Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT
What Confidence Isn’t
The Confidence Movement
When I first told people I was writing a book on confidence, the reaction I got was a bit mixed. Many people were extremely excited, and told me that they looked forward to learning more about how to access their inner resources and really go for what they wanted in their lives. But a few people said things like “Oh, great—a training manual for assholes.”
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
In the 1970s, psychology went through what has become known as “the confidence movement.” Assertiveness classes were all the rage, and “fake it ’til you make it” became the mantra of the “me” generation.
What nobody seemed to realize at the time is that continually pretending to be something you are not just contributes to your lack of confidence and self-worth. After all, if you need to spend all that time pretending to be someone else you must be pretty uncomfortable about who you really are.
Unfortunately, instead of responding to that insight by seeking to become more authentic, most people stick their heads even deeper into the sand and “pretend harder.” You have probably met those people who attend motivational power weekends, and you can’t wait to get away from them.
One client of mine was an extremely high achiever who had gradually descended into a state of depression in the months before consulting with me. When I asked him about what might be contributing to his depression, he mentioned a “harmless” habit he had fallen into of slightly exaggerating his accomplishments in every situation.
If he had made a $10,000 profit on a business transaction, he would tell people he’d made $11,000. If he shot a 78 on the golf course, he would report his score as 76. Even if his actual results were phenomenal by most people’s standards, he would “up the numbers” a little bit in an attempt to make himself look better.
What became obvious as we spoke was that this was in fact the source of his depression. No matter how well he did or how much he achieved, he could never do as well or achieve as much as the ideal self he was presenting to the world.
The Fear of the Average
Have you ever met someone who is really in your face?
Some people are overly assertive, or they can’t wait to tell you how much they have or who they know, because they are “so successful.” These people confuse confidence with arrogance or brashness. They confuse outer show with inner strength.
“I still feel like I gotta prove something. There are a lot of people hoping I fail. But I like that. I need to be hated.”
In fact, people who come across as arrogant usually suffer from a distinct lack of confidence at the very core of their being.
What this ultimately stems from is what psychologists call “the fear of the average,” and for those people who are living in fear, trying to become more confident is really a thinly disguised form of self-attack—a desperate attempt to paper the cracks on a very delicate and easily bruised ego. And when the ego is in charge, things tend to go terribly wrong.
The ego, also known as the personality, has two primary directives:
1. To Look Good
2. To Be Right
You’ll know those moments when your ego is in charge because you’ll spend all your time and energy either playing to the cameras or defending your position, or both.
Whenever I see any extremes in attitude or behavior, they appear to me as a red flag for someone’s lack of inner confidence. A wacky dress sense or zany personality is often just an attempt to compensate for the fear of being ordinary.
Worse still, people who are out of touch with their natural confidence don’t just try to build themselves up, they also try to bring others around them down. They use their wealth, fame, or status like weapons, asserting their moral or intellectual “superiority” over mere mortals like you or me.
Your Authentic Self
Underneath the many layers of your ego is your authentic self—the you who was there before years of unconscious programming by the world around you created the personality that the people who know you are all too familiar with.
This authentic self is intrinsically valuable, completely unique, and naturally confident. Its primary directive is simple:
TO BE AUTHENTIC IN EVERY SITUATION.
That is why this book won’t help you to create a more convincing facade to try and fool the world. Instead, it will bring you more deeply in touch with your authentic self and fill you with dynamic energy to go for what you want.
Go to the next page and do this exercise now:
TAPPING INTO YOUR AUTHENTIC POWER
Stop for a moment and really take time to vividly imagine how your life would be if you were more at ease with yourself than you are now …
How would your posture be? Shift your body so you’re sitting like that now. Sit the way you would be sitting if you were feeling completely confident and congruent. Feel the feeling of confidence, strength, and ease behind your eyes.
How would your voice sound? What kind of thoughts would you have about yourself and what you can achieve? What kind of things would you say to yourself?
Remember, the more you do these exercises, the faster your life will change. As you practice following my instructions fully and completely and giving each exercise your full, congruent commitment, you are naturally becoming the confident, dynamic person you really are!