How can I feel more confident?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions and one of the most sought-after feelings of athletes: “I want to feel more confident”.

You don’t want to “think” you can handle the situation in front of you – you want to KNOW you can. You want to believe in yourself, believe in your ability, and rise up to the challenges that come with training and competition. You want to know you have what it takes to handle whatever comes your way.

When it comes to this topic of confidence people often ask – is it the chicken or the egg: do I need to feel confident in order to perform well or do I need to perform well in order to feel confident? The answer is both.

In part one of this post I talked about the concept of self-efficacy, which is your situation specific feelings of confidence. It’s the confidence you feel in a given moment versus your overall feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. Now in Part 2 I’m going to give you the top three influencers of self-efficacy and share some specific ways to work on building your confidence.

Here are the top three sources of self-efficacy that can boost your confidence and belief in yourself:

  1. Performance Accomplishments

The number one influencer over your feelings of self-efficacy are past performance accomplishments. When you have successfully accomplished a task in the past you’re more likely to feel confident about your ability to accomplish that same task in the future. Even if you haven’t accomplished that specific task in the past, remembering other times you were successful with similar achievements can help.

Ways to increase confidence through performance accomplishments:

  • Visualize past successes: Close your eyes, take a breath, and visualize one of your best performances. Take note of how you feel when you re-live that performance highlight.
  • Set short-term goals: Small successes boost your belief in yourself. Create momentum by setting and achieving short-term goals.
  1. Vicarious experiences

Before Roger Bannister in 1954, no one believed it was possible to break the four-minute mile. At that time, it was actually a widely held belief that it was physically impossible for the human body to achieve that feat. But once he did it, he blew the doors wide open for everybody else. When you see someone else successfully accomplish a task, you’re more likely to believe in your own ability to do the same.

Ways to increase confidence through vicarious experiences:

  • Rise to the occasion: Workout and train with people that are better than you. You’ll see what’s possible and push yourself to rise to their level.
  • Watch video: Seeing other people accomplishing inspirational feats can hike up your own excitement to tackle on your own new and bigger challenges.
  1. Verbal Persuasion

Sometimes what you need is a pat on the back, a little “Atta a boy! You can do this!” Having someone else verbalize their belief in you can help you believe in yourself. Verbal persuasion can refer to your own internal dialogue as well.

Ways to increase confidence through verbal persuasion:

  • Ask for feedback: Be proactive about getting feedback. Be ready to take the constructive, (which will ultimately make you better), but be sure to take in the positive too.
  • Be a hall monitor: Stop any thoughts heading down the halls of your neural pathways and check to see if they have a hall pass. Commitment to feeding yourself thoughts that feed your confidence versus feeding your doubt.

Now think about your situation and choose one of these options to deliberately work on increasing your feelings of self-efficacy. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but confidence isn’t just something you ARE, it’s something you DO. 

Read more blog posts on building confidence 

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