Sports success, like life success, relies heavily on self-confidence and mental toughness (or resiliency). One’s ability to control self-doubt is also important, as it is impossible to fully develop self-confidence if you are regularly bogged down by the anxiety that comes with having self-doubt (Life Success). Using common sport metaphors, when you are confident you “play to win,” and when you are consumed by self-doubt you “play to avoid losing.”
When we are confident we play our best for a number of reasons. First, we get our thinking and behaviors on the same page. This means that our cognitive focus is on the task at-hand, and our emotional energy is positive and facilitative as opposed to anxious and debilitating. This mind-body synchrony is also known as Flow, or being in the zone.
We also benefit from being confident in that we usually have a very short memory when it comes to failures and mistakes. Rather than dwell on the last flubbed play, we instead turn our attention toward the only thing that is important – the next play.
A third benefit of having a high level of confidence is that we take more calculated risks, as well as use more right-brain (or creative) thinking to problem solve. Rather than simply being content with the way things are, confident people often look for ways to improve and are not afraid to try new things.
So if confidence is so important, we do we often struggle with it? That’s an interesting and complex question, but in paring back the layers of human development it’s exciting to learn that we really can dramatically improve upon our self confidence and do so in relatively easy ways.
But before thinking about self-confidence, it is important to better understanding the arch enemoy of self-confidence : self doubt. We often expericne self-doubt because of our natural tendency to want to fully understand what to expect in life (not always possible), as well as our other natural tendency to generally not like change (especially unexpected change). Since self-doubt is a fear-driven response, it behooves us to drill down and better understand what our personal fears consist of — and whether they are real or irrational.
In most cases, our fears are irrational – like what will others think if I fail, or what will happen if I miss this opportunity? As we develop better and more effective coping responses to our irrational fears, our self doubt subsides while our personal confidence increases.
If you are looking to improve your self-confidence, think about the following tips designed to help:
- Take note of your daily accomplishments. Unfortunately, many people quickly dismiss their success or completely overlook their accomplishments!
- Choose your daily attitude and thinking. Only YOU can choose the attitude you experience each day, and you are also the only one in control of your thinking.
- If you are fueled by self-doubt, critically analyze why. In most cases the fears people experience are more ego-threatening than they are from fears associated with being in harms way.
- Keep a daily journal and set realistic, controllable goals. As your success happens, enjoy the process and reward yourself for the effort and your confidence will grow as a result.
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