Confidence is the "secret sauce" of success that many of us wish we had and often envy in those whom we perceive to have it in spades. I believe some of us come into the world with a greater share of natural confidence than others just because we are born with specific temperaments. I believe it is also true, however, that we are all born with natural confidence.
We lose it along the way in our lives because of the various messages that we pick up from others as we navigate childhood and puberty. Related: Overcoming Your Career Fear: Public Speaking If you don't believe that confidence comes with you as part of your natural inborn "package," go to a nearby playground and watch the two and three year old children at play. Watch for just 10 minutes. I then challenge you to find a single child who isn't playing full out. Each is being outrageously authentic and "real," confident in himself or herself. No one is indulging in self-judgment and self-recrimination. They are not only not self-conscious… they are simply and quite naturally uber confident in their abilities to play whatever it is they are playing. Think about it… you never hear a two year old say, after falling for the 100th time in a single day, "Well, that's it for me. I am giving up walking. Look at me! I am no good at it! I just keep falling down. That must mean I'm not meant to walk." Instead, what you see is the child picking himself or herself up time after time after time and forging ahead with all of the confidence inherent in the, “I've got this," attitude. So, what happens to us from the time we are two and three when we believe that we can do anything and the world is our oyster, to believing that we are limited and that other people have something that we don't have but secretly wish we did? What occurs that takes away our belief in our ability to tackle any goal with the confidence that we can achieve it? Generally speaking, there is an event that occurs for each of us around the age of three. We do something that an adult—someone we love and respect—offers a stern rebuke or disapproval of, and it stops us in our tracks. Up until that moment we thought we were perfect! Now, quite suddenly, someone we trust has told us that we are not. We internalize the message, and from that moment on, that negative message about ourselves becomes part of who we believe we are. The messages don't have to be overt, although sometimes they are. You may have actually heard someone tell you that you are ugly, fat, skinny, stupid… and those messages were hurtful and long lasting. Subliminal messages are just as powerful, however. If you are a female who grew up in a particular era, perhaps you picked up on the message that “girls aren't good at math." The messages that are gender specific are prolific in our society. "Big boys don't cry," and "Boys will be boys." Does any of this sound familiar? Middle school is another watershed era in which we learn to define ourselves. We frequently drag the negative self-image that we had of ourselves when we were awkwardly navigating puberty into adulthood where it has no place.