Heroes know how to build confidence.
This knowledge has given them the ability to conquer most of the situations that they find themselves in.
But, if you’re reading this post, I take it that you don’t know how to build confidence.
As a result, you might have already turned to the sea of information out there about enhancing your confidence levels.
It usually preaches tips such as ‘use positive self-talk’.
These tips, for the most part, are just plasters (or band aids, if you’re American).
They don’t address the root of the reader’s anxiety, but just try to manage it.
At best, these tips will either make you just appear more confident, or give you a slight boost when you need it.
If that is all you want, that’s great.
But if you’re anything like me, you want to build life-long confidence.
Don’t get me wrong.
These tips and tricks I talk of can be beneficial.
But I’m sure you really want to be in a position where you don’t have to use any of them at all.
This can only be achieved by developing a solid confident foundation.
But what does this mean?
Having a confident foundation means that you can function properly in day to day life, value yourself, and have accurate perceptions on failure.
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- You don’t want to wear that funky outfit to the office because you’re afraid that your co-workers will tease you.
- You’re too anxious to ask the sales assistant where the milk is.
- You stand awkwardly at your work networking event, trying desperately to catch the attention of someone that you already know.
These are all signs that you don’t have a confident foundation.
I used to be like this (and worse!).
But now that I have built my confident foundation, I have no problem with any of the aforementioned scenarios.
The Heroic Confidence System (outlined later) will teach you how to build a real and raw confident foundation so you can be in a state of constant relaxation and be more capable in situations that used to make you anxious.
But lets be real.
Even if you do have a very solid confident foundation, there are still going to be certain situations that make you anxious, or where you lack capability.
That’s why it’s a foundation.
Like a building, you can add more stories to it until it becomes a skyscraper.
What is Confidence?
To understand how to build confidence, and what the Heroic Confidence System actually helps with, we first have to define the two different types of confidence:
Core confidence, or as I am calling it, having a ‘confident foundation’, is having an accurate perception of reality, which allows you to be comfortable in yourself and around others.
It is, for the most part, a social ability.
It gives you the ability to function as you would like in day-to-day life without anxiety.
The Heroic Confidence System develops a core, confident foundation by reducing anxiety and increasing capability.
Situational confidence is more trivial and covers how you feel when you are put into certain situations.
So, someone with confident foundations may lack confidence if asked to complete a maths test, if they are legitimately not very competent at maths.
Situational confidence is built by repetition of the anxiety bringing task.
Confidence IS NOT a Costume
Before I explain how to build confidence with the Heroic Confidence System, I’d like to address the affect that your appearance has on confidence.
Here at Hero and Villain Style, I constantly hammer home the importance of personal image (it is Hero and Villain Style, after all).
When it comes to creating a confident foundation, there are two reasons that you need to pay attention to your image:
- Your anxiety may stem from not being comfortable in the way you look.
- Others will believe that the confidence you present is genuine, and will treat you well.
Your anxiety is your appearance
The anti-confidence is insecurity.
If you are insecure about some part of your appearance that you can change, then it’s just logical to fix it.
In fact, depending on your situation, It might be all that you need to crush your anxiety.
If your appearance bothers you, then you’re making the task of building confidence much harder for yourself as you’re starting behind.
If you’re serious about learning how to build confidence, then you should make sure your appearance is in check.
Others will believe that your confidence is real, and will treat you well.
Even if you don’t have a problem with your appearance, it is still very important to make sure that you pay attention to it.
It is hard to believe that someone with bad posture, bedhead and ill-fitting clothing is confident. As a result, people will treat you as such, which can knock your self-esteem.
On top of this, those that you already know will be more open to your new personality change.
It acts as a verification and confirms that your newfound confidence is now part of who you are.
But it remains true that confidence is not a costume.
You cannot expect to put on a suit and suddenly become as confident as Harvey Specter.
Good personal image is a vehicle that helps you build those confident foundations.
The Heroic Confidence System
Among psychologists, it is widely debated whether children are born with their personality, or if it is formed by our environment and experiences.
B.F.Skinner’s ‘behaviourist’ approach argues that we all start as ‘blank slates’, and that almost all of our behaviour is learned.
This means at one point, we were all as confident as this guy:
Alpha M (or Aaron Marino to fans) is one of the most confident guys out there.
He has tackled fear factor, stood up to the Sharks, and has screen presence that would make James Bond nervous.
But in line with the behaviourist idea, he was a ‘blank slate’ at birth, just like everyone else.
Therefore, it is the things that he has done and experienced which has got him the confidence he possesses today.
He wasn’t simply born with it.
And this is the same with every confident person you see.
So, if they can get there, so can you.
