Cultivating Confidence Part 2: Face Your Fears and Take Messy ActionJun 13, 2019
Rachel Hollis, the self-development queen, says confidence is a learned behavior.
In her newest book, “Girl Stop Apologizing”. she talks about how she acted confident early on in her career as an event planner in order to land big gigs.
So many good things came out of a willingness to act confidence even when I didn’t always feel confident. It’s like anything else. You can make yourself feel anything you set your mind to as long as you back it up with action. I acted confident in what I could do as an event planner, and then I backed it up with research and hard work to arm myself with the skills necessary to pull it off.Rachel Hollis. “Girl Stop Apologizing” p. 178
The times I faced my fears and took action before I was ready were pivotal moments in my life.
Like building a foundation, each action I took was a brick of confidence laid down. My foundation slowly became sturdier. I became more and more sure of myself. Even if I didn’t always succeed. Even if I messed up or looked stupid, knowing I took action and tried made me feel confident.
So, as I’ve built a solid foundation of confidence, I’ve started to rewrite my story. I’ve started to view myself as someone who takes chances, faces her fears, and embraces challenges.
How Do I Do Something I’m Scared of Doing When I Don’t Feel Confident?
If you’ve followed my blog, I think it’s common knowledge that I haven’t always been the most confident person.
I played volleyball in high school, and though I’m competitive, I was very timid while playing. I didn’t like to dive for the ball; I was scared of getting hurt or looking stupid. I was nervous about messing things up for the team. Even though I was actually pretty good.
I pulled my groin freshman year and sat it out for the rest of the season. I definitely could’ve gotten back in to play. I would’ve never admitted this then, but staying on the sidelines eliminated my risk of making a mistake. I couldn’t let down my team if I wasn’t even playing.
At that time in my life, I wasn’t interested in taking risks. I didn’t trust myself enough to go out of my wheelhouse.
How, then, did I eventually start taking risks when I was so afraid of failing?
Baby steps. As I look back at the timeline of my life, I started making decisions that gradually became riskier and riskier. I started out small and continued to take one step further, and then one more step further.
- Leaving home for college: I initially went to a college that was really close to home so I went home every weekend. I was afraid of being too far from people I knew. After a semester, though, I realized I wanted to move further away and fully experience college life. I understood I could make my own decisions.
- Transferring schools: I decided I wanted to study Retail Merchandising, so I transferred to UW-Stout which was over an hour from home. I didn’t know a soul but I made friends quickly. I started building faith in myself.
- Moving to California: I forged my own path and moved to California alone. This was a big deal for me. I moved, I made friends, I built a life all on my own. I learned that I was capable of more than I’d realized.
- Excelling in my career: I knew if I wanted to have a life in California, I needed to be able to support myself. That thought alone gave me the drive to work really hard. My hard work was noticed and I got promoted every year at my first company. I started to believe I was smart and worthy.
If you’re feeling paralyzed with fear. If you’re not feeling confidence in your own abilities, try thinking back to your own timeline.
What difficult things have you done that you made it through just fine? When did you surprise yourself with your own strength?
You do have it in you. Building confidence and faith in yourself doesn’t need to come from a big, grand gesture or some major life change. It starts small as you build your foundation.
Take Small, Actionable Steps
Seriously. Start small. Just start with keeping promises to yourself and watch how your confidence grows.
Once again, Rachel Hollis slams us with some wisdom in her new book. She talks about the importance of setting a goal and keeping it. No cheating, no bargaining, no quitting.
We’re talking goals like: quitting sugar for 30 days, working out five days a week, meditating every single day for ten minutes.
Attainable, actionable, “small” but powerful goals. But the key is, you can’t quit. You can’t cheat; you can’t skip a day. The idea is that you follow through 100% because this helps you build a reputation with yourself that you’re the type of person who keeps their promises. You’re the type of person who always follows through, even when it gets hard.
Even smaller than that. Just simply follow through on whatever you do. Always go until the end. I thought of this as I was roasting in a sauna the other day and wanted to get out three minutes early.
Stay in the sauna the entire session time. Push yourself to the last minute in that work out. Focus on a project for an hour without checking Instagram.
Be the type to follow through, push through, go all in.
I used to be the type who quit when things got hard or uncomfortable. I never pushed myself in work outs, if I even did work out. I didn’t go out of my way to challenge myself. I didn’t like to do things I didn’t already know how to do.
A noticeable shift in my life was when I followed through on a very restrictive diet, the GAPS Diet, in an attempt to heal my stomach. When I started, I barely knew my way around a kitchen. I wasn’t a cook and I suddenly had to spend hours a day in the kitchen.
But, I was relentless. I cooked every single day, no matter how tired I was after work. I stuck to the diet fully. This level of tenacity and dedication surprised me. It built a confidence and self-reliance inside of me. I realized, I can do hard things. Really hard things that other people don’t want to do.
Weigh Out Your Options. What Happens if I Don’t Do the Scary Thing?
My biggest motivators are negativity and a fear of regret. Negativity, meaning worst case scenario. Fear of regret, meaning always wondering what if. If you ask me, what if is one of the worst questions you can be stuck asking yourself.
As Lori Harder always says, “find your carrot”. Find what motivates you.
When deciding if I should do something I’m scared of doing, I mentally weigh out my options. What am I afraid of? What happens if I don’t try?
Here are some of my fears and how I weighed them out.
- Starting a blog.
- My fear: I don’t know how to make a website. What if I don’t have enough to write about? What if people judge me? What if I have no free time? What if no one reads my posts? I don’t know how to grow a social media following!
- If I Don’t Try: I’ll continue to not have a creative outlet, which is already frustrating me (negativity). I’ll never know if I could’ve been a success or not (fear of regret).
- The Outcome: I learned how to make a website. I have more topics to write about than I know what to do with. I’ve connected with amazing new people and grown closer with old friends as a result of my writing. My anxiety has lessened significantly because I have a healthy creative outlet.
- Joining a dating app.
- My fear: All guys on these apps are going to be pigs. There isn’t going to be anyone decent to meet. I’m going to get hurt.
- If I Don’t Try: My only dating options are the places around me and I already know what they’re about (negativity). I’ll never know if I could’ve met someone great (fear of regret).
- The Outcome: I met Matt. I had to filter through a few duds but I was able to find the love of my life. I hate to think what would’ve happened if I’d just listened to my fears.
Although facing those fears of mine wasn’t easy, overcoming them brought me face to face with some of the best blessings in my life.
When you don’t do something simply because you’re scared or because you don’t know what the outcome will be, you’re letting your fear drive the bus. And fear is a crappy driver! Kick him out of that driver’s seat and get comfy, because you’re in control of where your life is going.
Start Before You’re Ready
This is so important. Just start!
You don’t need to wait until you can afford Lululemon before you start practicing yoga. You don’t need to learn how to code before you create your website. You don’t need to have a six-figure job before you can start dating.
Start now. Start today. Do it scared. Take messy action.
I was reading through my old journals the other night and 22-year-old Alissa was scared of everything. She was anxious and worried a lot of the time.
So, I know it wasn’t easy for me to start taking risks when I felt that way inside. I’m proud of that younger me for stepping up even when it was difficult and scary and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
There’s never going to be a day when the confidence fairy sprinkles her magic dust all over you and now you’re confident. I used to wait for that myself until I learned, confidence comes by taking action.
I shared this quote in my last confidence post and I’ll share it again because I think it’s so good.
It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.Millard Fuller
Walk the talk. Act before you’re ready. There’s never going to be a perfect time. Now is the time. Take a chance. You’ll learn along the way.