who fears public speaking could possibly do. I FROZE… my neck tensed, I could hear myself breathing, my palms got sweaty and I simply FROZE….the only words that came out of my mouth was… “I cannot do this” as I walked off the stage and walked my walk of shame. Did I give up? Heck no, I mean I just witnessed the worst I could possibly experience, yet I am o.k. I took that experience and learned from it and started learning how to give public speeches, read about how to be a great speaker, talked to others that I have witnessed give a good speech and ask them what they do. Most of the greatest speakers I have heard all tell me that they also had a huge fear of speaking and made numerous mistakes along the way. I learned that I had to practice, practice and practice. I also volunteered to give talks whenever I could. I learned to accept my breathing and hearing my own voice, it didn’t bother me anymore and as time progressed, I receive comments from people telling me that they wished that they were as confident as me when they give a speech, and in my mind I simply say, “if only they knew”, but I give them words of encouragement because I thought the same thing before. It takes the guts to be brave enough to make mistakes and to learn. Be brave enough to not listen to the negative thoughts and to focus on what you are doing and the positive side of things. If you are not brave, you will be in the same situation you have always been in. Life is exciting when you are able to push yourself to learn and progress. Do I still get nervous before giving a speech, somewhat but I am filled more with positive thoughts and being through about over 100 public speeches after that first horrible, one, I can say I can give a speech in front of any sized crowd.
The psychology of self confidence has to do with positive thinking and to strengthen the positive thoughts you have, you must be brave enough to give yourself successful experiences to pull from. Yes, you will make mistakes along the way, but be positive about making them and learn. If you focus on the negativity, then that is what you usually get. Condition yourself to be used to awkward situations and prove to yourself that you can do anything better each time. As time passes you will progress into a person with much higher confidence that cannot be shaken because you have the solid positive learning experiences that shaped your confidence and your foundation. Don’t let fear hold you back for what you want, listen to your spirit and heart and go forth. You WILL MAKE MISTAKES, accept that and choose to learn from them versus beating yourself up. Also, if people only give you negative comments that is not constructive, avoid these toxic energy sucking vampires and listen to the people who support you and give you comments that helps make you better. It is easy for anyone say, “you suck” but it takes you to decide if you want to believe them. Be brave, learn and grow.
NEXT PART OF THE CONFIDENCE SERIES: LEARN HOW TO TALK TO ANYONE.