If you ask them how to build confidence, they will probably tell you something along the lines of ‘confidence is like a muscle’.
They realise that more you train it, the stronger it will become. It is an ability that is developed.
So how did they do it?
How The Heroic Confidence System Works (How to Build Confidence)
To crush insecurity (and figure out how to build confidence), we must look at the psychological theory of classical conditioning.
Theorised by Ivan Pavolv, classical conditioning states that we respond to a situation in a certain way because we have been conditioned to do so.
For example, before any conditioning has taken place, a child will act neutrally towards a balloon.
When the balloon is burst, the child is frightened by the loud noise.
If the popping of the balloon is experienced by the child enough times, the child will start to fear the balloon, even when it has not popped.
The child has associated the balloon with the fear of the popping, as they were repeatedly presented alongside each other.
Of course, like the idea of ‘blank slates’, this is a very simple model of complex human behaviour.
But to put it simply, your low confidence is really only a response that has been conditioned to certain situations.
Therefore, all we need to do is replace the response of anxiety with relaxation.
To aid the process of forming a relaxed response, the Heroic Confidence System also builds competence in the situation. So, not only will you be less anxious, but you will actually be better at it.
This will cognitively legitimise your ability, which will lead to you believing in yourself more and becoming more confident.
How to Build Confidence with the Heroic Confidence System
Step 1 – Address ALL physical insecurities.
As explained previously, physical appearance is paramount in allowing you to build strong confident foundations.
If you’re insecure about your body type, get to the gym and make your goals a reality.
If you’re embarrassed about your clothing, read up on what flatters your features, and go out and buy it.
Skip this step, and you’ll be starting construction on your confident foundations with inferior cement. You may lay the foundations, but it will take longer to do so, and won’t be as solid as it could be.
On top of this, if you can’t be bothered to fix the insecurities that are clearly in your control, then you have no chance of addressing those that are deep down and hidden.
Step 2 – Adopt an ‘internal locus of control’.
Despite all I have previously explained, you still may not believe that you can develop confidence.
You may still think that ‘you’re either born with it or you’re not’.
It’s no good trying to become more confident if you believe that you can’t change.
You need to adopt an ‘internal locus of control’.
This means that you know that you have control over your life, and can take actionable steps to improve it.
Step 3 – Concretely identify the problem.
What situation gets you most anxious?
It might look something like this:
- Talking to strangers.
- Going to a networking event.
- Speaking up when you feel something isn’t right.
These are all situations which require confident foundations to excel in.
When you master one, your have laid your confident foundations, and you can start to add more stories to your skyscraper.
For example, I identified that my main problem was talking to strangers.
I just, for some reason, wasn’t very good at it.
I used the next steps of the Heroic Confidence System to treat the anxiety, and become more capable in the situation.
As a result, not only can I now talk to pretty much anyone with ease, but am also able to do all of the other things on that list.
I transformed my anxiety into my confident foundation.
You have to identify a situation that makes you anxious which should be covered by your confident foundations, and address it using the next steps in the system.
In fixing this one anxiety, you will lay your confident foundations.
Step 4 – Conduct an honest review of your competence.
So, now that you have a situation in mind that makes you anxious, take a step back.
A lack of confidence means that you probably don’t have an accurate perception of reality.
Therefore, it is likely that you are evaluating your potential competence in that situation lower than it really is.
This negative view can prevent you from taking action, and add to your anxiety.
Think about it.
Was I really incapable at speaking to strangers?
Of course not.
You need to explain to yourself how irrational your anxiety is, and constantly remind yourself of it throughout your journey.
A good way of doing this is by using evidence. Think to yourself ‘what is the evidence that I am competent at this task?’.
For me, it was something like this : ‘I know that I’m pretty smooth and can talk clearly and properly. In fact, I had a nice little conversation with that granny at the bus stop the other day!’
You will then realise that you are actually more competent then you think.
Finally, if there are certain failed situations that have knocked your confidence, split them up into a pie chart of ‘your fault’, ‘their fault’, and the ‘situation’s fault’.
You will probably find that the ‘your fault’ second is smaller than you thought it would be.
Step 5 – Be against having emotion.
“I’m against having emotions” is one of Harvey Specter’s most famous quotes.
I strongly disagree with the message it sends – emotion is a great thing.
But when it comes to building confidence, it doesn’t always work in your favour.
It is what stops you from taking action when you need to.
You can’t wait until you feel confident to take action, because if you don’t take action… you’ll never be confident.
Step 6 – Choose a method to CRUSH your anxiety.
So, at this point you should:
- Not have any anxiety with you appearance.
- Have the mind set that you can change to become more confident.
- Know the situation that makes you most anxious.
