Humans are creatures of habit. We like to go to the same coffee shop and order the same drink from the same barista every day before work. We have our routines and we stick to them. This can be a healthy way of functioning, but this habitual nature can also lead to great difficulty when adjusting to change. It can also keep people from initiating change in their lives, whether that is finding a new job, moving to a new city, or starting a new degree program. Change can leave people feeling uncertain and anxious because it is different from what we know, and it can feel risky to alter that comfortable routine.
So, what holds us back from making big life change? Most would answer “fear”. You wouldn’t be wrong. Fear certainly holds us back from many opportunities for growth in life. However, there is something even deeper than fear that inhibits us from leaning in to change, and that is confidence. One’s own belief in themselves and their capabilities is the underlying cause of resistance to change. The more self-confidence you have, the more capable you feel you are of being successful. The less self-confidence you have, the more likely you are to believe you will fail and the more resistant to change you will become.
It really is ok to fail. Sometimes we have to take the leap and prove to ourselves that we really are capable of adjusting to change. Individuals that thrive when change occurs are confident because they have faced change before head-on and have failed. Ironically, failure and the overcoming of failure lead to greater self-confidence. When we test ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., we realize we can push beyond the boundaries we set for ourselves. When we test ourselves we learn that we are so much more capable than we thought we were. When we fail, we are forced to adjust, to learn more about ourselves, and to try again.
Perhaps someone is not ready to jump right in to change, and that is okay. There are other ways to boost self-confidence before taking the action. It is important to note, the more these interventions are practiced, the greater the impact they will have on self-confidence.
Self-talk is everything. What you say to yourself daily influences how you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself. Negative self-talk certainly outweighs positive self-talk in individuals lacking self-confidence. Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk can be a process and take time. The first step is to recognize your negative self-talk and become aware of it. The next step is to replace the negative with a positive in the moment.
Reflect back on accomplishments. We truly do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have accomplished in our lifetime. Take some time to write a list of successes and try to remember what those accomplishments meant to you at that time. Reflecting back on times you overcame adversity, won an award, or completed a difficult task at work allows you to recognize your capabilities and can boost self-confidence greatly.
Do something different. Remember that monotonous daily routine you have? Try to mix it up a little by implementing one small thing into your day or week. This could be trying a new place to eat, saying hi to a stranger, switching up that shade of lipstick, or reading at night instead of watching T.V. Implementing one small thing can ease you into change, add more variety, and increase positive feelings. Once you see small change is not so bad, big change may not seem so scary.
Affirmations are a must. Affirmations are positive statements we recite to ourselves daily. Affirmations have been shown to increase happiness, but they are also a great way to increase self-confidence. An affirmation for self-confidence would look something like “I am capable of handling anything that comes my way” or “I have what it takes to be successful in life”. Although you may not believe it right away when saying it, through daily repetition your brain will come to accept these statements and believe them to be true.
It is normal to feel hesitant when facing a big life change and having fear of the unknown is very common, but becoming resistant to change can be maladaptive to our health. Building upon self-confidence in order to feel capable of navigating change is key to ultimately becoming successful after the change has occurred. Building self-confidence is also the key to getting out of your comfort zone and exploring the variety of options that life has to offer. You might just surprise yourself and find that the change you were scared to make, is actually the change you needed!