Do you lie to other people? Do you make promises to yourself, and others, and constantly break them? Do you fail and fall short of the things you say you want to do, and passively make excuses to let yourself off the hook?
If you stood on a bridge, you would say that you are confident in it if you knew that you could rely on it to safely hold you up without buckling. In other words, you trust the integrity of the bridge.
The same goes for our confidence in ourselves. When we implicitly feel that we can relyon ourselves (and others can too) to handle the pressure of a load, we feel confident.
And finally, self-respect also comes from the ability to perform and be effective.
Do you lack the experience and skills to do basic things in life – like exercise, make friends, get the job you want, or get uncomfortable? Are you afraid of discomfort and pain? Do you choose to avoid it and seek familiar comforts, or do you lean into discomfort and face into the fires of life?
Ability and skill are major pillars of our sense of worth and capacity. When we haven’t been advancing or developing our skills, and feel unable to do basic things like socialize and take care of ourselves, we might begin to feel ineffectual or useless, which can cripple our sense of confidence.
The (Difficult) Way To Rebuild
Despite all of these blocks, gaining true, authentic confidence is very attainable. But there is tough news and good news.
The tough news: There are no short cuts, and this is not an easy process. There is nothing you will read and automatically gain confidence from. It will require hard inner and outer work.
The good news: Although it’s tough, there is a clear path for you to take. It will have its ups and downs, but because of the effort you put in, and the results it brings, it will be the most fulfilling journey you ever undertake.
Here are the four highest-leverage core paths to build confidence in your life starting today.
1. Find your North Star and pursue it relentlessly
When you find your guiding purpose and mission in life – or North Star – almost nothing can ever knock you off centre. That is because you’re connected to a reason for existing that transcends all external possessions and relationships. Eventually, you will build confidence.
Of course, you will need things and people to help you achieve your mission. But I just mean that your deepest sense of worth and direction won’t be ultimately based in material things, or dependent on other people’s approval or validation.
What we’re talking about here is a deep confidence that arises from a permanent transformation of the soul – or your essential psychic self – which cannot be stripped away by any material loss or misfortune.
With a North Star, you’re a man standing on his own two feet in the world, and you know where you’re going. It’s much harder to be distracted and detoured by meaningless work and unhealthy relationships.
Finding this takes a lot of reflection and experimentation. However, many people find a few valuable signposts when they try the thought experiment of winning the lottery.
Imagine going for a walk right now and finding a lotto ticket on the sidewalk worth 500 million dollars.
For the next year, with absolutely no limitations, you can go travel the world, buy a helicopter, drink 200-year old wine at the top of a castle at sunset, sleep with whoever you want, and have all the material experiences you could ever want to have.
At the end of that year, the question is: Now what?
Since money is no object, and you’ve got all your worldly desires out of the way, how would you spend the rest of your days?
This is where you can start to more clearly see what you ultimately care about, and what your heart really wants to do with your limited time on this planet.
As you go, what you actually end up doing over the years might look different, or you may also be committed to several different things over your lifetime. But this exercise can help crystallize the deepest values that will underpin all of those missions and projects.