The Low Self-Confidence Habit (1)
Learning to walk
Little George is ambitious – he’s going to leave his Comfort Zone and do something he’s never done before. He’s going to learn to walk. He’s nearly one and has been at it for a while now but hasn’t made much progress.
He’s mastered the bit about pulling himself into a standing position – but, as soon as he lets go, ‘flump’… he’s on his bum again!
But he hasn’t yet developed the Low Self-Confidence Habit so he pulls himself up again and has another go. And another. And another. Until he masters the art of standing without holding on. Soon this becomes Comfort Zone stuff so he wants to start walking, too.
He loves moving into his Stretch Zone. He’s a learning, experimenting, Stretch Zone enthusiast.
New Starts and confidence
It’s nice to dream up great big ideas or plan ‘new starts’. Unfortunately many of don’t take things any further than this dreaming stage. Faced with the reality that our dream or new start means leaving our Comfort Zone, we talk ourselves out of it pretty quickly.
We’ve lost the enthusiasm for stretching, exploring, and learning.
Instead of ‘seizing the day’ we come up with ways of avoiding taking action. One of these is to delay leaving our Comfort Zone and in the last newsletter we looked into how we use Delaying Programmes.
This time we’ll look at a second obstacle - the Low Self-Confidence habit.
(By the way, this is an important subject and the original draft of the article was too long because it included some detailed action steps. So I’m sending it in two parts. This is Part 1 and it is the ‘explanation’ part. Part 2 contains the ‘how to’ steps and will be with you in a few days. See note below.)
The doubting habit
The Low Self-Confidence habit is there all the time for some of us: it seems to be at the core of our personality.
For others it only surfaces when we think about doing something that will take us into our Stretch Zone. This is when the doubts begin:
- I’d like to do - but I don’t have that sort of confidence!
- Yes, but I’ve got low self-esteem – I couldn’t take this on!
- It’s all right for people – but I lack the confidence!
Low Self-Confidence is not natural!
Lack of confidence is a learned thing; it’s not natural! If it were our natural state we’d never learn to walk. We’d give up after letting go of that table leg and landed on our bum a few times.
Take little George. He wants to be able to stand up and walk. And he doesn’t have a confidence problem. You can see this from his face and in his concentration. It’s not up for negotiation – this time (yet again) he most definitely is going to stand up, stay upright, and take those few precious steps!
And he keeps at it. In his mind he, quite literally, ‘has no doubts’ about this – he will walk…
So how is it that, a few years later, George from having ‘no doubts’ to having ‘lots of doubts’ in his mind? Now he doesn’t have the confidence to ask for that date. He’s unable to look others in the eye. Or to go anywhere or do anything unusual with having a group of friends to bolster him up.
What happened to that confidence?
The clue in the ‘having doubts’ bit. Somewhere along the road from deciding we are going to walk we learn to have doubts.
We moved from having a go to having doubts.
We doubt we’ll succeed.
We doubt it’ll work for us.
We doubt we’re as competent or capable as other people.
We doubt we could handle failure – if things didn’t work out people might scoff.
We doubt people will like us.
We doubt we’d get that job – so why bother going for it.
The ‘Doubting Programme’
This activity of ‘doubting’ – which in NLP terms we might call our Doubting Programme - is maintained and boosted by how we dwell endlessly on setbacks or criticisms – while ignoring successes or compliments.
We’ve developed the ‘could do better’ attitude or even the ‘’will never amount to much’ attitude. In a just few years we’ve learned to doubt ourselves. We’ve developed self-undermining ‘doubt’ habits that can last a life-time... Unless we challenge these.
Let’s get back to normal
To turn things around and get back to having our natural and robust self-confidence requires a strategy, determination, and a change in mental attitude.
- I have developed the habit of thinking in doubts.
- This habit is just a way of thinking - it’s not ‘me’ - and I’m going to replace this habit.
Now that he’s grown up, George has forgotten how it felt to experience his original confidence. Yet this confidence is his natural state. He still has the neurological patterns of that way of thinking – they’ve become a bit weak from lack of us but can be revived.
And this revival does not require a major revolution in how George goes about things. In fact, it is best done by making small changes and sticking with these.
(Why in 2 Parts? It’s a long article. And people are less likely to read long articles – they’ll put these aside ‘for when I have time’. And then forget about them. When I began the Pegasus NLP Newsletter in January 2000 the articles were much longer and could be up to 3000 words. Yet they were read. Now, just sixteen years later, anything over 1200 words is unlikely to be read.)
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