Would you like to be confident in the things you do? Most people would. The problem is that many people aren't sure how. They think confidence is some mystical trait that some people are born with and others aren't. Actually, being confident in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals is a skill that can be learned.

Imagine that you have been thinking about making a change in your life for quite some time now. But it seems that something always stopped you from taking action. Now the time seems right and you are ready to take those first steps to make your dream a reality. Congratulations for reaching this point! Along the way, you will certainly experience many victories. Yet there will also be challenges. To keep yourself going, you are going to need lots of support from one very important person: You! You need to feel confident that you can have the success you want.

While there is no one set definition for confidence, on the whole it means being able to trust yourself. This means that when you set a goal for yourself, you trust yourself to make a plan, take charge of your actions, evaluate your actions, appreciate your efforts and successes, provide supportive self-talk, and do whatever you can to prove to yourself that you can indeed influence outcomes.

One way to strengthen your confidence is to appreciate your efforts and successes along each step of the way. To balance the scale of triumphs and challenges, you need to recognize and feel good about all the small steps you take each day, and the efforts you put forth toward achieving your goal. Building on every little victory acts like fuel to your confidence.

Why Appreciating Effort is Critical
For many, the journey toward reaching the overall goal is often a long road. It is frequently so full of experiences, challenges, obstacles, that we often don't notice the gradual change that is occurring. We don't recognize the progress we have made. If you have not taken the time to appreciate your efforts and to write down each little success, your next obstacle may just stop you in your tracks. You will loose motivation and give up. This happens not because the obstacle is bigger than you are, but because you start to believe that you can't effect change in your world. Without any proof of the positive steps you have already taken, you falsely believe yourself to be helpless or hopeless to get past your sticking point. Why bother continuing forward if it is not going to make a difference anyhow?

The Harm of Dismissing Success
One sure fire way of killing your own confidence is to dismiss your success. Imagine that you are in the habit of using food to soothe your emotions and feel better. You make a plan to stop your emotional eating and begin to take action. Through much effort and determination, you manage to deal with your emotions in new, self-supporting ways. For three entire days, you use alternate strategies to bring yourself back into a state of emotional balance. However, on that fourth day, you end up reverting to your old habits of eating to numb out and eating to feel better. What are you most likely to do with this situation?

- Do you dismiss those three days as proof that since they did not last, you are not good enough to have what you want - and now you fall into feeling helplessness or hopelessness?

- Do you use those three days and the subsequent relapse as an occasion to self-condemn and shame yourself? How stupid of you for trying. Better not to have tried at all then to have tried and failed?

-Do you use your three days of success to boost your confidence? If you can make it three days on your new plan, then you can make it three and half days next time. Do you use the relapse to evaluate what happened and adjust your plan?

When Do You Get to Feel Successful?
One day, I decided I wanted to increase the amount of water I was drinking each day. I thought things through and concluded that the best way to achieve success would be to drink one bottle of water each morning as I was in the bathroom preparing for my day. After a few weeks had gone by, I pondered my goal. I realized that almost every morning I had drank one full bottle of water. Had achieved success with my goal? How long must I drink a daily morning bottle of water before I could call myself successful?

Contemplating, I became aware of my own particularly nasty pattern. I had a habit of setting goals, making them happen, but never acknowledging success along the way. Like many people, I had no mental criteria established for when I could call myself successful. There was no endpoint of, "How do I know I've achieved my goal." Since there was no endpoint, I didn't feel good during the many efforts and achievements along the way, and I certainly didn't feel good at the end of the goal. I was running my own life story of not being good enough for myself, and having to earn my own love but never succeeding.

I sat there amazed at my own self-realization. I asked, "How long must I maintain a behavior before I can call myself successful?" The answer came immediately: "The very first time the behavior is achieved, you are successful." Wow! This about blew me away. I successfully achieved my goal the first day I followed through with my intention. No wonder I never felt full or 'enough'. I was completely failing to recognize, acknowledge, or celebrate my strengths, efforts, and my achievements.

Many of the people I work with also have no internal criteria established for knowing when they are successful. They say when they lose 40 pounds, then they will be successful and confident. Or, when they stop binge eating, then they will be happy. But what happens when they lose those forty pounds or stop binging for several days? Their success does not count as a solid success. Eventually a few pounds creep back on or a relapse in binge behavior occurs. Not surprisingly, this gets acknowledged! Suddenly there is lots of negative self-talk, huge emotion, and beastly feelings of self-reproach. Now there is evidence that success can not be achieved.

How to Build Confidence
Close your eyes and relax. Think of a success you had today. Maybe it was feeling good, or deciding to drive past the fast food restaurant, or choosing to imagine yourself having positive outcomes, or laughing instead of feeling heavy. Maybe you overcame an urge to go back to an old habit, and even though later you did not overcome the urge, that first "overcoming" was a success. You cannot change the fact of it or deny that it was a success.

Remember your goal. Recall your successes of the day. Remember your efforts. Get in touch with your physical body. Breathe in ... breathe out. Acknowledge your successes over and over again in your mind. Say to yourself, "I was truly successful. There is no denying that." Imagine the lightness of your joy spreading all around, filling your body. It is filling your heart, spreading to your abdominal cavity reaching towards your thighs, legs, and feet. It also goes up and out, through your trunk, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, face, and head. Your whole body is filled with radiant blissful lightness. You are calm and centered and feeling really good. You like this feelings. Build your confidence by looking for more successes. Bring your goal life and light through praise, intention, and enthusiasm. Strengthen your goal by feeding it love. Breathe in . . . breathe out.

As you continue to move forward in your life, recognize and applaud your efforts. As Jack Welch once said: "Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It lets you take greater risks and achieve far more than you ever thought possible" (Capitalism Magazine, 2002). Follow the confidence steps above and start feeling good about your self and your life.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Annette Colby, RD can help you take the pain out of life, turn difficult emotions into joy, release stress, end emotional eating, and move beyond depression into an extraordinary life! Annette is the author of Your Highest Potential and has the unique ability to show you how to spark an amazing relationship with your life! Visit www.LovingMiracles.com
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