- Realise that you are actually capable of carrying out the task you are anxious about.
- Be in a position where you won’t let your emotions get in your way of making a change.
Now that the ground work is set, it’s time to choose a method.
You have a choice of two: systematic desensitisation (recommended), and flooding (or a combination of both).
As mentioned earlier, the big problem is that when a certain situation is presented to you, you have conditioned yourself to respond with anxiety.
These methods, in one way or another, replace the response of anxiety with relaxation, and work on the idea that a person cannot be both anxious and relaxed at the same time.
This is the less intense and gradual option of the two.
You start by creating a ‘desensitisation hierarchy’, an ordered list of different intensities of your anxiety.
For example, for talking to strangers, it might look something like this:
|Saying hello to a stranger.||1 (Least anxious)|
|Commenting on something that is happening in the local area to a stranger.||2|
|Having a light conversation with a stranger.||3|
|Having a deeper conversation with a stranger.||4|
|Having a deeper conversation with a stranger and exchange numbers.||5 (Most anxious)|
So, lets say you get anxious around the idea of saying hello to a stranger…
You would start there, and force yourself to say hello to enough people until you were no longer anxious about doing so. The response of anxiety at this point will have been replaced with relaxation.
You have successfully counter-conditioned the anxiety.
You would then continue to work your way up the ‘desensitisation hierarchy’, only moving on to the next stage once you are fully relaxed with the current stage.
When you get to the top and master the situation that brings you the most anxiety, you have successfully conquered your anxiety and built a confident foundation.
Flooding is essentially a sawed off ‘systematic desensitisation’.
You jump in right at the deep end.
Instead of gradually exposing yourself to each successive scenario like before, you force yourself through the ‘most anxious’ situation and allow yourself no escape or prior build up.
So, using the ‘talking to strangers’ example again, this would be walking straight up to a stranger, introducing yourself, making deep conversation and then exchanging phone numbers.
But if it works out, you’ve cut away a bunch of hassle for yourself as you don’t have to gradually build up to it.
A Combination of Both
I used a combination of the two to lay my confident foundations, so I understand their power.
I created a desensitisation hierarchy for my phobia of talking to strangers, but instead of starting where I was actually comfortable, I started a few notches higher.
Therefore, I was partially flooding myself.
After this, I did it again, but at a higher intensity.
Both of the flooding experiences were successful. As the second experience was at the highest level of anxiety, it meant that my confident foundations were set.
Step 7 – Increase your capability & prepare for success.
So, now you have situation you want to treat in mind, and a method you want to use to fix it.
The final step is to become more competent and increase you actual capability in your chosen situation.
You can do this by reading up on the subject surrounding your anxiety, both before and during the execution of your chosen method.
So, if your anxiety inducing situation is giving presentations, then research how to give a good presentation.
By learning more about a topic, you will actually get better at it and cognitively realise that you are competent.
This competence translates to confidence.
On top of this, when you carry out your chosen method, you will naturally become more capable in the situation situation the more times you put yourself through it.
Step 8 – Execute your plan.
Now all that’s left to do is carry out your chosen method on your chosen situation and BUILD confidence.
But I have some bad news for you if you thought it was going to be a walk in the park:
You will fail.
Awkward situations will arise when you try and build confidence and crush your anxiety.
But this is simply because you are putting yourself out there.
The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunity there is for things to go wrong.
But in going through these awkward situations, you learn that when you screw up, it’s not really not a big deal.
In fact, I now look back and laugh at almost all of the awkward situations that arose when I was building my confident foundations.
On top of understanding that screwing up doesn’t matter, it is also actually the most powerful tools for improvement.
With the situation, you must analyse why it was awkward and put steps in place to fix it so it doesn’t happen again.
This again increases your capability, and along with it your confidence.
The Heroic Confidence System (HOW TO BUILD CONFIDENCE IN SUMMARY)
- Address ALL physical insecurities. It might be all you need to CRUSH anxiety.
- Adopt an ‘internal locus of control’. You CAN change.
- Concretely identify the problem. What situation makes you MOST anxious?
- Conduct an honest review of your competence. You ARE actually capable in the situation.
- Be against having emotion. Don’t let FEAR hold you back.
- Choose a method to CRUSH your anxiety. Pick a METHOD.
- Increase your capability & prepare for success. Research your anxiety bringing situation to become more CAPABLE.
- Execute your plan. DO IT
Conclusion – How to Build Confidence
There is a hero inside of all of us.
That hero is confident, knows their worth, and is willing to stand up for what is right.
Now you know how to build confidence, so this can be you.
By introducing the Heroic Confidence System as a action plan in your life, you’ll be able to build confidence from the ground up and be the best version of yourself.