Are you sure you want more confidence?
Most of us take it for granted that more confidence is a good thing. Not so. Before we look at how to have more confidence, let's look at the dangers of having too much confidence (and how often that is the case).
"Having expectations" is a type of confidence
When we expect things to turn out a certain way and we neglect to consider the evidence that it could turn out differently, we are being confident (either positively or negatively).
For example, if you believe, "My spouse would never want to divorce me," that's a dangerous confidence. You're ignoring the risks of marriage that apply to almost everyone to varying degrees. And, by doing so, you're more likely to take your spouse for granted and even possibly increase the risks of divorce.
On the negative side, consider an example of the belief, "My parents could never accept the fact that I'm gay." Yes, this could be true. But it could also be false. Unless you told your parents you were gay and they went to their grave without accepting that fact, only then you could have the confidence that was true.
The confidence embedded in expectations is everywhere and it's deadly. See Undoing expectations.
The over confidence in our beliefs
Most of us most of the time are not skeptical enough about our own beliefs. How aware are you of the following biases (that create over confidence in our beliefs) and how much intention do you consistently create to avoid them?
Confirmation bias (the tendency to look for ways to reconfirm our current beliefs, rather than looking for evidence or reasons that might dis-confirm them)
Righteousness bias (our feelings of "rightness" or "wrongness" about something inhibits any curiosity about how we might be wrong about what we believe)
Assumption bias (the tendency to be unaware and unquestioning of the assumptions we may have when making choices and conclusions)
Availability bias (a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method, or decision)
Clustering illusion (the tendency to overestimate the importance of small runs, streaks, or clusters in large samples of random data...that is, seeing phantom patterns)
These are just a few of the several biases (see Cognitive biases) that can cause us to feel much more confident about our beliefs than is valid or helpful.
Assuming that the confidence you want will serve you rather than trip you up...
Let's look at four types of confidence.
First is the confidence of a predicted skill or result
“I am confident I can finish washing the dishes within ten minutes.”
“I am confident my aunt will accept my invitation.”
“I am confident that the weather will clear by tomorrow.”
“I am confident I can tango moderately well.”
“I am confident, if I make enough calls, someone will accept my invitation.”
This type of confidence, if valid, is improved by either more practice, learning, or un-learning.
Second is the confidence that you can and will keep going in a process until you get the desired results (within a given time frame)
“I am confident I can make this business successful within five years.”
“I am confident I will become great at selling this product within six months.”
"I am confident I will become adept a juggling three balls at once within ten days."
Third is the confidence that you can take some action without fear (or, at least, without a lot of fear)
“I am confident that I can easily apply for a new job.”
“I am confident that it won’t be hard to say ‘no’ to my brother if he asks for a loan.”
“I am confident that I will be willing to ask any interesting girl for a date.”
Fourth is a generalized confidence that you’re worthy and able to dance with life (this type of confidence is often called self-esteem)
"I feel good about myself and my ability to handle life."
"If I lose my job, everything will still be okay."
"Life seems like just a big playground."
Many factors affect one or more of these four types of confidence
Two factors will often create the most immediate impact on confidence (of types two through four): finding ways to enjoy the processes and choosing courage.
Enjoying the process
Let’s imagine you want more confidence in becoming a successful insurance salesperson. If you either know (or know you can find a way) to enjoy the process of learning how to become a successful insurance salesperson, that will naturally add to your confidence in your future success. A person who is enjoying the process can more easily and predictably be persistent in taking the necessary actions. Contrast this with another person who tolerates the process just so they can hopefully get the results of being a successful insurance salesperson. This is why NNI is very effective in creating confidence. Check out the NNI toolkit.
Often the most salient method to increase your confidence in a particular area is by making friends with your fear (undoing fear) and choosing courage (all four steps) to take the next action in the appropriate process.
As an example, you’d like to have more confidence in saying “no” to your friend who has asked for a loan.
Review the undoing fear process. Apply the process with the specific expression, “Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I am so scared to say ‘no’ to my friend.”
Remember: belly breathing, slowly loudly silly speaking, 11 times
Notice how, after doing this, you feel more confident in your ability and willingness to say “no” to your friend.
Use this approach for any circumstance in which you want more confidence. As you do it again and again, not only are you building your "courage muscle," but you are also building your "confidence muscle."
Courage first, confidence second
In most circumstances we don’t have direct access to feeling confident. But we do have direct access to choosing courage (taking it step by step, if needed). Predictably, as you choose courage again and again in a given circumstance, the amount of courage you need to choose goes down and the confidence you feel goes up.
Welcome to the world of more and more confidence!