Confidence is holding you back


“They conquer who believe they can.” -Virgil (Roman Poet)

What does this quote mean to you?

At first glance I thought this quote was about being confident that one can accomplish anything they put their mind to. And that may still be what Virgil meant.

But when I changed my perspective, I got something completely different. If I add a word for context, it will change for you, as well. “They conquer those who believe they can.” Well, that could still go different ways. How about, “They conquer those who believe they can be conquered.” There, that’s more clear.

So now we’re on the other side of a war, where those who are being conquered lack the confidence they need to stand up against their enemy. The war is not won by physical might, but by mental & spiritual strength. Either way we view this quote, though, it comes down to the same word: Confidence.

You’ve experienced doing something with complete confidence (without an ounce of doubt or thought of possible failure) and you succeeded. When I play basketball, my game can be great (making every shot) or it can be a complete disaster (missing every shot) depending entirely on my level of confidence. I get into my head and start analyzing and doubting myself and my abilities. I say things to myself like “well, I haven’t practiced for a while, so I must be off” or “damn it! Why can’t I make a damn shot!” At that point I might as well stop playing because my game is just going to go downhill from there.

But then there are the times when I couldn’t miss a shot to save my life! When everything I shoot goes into the basket! The only difference is what’s going on in my head – how confident I am. It’s so frustrating when I know what the problem is, but still can’t seem to get that confidence back. Have you experienced this too?

Here are some ways you can quickly gain your confidence back:

1) Realize that it’s all in your head. Well, it is!

“Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” -Theodore N. Vail

It’s that voice in your head that’s stating its concerns about your performance and abilities. Quiet that voice, thank it for its concerns, and move on.

2) Have gratitude (for yourself)

If you’re in a funk and don’t seem to have confidence, chances are you’re not acknowledging yourself for all of the work you’ve put in and the abilities you’ve earned. Instead of having the attitude of “C’mon, I’ve worked and worked on this, what’s wrong with me, why can’t I do it?!”, try to have a more productive approach like, “Wow, I’ve done so much work and put in so much time on this, that’s impressive. I know that I have everything I need to be successful. I’m going to be great!”

3) Compliment others

This works for me all the time. To keep with the basketball example, when I’m missing all of my shots I get so heated (pissed off!). That anger is really amplified when the guy I’m guarding is making his shots. But something magical happens when I let that go and genuinely congratulate my opponent on making the shot. Suddenly all of the pressure goes away and I can see clearly again. The point with this step is to stop making everything about you, and get a bit more grounded in reality (and out of your head).

4) Practice

Every time you practice, not only do you build on your skillset, but you also further solidify your confidence in that area. My high school basketball coach had a saying that has stuck with me: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” If you’re going to practice, do it right, and with everything you have.

5) Let go of past mistakes

Holding onto these mistakes is one of the (if not the) main contributors to your lack of confidence. They do not define you, so don’t allow them to. Think about them, learn from them, then let them go to rest.

Did this post help? Let me know what you got from it in the comments section below.

  • Matthew Sadik

    I can definitely relate to this blog. Especially when I’m playing basketball too.
    I have tried complimenting people in the past when I had off days and it
    changes your attitude if the compliment is truly genuine. I like your
    perspective though because it does in fact cause you to stop thinking about
    yourself for a minute and look at others. When you have bad days playing
    basketball and you can’t seem to make a shot, you start to get angry and then
    you worry about the mechanics of your shot and all these thoughts and personal
    doubts enter your mind. Its even worse when you have a trash talker guarding
    you and you continue to miss your shots. Then they believe that they are
    causing you to miss because they’re in your head mentally too, doubting you.
    And on top of that your in your own head as well because your now doubting
    yourself. Man, it’s like, how much room do I have in my head for people to get
    into and doubt me? What happens if that trash talker receives a compliment from
    you? Even if it be that he’s a good trash talker? He would probably be a little
    confused. Maybe if my head was full of confidence during those times then it
    would not be vacant for any doubts. It’s more than basketball, matter fact way
    more, its life. It’s ignorant to think that people do not want to see you fail
    because some do. It’s about your confidence. Even if you do fail, its about
    having the confidence that you will succeed next time; that you will keep
    shooting the ball and you will take another shot. The dictionary explains
    confidence as having belief in your powers with full trust. FULL TRUST. This
    means that if I am 99% sure of myself, then I am still lacking confidence. 1%
    to be exact but imagine what potential that 1% could hold once its in place and
    once it fills to 100%. Now I have to question myself in the things I thought I had
    confidence in. I have to trust myself MORE and be sure in myself More, until I am
    100% sure, or confident. I will learn to be confident in my powers and
    abilities. I will succeed.

    • JeffreyFriend |

      Wow Matthew, thank you for this comment! You have grasped exactly what I was trying to say. Complete confidence leaves no room for anything else other than success. Whether that means making a three pointer to win the basketball game, or writing your masterpiece novel. That confidence can be used in all aspects of life. Even if you’re starting out something new and haven’t made it through the learning curve, have confidence that you will shorten that learning curve as much as possible. Also, have confidence in your mistakes, that’s how we learn.

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