What you sow you reap is a time-honoured truism. If you plant an acorn in moist, fertile soil, it will grow into a mighty oak. It can’t help it, it’s genetically programmed that way.
Similarly, no matter what has gone before, if you plant the seeds of confidence in your consciousness through your intentions, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, imaginings, actions and words, and keep them well nourished, confidence will grow.
You’ll notice I said no matter what has gone before. Certainly you have been influenced by past events and circumstances, but they do not tell the whole story. The seeds – or causes – that have blossomed into the person you are include:
- Your genetic inheritance and biochemistry (hormones etc). Scientists tell us that these account for around 25-35% of your character.
- The environment in which you were raised, including people.
- Your unique way of trying to make sense of it all, both at the time and now.
Obviously you cannot change your genes, and you cannot change your biochemistry without resorting to drastic, potentially dangerous measures (drugs etc). But if greater confidence is your aim, there’s no need. Because although your genetic inheritance is known to play a role in determining how outgoing you are, whether you are volatile or placid, and your predisposition for certain mental health problems (such as stress, depression, addictions and compulsive behaviours), no causal link has ever been found between genes and confidence.
Confidence (or lack of it) is learned, mostly in the first few years of childhood. It began to take shape when you were weak and vulnerable, after which it became self-reinforcing. And anything which has been learned can be reappraised and replaced with new, superior learning.
Yesterday is but a dream And tomorrow only a vision But today well lived makes Every yesterday a dream of happiness And every tomorrow a vision of hope Look well therefore to this day.
Promise yourself that from now on you’ll sow only ‘seeds’ – positive thoughts, fantasies and mental images, words and actions – that boost your confidence, improve your relationships and make you feel good about yourself.
List some of the factors in your life – including past events, people and situations – which have affected your confidence. In what way did they affect you?
Now, without making any judgements, consider how your attitudes and beliefs, fantasies, communication style and actions have created your life. Write down anything that seems relevant.
Do you consider yourself predominantly an introvert or an extrovert? In other words, do you enjoy your own company and easily get drawn into your own inner world? Or do you get most of your energy and inspiration from the company of others?
You can be confident either way, and you certainly don’t have to be loud and gregarious. Being quietly confident is just as rewarding.
Commit yourself to doing whatever it takes to become more confident. I know many who enjoy discussing the reasons for their lack of confidence, but do nothing about it. Don’t be one of them.
Write these words on a sticky label or small card and place it where you will see it first thing each day:
‘I greet every new day with a firm commitment to raising my confidence. I will do whatever is required to become more confident.’
Whenever you see these words, smile and repeat them to yourself, with conviction, silently or aloud, at least ten times. Say them as if you really mean it.
Think of one thing you would like to do that makes you nervous – nothing too demanding at this stage. Tell yourself over and over again, ‘I am enjoying (doing whatever it is). I know I can do it, and I will.’
Make yourself very comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and allow your imagination to flow freely. Imagine that you have loads of confidence and are actually doing whatever it is that makes you nervous.
After a few minutes, open your eyes. Write down anything that comes to mind in your notebook.
Now, if practical, go ahead and do what you imagined in the last exercise. Don’t be put off by any uncomfortable feelings that arise.
You’ve just put the I-T-I-A Formula© into practice for the very first time. How do you feel?
‘What would my mother say?’
At 52 years of age George Stratford was sleeping rough on a park bench, jobless, penniless and feeling too old to make a new life. Then one morning he woke with a start, haunted by the thought, ‘What would my mother say if she could see this bum I’ve turned into?’
It made him think. He stopped feeling sorry for himself and became determined to sort himself out. He thought of the novel he had started several years earlier and never completed, and affirmed his intention to finish it and get it published.
His imagination wandered to his dream of becoming a novelist. How wonderful it would be to be a famous author!
Then he took action. He enrolled at a local college to study English, and the following year won a place on an advertising course after submitting the first two chapters of his novel. Then he spent the last of his savings on the train fare to London to take up a work experience placement at a top advertising agency, and despite sleeping rough at this time, was taken on by them on a permanent basis. Simultaneously he wrote a minimum of 1,000 words a day until his novel was finished.
The culmination of George’s efforts was the launch of his novel, In The Long Run, at a star-studded reception in London. Set against the backdrop of the Comrades’ Marathon in South Africa, one of the world’s most arduous races, it explores the themes of confidence, courage and determination – qualities which the author demonstrates in abundance!