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June 25, 2013


As a brief summary to yesterday’s Part A post on confidence, we have developed a concrete definition of what confidence is and reviewed how important it is in all aspects of our lives. We explained that it is not something people are born with, but rather something that needs to be taught and instilled based on our environment and how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

We determined the two components that make up confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem and we explored each one. And finally, we began setting our course toward developing it in ourselves, something that each and every one of us is capable of doing, although it is no easy task.

It requires first and foremost, a lot of determination and a very strong desire because it takes time and a genuine commitment to stick with it. It requires self-exploration and self-honesty.

Which brings us to the next step, one in which we have to undo something referred to some as “stinking thinking.” There are a lot of us who can admit to being much harder on ourselves than almost anybody else we know. We can be our own worst critics and sadly, often times, we are. This self-criticism and negative self-talk is the arch enemy to our sense of confidence.

How many times have you accidentally dropped something and that awful, rude little voice inside your head said something like this? “What is wrong with you? You’re so stupid. Clumsy oaf! Can’t you do anything right?” I know I have heard that little voice inside my head say that and worse. Our minds absorb that negative talk; the degrading comments that we make to ourselves, not just the ones others make.

I remember a little book called “What to Say when you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. The title pretty much explains that the book is about the need to think about what we say inside our heads. It was my first exposure to the concept of self-talk and the impact it has. I’ve been a believer ever since.

This is the time to REALLY start to take control of what we say when we talk to ourselves. There are those that swear by positive affirmations and I believe they most certainly are helpful, but by themselves, they are not enough to undo the belief that we are not capable of getting to the finish line.

The only thing that can prove that we are indeed capable of success in our endeavors is success in our endeavors. It is only by creating a bank account of successes that we can draw upon, that can truly give us the sense of “I can that we need to move forward. We have to have a point of reference of things that make us feel capable in order to confront the challenges we face.

The key here is to develop a method that works for you, in which you become more aware of our thoughts. Negative thoughts can very often and very easily go unnoticed unless we make a conscious effort to become aware of them.

And unless we are aware of them, we can do nothing to challenge them or alter them; things we absolutely MUST be able to do if we are to develop confidence. One of the best ways to be more objective and also to become more aware of something (like our thought process) is to track it. Yes, this means write it down.

Person Writing

Person Writing

I am not suggesting that the next time you feel terribly stressed you sit there with a pen and paper, rather, take advantage of how amazing the sense of imagination can be.

Set aside a few moments and think about a situation that makes you feel stressful. IMAGINE it happening and write down as much about your stream of consciousnesses as possible. Become aware of how your individual brain processes negative situations. As you continue to do this over a period of time, you will be able to go back over what you’ve written and determine patterns and decide which thoughts are the ones that are most damaging.



You are now aware of what is going on inside your head…perhaps you begin to bring in past failures you’ve experienced as soon as you begin to feel inadequate when you are faced with a new challenge. (This is something extremely common and does not mean that you need to lock yourself away.) Once you become aware of the way you think and how you feel, you can move onto the next part which is to rethink the situation more rationally.

One of the keys to rational thinking is to keep things in the moment. In our example above, rational thinking would go something like this…”okay, I’m feeling insecure because this is new to me, but it really doesn’t have anything at all to do with…(fill in the blank)”. Thinking rationally helps us to either challenge our negative thoughts or find a way to learn from our experience.

In the next segment, I will discuss how to fight these negative thoughts head on.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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