Is Practice the Answer to all Confidence Issues?

I am currently reading Pure Sport: Practical Sport Psychology. The chapter that I am currently reading and was looking forward to is on relaxation – because I am so relaxed… (How many do you know in AA who are?) In the middle of the chapter the authors cover dealing with the lack of confidence in one short and simple paragraph.


Essentially, they say practice.

Yes, that is it. The book is dealing with sports psychology and I can see the logic of practicing your 7 iron over and over if you don’t feel confident when using it. However, with only this one clear and concise answer on confidence I immediately starting thinking that perhaps this is also the answer to all areas where I have a lack of confidence.

What is a Lack of Confidence?

Most of my life I have been trying to tame the problem of not feeling good enough. I have looked at self esteem, went to counselling, read many books for answers, and talked my head off with friends – each of these has helped in some degree. The problem is not as acute as it once was though it is still there. Additionally as I have aged, I have learned how to manage or ignore problems in some situations.

I subscribe to the principle illustrated by Occam’s razor, the solution with the fewest assumptions, the simplest, has always felt the most intuitive. This idea of practice to solve all my confidence issues is appealing.

How a Lack of Self Confidence Presents Itself

I was surprised many years ago when I started to find out that other people perceived me as confidant, when at the time confidence was the last thing I felt. I had just started a new business and feeling confidant was not one of my feelings at the time.

I can come across as distant and unapproachable, looking to define that better my other half explained that I can look annoyed a lot of the time. I am. However, since having this pointed out, I am practicing not being, however being a worrier creates challenges.

I believe that a lack of confidence can be seen in the two extremes of anger and shyness. Most angry people I know have an issue with fear – I don’t think the fear would exist if the person were confidant. Shyness, I believe, is also the same fear issue presenting in a different way.

So What to Practice

About twenty years ago, I was playing football with my first son. I said something along the lines of – you are really good, how did you get so good. He answered “I practice”. Wow, that hit me at the time thinking he did learn that from me.

I past 50 a couple of years ago, sometimes I wonder how much can a person change as they age. The older I am the older the people around me are, and I have low expectations of change and age as something that can be combined.

Perhaps that is the first item to practice. My belief systems are often so ingrained that I don’t notice thinking patterns that are unhelpful.

I find client proposals challenging – I want to give enough to get the work but not so much that I am working for free and therefore each one causes stress. This is an obvious area for practice; there are many more:

  • Tolerance
  • Replacing being annoyed with other thoughts
  • Saying no
  • Writing
  • Unplugging from work

My expectations and outlook on life are the areas that would benefit from most practice. I find my stress levels immediately reduced by thinking I am practicing a task; I am more relaxed and therefore have better concentration and focus.

Confidence and Fear

I understand that the largest challenge could well be fear. It is often easier to live with the status quo rather than developing more courage.

Growing up the worst insult was looking like a dick or being made to look like one – it was a hugely ego based society. Practice means putting myself in the situation where I will look like a dick, (at least in my head), it means learning, and learning requires a willingness to make mistakes.

I watch my son, who is nearly nine months old, practice crawling, sitting up, standing, wanting to walk – his whole day is filled with practice and curiosity – without fear. There appears to come a time in life where practice finishes and expectations of perfection set in. I meditate, that is practice without end.

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