Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT(2016)/index.html#calibre_link-82">CHAPTER 8
Isn’t “Believing in Myself” Just a Cliché?
Do you believe in yourself? Do you think it matters?
“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.”
In one of the most detailed studies ever conducted into the effects of self-belief on performance, the psychologist Albert Bandura discovered that a person’s genuine beliefs about their capabilities can be a more accurate predictor of their future levels of performance than any actual results they had produced in the past.
In other words, the way you think about yourself in relationship to the challenges you are currently facing in your life will have a profound impact on your ability to succeed.
The mechanism by which it works is called “the self-fulfilling prophecy” …
The Power of Prophecy
You have probably heard of the notion of self-fulfilling prophecies before. For example, if someone believes that they are unattractive and that no one they actually liked could ever possibly be interested in them, how would you expect them to behave?
Will they approach someone they are attracted to?
If they do, will they use their body and mind in a confident way?
Are they likely to be focused on making the other person feel comfortable and good about themselves while they are with them?
When someone shows interest in them, are they likely to respond to it or dismiss it?
Because they believe the way they do, they don’t take the actions that could lead to disproving the belief. Therefore, they bring about the very condition that they wish weren’t so, thereby “proving” their belief to be true.
Eventually, they will simply conclude there is no point in even trying, and so the prophecy is fulfilled.
Fortunately, we can use the same power for self-fulfilling prophecy to build our confidence and massively increase the likelihood of our success.
In 1955, a charismatic middle-aged woman called Marion Keech began claiming she was receiving messages from the planet “Clarion.” These messages revealed to her that a great flood would come and destroy the world on December 21, but that flying saucers would be coming to rescue her and her faithful followers.
In preparation for the historic day, many of her devotees resigned from their jobs, sold their possessions, and gave away their money (after all, they would not need Christmas presents that year).
“I knew I was a winner back in the late ’60s. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way—I hope it never will.”
On the morning of the 21st, Mrs. Keech and her followers assembled on a mountaintop to await their deliverance. But to everyone’s surprise, the flying saucers never came. Fortunately, neither did the great flood.
Now, you might think that having given up everything, her followers would be a tad disappointed, but when Marion Keech reported that she had received a new message that the world had been spared from the apocalypse because of the “faith of her group and the light they had spread upon the Earth,” the group celebrated.
Instead of slinking home to prepare for a presentless Christmas in an empty house with smug “I told you so” relatives, they contacted everyone they could in the media to explain what a wonderful event had occurred.
Why would seemingly sane people act in such a seemingly insane way?
Because one of the mind’s primary functions is to prove itself right. According to social psychologist Leon Festinger, the state of trying to hold two inconsistent ideas, beliefs, or opinions (known as “cognitive dissonance”) is so uncomfortable that people will unconsciously seek to reduce the conflict by changing one or both of these ideas so that they “fit together” better.
In other words, your mind wants to stay consistent to whatever you have previously said or demonstrated you believe to be true. You can’t become rich if you’re constantly bad-mouthing rich people—your mind won’t stand for it. Similarly, you can’t sit around resenting confident, successful people and be surprised that your mind doesn’t want you to join them.
Is there a part of you that really wants to be more confident and successful but another part that’s not so sure? If that’s the case, you’ll probably find that sometimes you self-sabotage—you start to be successful and suddenly you do something to stop yourself. It’s a bit like driving down the street with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake.
Below is a simple exercise you can use to resolve that creative tension and increase your self-belief in any situation …
As you practice this technique, you will find it becomes easier and easier to resolve every internal conflict in this way. And when all parts of yourself are aligned and moving in the same direction, you will have become focused like a laser beam on whatever you decide to do!
CREATING INTEGRATED SELF-BELIEF
Read through the exercise before you do it for the first time …
1. Identify the two conflicting beliefs or positions within your mind.
For example, part of you might want to be more confident, part of you might want to stay fearful because it believes that will keep you safe.
2. Place your hands out in front of you, palms up. Imagine the confident part in your dominant hand, the fearful part in your nondominant hand.
3. Ask each part in turn what its positive intention for you is in wanting what it wants. Continue asking until you really recognize that at some level they both want the same thing. Even if it feels like you are just making it up, going through this process will create dramatic changes in your levels of confidence and self-belief.
Confidence => More resourceful => Perform Better => SUCCESS!
Fear => More cautious => Perform Better => SUCCESS!
4. Imagine a new “super part” in between your hands with the combined resources of both your confidence and your fear.
5. Moving only as quickly as you can, bring your hands together until the two separate parts become a new super part.
6. Bring your hands in to your chest and take the new integrated image inside you.
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