When I was in school, I was the most confident girl you can find. I walk like I am the best girl to ever exist on Earth, with the full realization that I’m not, but still enjoying the feeling. Fairly, this comes easy, as I am the same girl who always excel in class, in her studies, in exams, and what not. I mean, when you achieve more, you become more confident as well, right?
It was not until I go into university that I struggled a lot with social anxiety. Something simple such as saying hi to strangers is dreaded to me. I ignore and hurt a lot of people in the process. I was a failure at my social life; the aspect of life that is among the crucial ones in young adulthood. My confidence plummeted to the point.
How did I change so drastically?
Well, because my confidence is reliant only on my achievements. I didn’t realize that confidence is a state of mind and heart that can be achieved regardless of what I’m good at or what I fail at. And one thing that I need to do to gain that state, is to own my mistakes just like how I would embrace my successes.
So here is how I own my mistakes to gain my confidence back.
Owning my mistakes helps me to stay in a winning cycle and avoid the losing cycle.
I’m not sure if there is any similar theory or terminology in psychology (let me know if there is), but I definitely coined this term up.
Listen, you will fail at some point if you take proper, well-considered risks. However, because they are acceptable and well-thought out in the first place, you will win the majority of the time. If you fail, you will learn from it and move on to take more risks. As a result, you’ll be faced with more risks to take, which means you’ll have more chances to succeed. This encourages you to take more risks. This is the winning cycle.
However, if one of those risks takes an unforeseen turn and results in a massive failure that hurts you emotionally, you will lower your risk-taking behaviour. This is understandable from a survival standpoint. However, as a result, you will take fewer suitable, well-considered risks, and as a result, you will have less success. This is the losing cycle.
“Less success? That’s okay, right? It’s not our aim to win all the time anyway. It’s okay to be constant, right?”
Yes. But as you progress in life, your situation will become increasingly complex. And your development depends on how your failures strengthen you. Hence, if you choose not to develop together as you progress through life, you will not actually become constant. You will actually degrade. It’s only a matter of time before you shrink in life, overwhelmed with larger, more serious difficulties.
Life is, indeed, dangerous. It is definitely reasonable to be depressed, shocked, and terrified after such a major setback. However, you must learn from your mistakes, move on, and keep up your proper risk-taking behaviour. If not, you’re setting yourself up for even more mistakes.
It’s not a choice. It’s a must.
Owning my mistakes helps me see the bigger picture.
I will always screw things up. I am young and stupid; I’ll definitely going to screw up some things. And even when I get older, I will be more out of touch from the world, making me to tend to make mistakes. Either way, I’ll always encounter points of failure in my life.
But I know that what is important, is my attitude towards my failures. I do not have to get overwhelmed and caught in a mistake that I make, because I am living a life where I will continuously make mistakes. I can choose to learn, to forgive myself, and move on.
Even if I screw up every moment, my attitude of acknowledging and learning from my failures will make me bearable. That is where the confidence towards life comes from, despite my mistakes. With that being said, it is almost impossible for anyone to screw up at every moment. Thus, with the attitude, I will not only decrease my failures, but may be even rack up more achievements that I thought I can.
Additionally, the worst mistakes happen the rarest, and most of the time, it’s not as bad as you think. And there will always be mechanisms and systems in-built to support and compensate for the mistakes. For example, if you make mistakes at work, regardless of the severity, simply follow the SOP, and you employers, authorities (if needed) and other co-workers will make up for it. You job at the moment is to learn from your mistakes.
That is the bigger picture; I will always screw up, and there will always be ways to compensate them. Therefore, the healthiest thing to do, is to learn from it, and move on. If I have that mindset, I will always have confidence in everything that I do.
Owning my mistakes increases my self-compassion.
Both of the previous points are important, yes.
But let’s face it; failures hurt.
“What? There’s no ‘failure’ in my dictionary, only the word ‘opportunity!”
Don’t lie to yourself. Romanticizing failure too much, is not healthy. Failure exists, and it sucks, especially emotionally. And when it happens, you can be too emotionally overwhelmed to even learn anything at the moment, let alone apply those two points.
So before anything else, put your hand at your heart, and say it warmly, “I love myself.”
You may be filled with flaws you wish to not exist within you. You may encounter mistakes after mistakes after such tremendous efforts to avoid them. And it hurts. But when you establish your love for yourself in the first place, you have that assurance that you are trying your best anyways, despite your flaws and failures. And you give yourself permission to grieve, to feel sad and mad towards your failures. And you will continue to love yourself even in doing do.
That is the first step needed to be fulfilled before building confidence. How can you build confidence in yourself if you don’t love yourself first, right?
So there you have it, on how owning my mistakes helped me to become more confident.
It’s easy to win a lot of things at the easy mode of a game. It’s when you get to the hard mode that you’re being tested.
Like I said in the beginning, it took me a while to realize that I can be just as confident as my own self, regardless of what I achieve or fail at. With that being said, it is harder to instill confidence in yourself when you’re failing instead of winning, thus the level may be lower as well. But it does not mean that it is totally impossible. See the bigger picture to keep yourself in the winning cycle, and love yourself in the process.
All the best!