This article is an excerpt from The Top 10 Traits of Highly Resilient People: Real Life Stories of Resilience Show You How to Build a Stress Resistant Personality, published with permission from the publisher.
Top Resilience Trait #6 : Confidence
The word confidence comes from the Latin word fidere’, which means to trust. Confidere literally translates as ‘with trust’; therefore having self-confidence means you have trust in yourself.
Those who are confident have trust in their ability to emerge intact from life’s challenges, which gives them a sense of self-assurance, grounding and inner calm. Confident people show up more authentically, are self-reliant and more likely to keep going when others might give up. As a result, their confidence often acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy as they succeed in areas where less confident people fail as a result of giving up sooner.
Like every resilience trait, confidence is not an innate or fixed characteristic. It can be cultivated by anyone and improved upon over time. Confidence is all about believing in yourself, so the starting point is to start believing you can build confidence, no matter what evidence you feel you have to the contrary!
When building confidence, it can be helpful to address anxiety first, as this is often the dominant emotion that arises in any situation where you currently lack confidence. Resilient people do not suddenly become fearless or immune to nervousness or anxiety. They learn how to manage themselves better when these feelings arise, so that they stay calm in challenging circumstances and develop greater trust in themselves.
Anxiety and worry arise from the part of our nervous system that wants to keep us safe, which means that they are often accompanied by physiological symptoms such as shakiness, upset stomach, insomnia and low mood. Add to this chaotic thinking and unhealthy compensation methods and it is easy to see how this can drain your sense of self-trust and confidence.
Learning how to create calm for yourself addresses the physiological responses in your system so that you can breathe more fully, think more clearly and open your mind up to receive new insights. Studies show that regular practice of meditation, whether focusing on the breath, a mantra or an object of visualization can help dissipate anxious energy.
This physiological shift increases your ability to problem-solve effectively, giving you a stronger sense of security and belief in your own capabilities. In addition to this, developing the skill of focused concentration can help you block out habitual negative self-talk, restoring harmony to your body and brain.
The more adept you become at managing your state, the easier it becomes to start imagining yourself handling challenging situations in a more positive way. The practice of regularly visualizing yourself acting with more confidence in specific settings, is a valuable tool to adopt when it comes to building your confidence. It may seem like make-believe, but neuroscientists have proven through brain-imaging studies that subconscious pathways in your brain activate when you visualize specific outcomes. This means you can retrain your brain to believe you are more confident and you can open your mind to new positive possibilities.
Building confidence is yet another self-fulfilling prophecy, as the more you prove to yourself that you can handle new situations, the more confident in yourself you become. Understanding that feelings of anxiety are physiological responses very similar to excitement also means that you can train yourself to reframe the feelings, so that when they arise, you can let go of the automatic anxiety that drains you and instead tell yourself you feel excited.
To increase your ability to trust in yourself, you can access several of my free guided meditations on the InsightTimer app or on Apple Podcasts that will help train you to be calm and confident when you need to be. You can also learn to calm yourself with deep breathing, practicing yoga, exercising, or meditation. Shifting your state by getting out in nature, listening to music, doing something creative and connecting with others can also help.
Our next story, by Malin Hedlund, proves that adding several of these confidence boosting activities to your daily routine, and creating your own rituals to bring peaceful calm into your life, can do wonders when life becomes overwhelming or stressful. Her story demonstrates that we can return to our cool, calm and resourceful state even while the world is crumbling around us. Malin faced one of the biggest challenges a parent could face, moving across the world as her young adult children made moves of their own. And she shares with us the shaky emotions that went with the decision making process, while she dealt with the nervous feeling of not knowing how her business would evolve after moving to another country.
Malin outlines a process that she used for herself, and teaches her clients that will help you, too, create the life of your dreams, even when one dream is ending.
And the final story in this chapter, by Catherine McLeod, highlights just how easy it is to lose our confidence when the outside world sends us bullies and doubters. Fortunately, even when our confidence has been diminished by forces outside of us, we can always tap back into it – via our intuition and spiritual guidance – to return to our natural state of power and peace.
Watch the interview between Cath and Dr. 1Drea here (from 1st edition)