The Meaning of Confidence

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In response to his coach’s demand that he be more productive, the athlete responded “sometimes I feel confident and then there are other times when I don’t.” Is confidence that elusive that it can come and go like a mysterious ghost? What is it that underlies a sense of confidence? How can we become confident on a more consistent basis? What gets in the way of confidence or makes it disappear? What is the secret of bringing it back?

These are all good questions that I’ll attempt to answer in this piece. First of all, let me try to define the concept: Confidence is believing in yourself. That’s simple enough and probably everyone might agree with that definition.  However, I want to add something to that partial definition: “…and believing that what you believe is TRUE!Now, there’s the rub. Many times we might have the sense of believing in ourselves but what we believe isn’t really true. In other words, it’s a sense of false confidence which can lead us far astray from the reality of what it is that we’re attempting to accomplish. It results in expectations that exceed our realistic ability to have those expectations met.

So now we know that our confidence levels are tied into our expectations of ourselves and how realistic those might be will determine the degree to which we’re able to hang onto that sense of confidence. But how do we develop real, true self-confidence?  Basically, confidence is derived from our life experiences … the experiences that we have from doing things on a consistent repetitive basis. Let’s take learning a sport or how to crochet. Initially, the process may be difficult because we do not yet know the basic elements necessary in order to proceed and need for them to be committed to our conscious memory.

However, as our patience allows us to stick with performing each step until we’ve mastered it, the process will eventually come to the point where we now have the knowledge to claim victory. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ve become experts. It will take our repeating our conscious attempts until they become  automatic and committed to our unconscious mind and memory. Now, we’ve mastered the process but continued practice will, of course, improve our performance. If you’ve ever watched a professional athlete or an accomplished crotchetier perform with a true sense of consistency, there is very little hesitation about what needs to do next in order to perform with excellence.

Does this mean that confident people don’t make mistakes or sometimes fail at achieving their goals? No, of course not because although confident they are not like programmed robots. They are human! However, their making a mistake allows them to rebound and “get back on track” because of the unconscious knowledge that they’ve attained. Indeed, that sense of confidence is such that they can call upon it time-after-time in order to bring their performance to a peak level. An example might be the process of visualization that athletes use in order to pre-determine what it is that they want to achieve. For instance, golfers can visualize the shot that needs to be made both in terms of generally where they want the ball to land as well as recalling the successful times that the shot had been performed in the past. Doing so brings back all of the good feelings of confidence that this shot will repeat that success. And so it goes. Confidence is not only able to be gained through experience but then those confident experiences can be translated into becoming a tool that can result in repeating success over-and-over again.


Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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