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February 18, 2009 by Steve
In my previous article I explained what a reference experience is and how it can help you develop self-confidence. A reference experience is a launching platform that can lead to bigger actions. The more frequently you create new reference experiences, the faster you build your self-confidence. The problem is having that first experience. You have to take action before you’re ready to take it.
Although building self-confidence is an inside job, it has been my experience that self-confidence comes from the experience of external results. This isn’t easy, but it is very simple. You have to act.
There are two ways to do this. One comes from pain and the other from pleasure.
Love & Self-Confidence
Let’s start with the feel good approach first. Love or gratitude set into action is one of the most powerful ways to create new experiences.
The more often you focus on gratitude, the more often you see the good in your life. And the more good you see, the greater good you perceive. Now take that grateful person and put them in a position where they must raise their level of courage to take new actions. They might look at this new situation and say:
What’s the worst that can happen?
Probably very little… at least to the person with a grateful mind. The person who is grateful only sees the good that can come from their actions. Remember, the grateful mindset illuminates possibility. And if you only see possibility, it increases your willingness to act.
In my own experience, being grateful has given me the courage to take more acts of courage. And these acts have created new reference experiences and a new belief in what is possible in my own life. The net result is increased self-confidence.
This is how I started writing. I was given the opportunity to write for Confidence Bound Magazine. And I was so honored and grateful for this opportunity that it made the acting so much fun. It was easy for me to take action because it was inspired action.
Fear & Self-Confidence
The other approach is acting through fear. I’ve come about it from this angle as well. There was a period of time in my life when I was fearful. I was terrified of a lot of things and one of them was public speaking. Since this was my biggest fear, I decided to take it head on.
“It has been said that if you will do the thing you fear, death of fear is certain. Courage is not the absence of fear and anxiety, it’s proceeding in spite of those feelings.” ~ Price Pritchett
It was early 2006 and I was just beginning my journey into personal growth. To eliminate my public speaking phobia I made the point of speaking to large groups whenever the opportunity arose. I participated as a student in several seminars and spoke in front of hundreds of people to ask questions and share with others. These small acts of courage helped to increase and build my self-confidence.
By the end of that year I had a few short speeches under my belt. I felt confident in my ability to speak in front of groups of people. The fear began to disappear. Although I don’t speak for a living, I do speak to groups from time to time and it nowadays it doesn’t scare the beejesus out of me like it used to.
How to Develop Self-Confidence
Either way, you decide how you will take your new actions. You always have the choice; come from fear or love. When you fuel your actions with emotion there lies an opportunity to create a new experience to reference.
Reference experience – a highly emotional experience we refer to validate new actions.
It’s important to remember that your mind can’t differentiate between what is real and what is not; or what is inside and what is outside. That means you can ‘trick’ yourself into taking new actions. You can fuel yourself with emotion before you begin to drive yourself to take new actions.
To leverage greater action, leverage your emotions
Since emotions are an inside job, you can use them to leverage greater action. You could start by visualizing the actions you would take. Do this everyday for five minutes. You want to generate that feeling tone that sets your heart on fire. The more emotionally connected you become to these ways of being, the more real it will become in your experience. And the more real it becomes in your experience, the greater you will be impelled to act.
Here’s the next article in the series: 3 Tips to Build Self-Confidence.