I was a confident kid growing up.
I remember one sunny day in primary school, I must have been only 7 or 8 years old, I was making a few of my peers laugh. I can't remember exactly what I was doing, a bit of a song and dance I think.
Anyways, my teacher angrily walked over to see where all the commotion was coming from. Glaring down at me she regrettably asked, 'William! I don't suppose you wish to show your little performance to the WHOLE Class do you'. I imagine Miss Clack had expected me to respond with a 'No, Miss' as my pale cheeks flushed red. I very much doubt she thought I'd take her up on her offer. But I did. A few moments later and the whole room, including Miss Clack, erupted in laughter, rolling around in stitches.
The impromptu class comedy performances stopped in Secondary School but I stayed connected with my confidence, I'd often be asked to play piano in assembly, performing in front of a couple of hundred students, something I found easy and enjoyed.
Skip forward to my late teens/early twenties and life looked very different. OK, that's not accurate. Life felt very different. To the outside world, I was the same, happy go lucky, happy, confident Will.
Inside my head, I was riddled with insecurity, battling alone with an anxious mind. My confidence took a hell of hit once I left Secondary School as I found myself lost in the real world, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.
I had interests but Career Plans? No. I passed on going to University, I didn't fancy the debt and no subject tickled my pickle enough that I wanted to spend the next 3 years of my life studying it. This uncertainty of not knowing what I was doing with my life, caused me to doubt myself. I took up a course in College but my heart was never in it. It wasn't long until my lack of confidence affected my self-esteem, this spilt into other areas of my life, including romantic relationships. I put on weight and would binge drink and smoke several times a week.
I lived like this for some time, and I hated it. Worst still, I began to hate myself.
I decided one day enough was enough and set out to deal with my lack of Confidence. One Sunday morning; very hung over, I staggered into Waterstones (A book shop for you readers outside of the UK). I found myself standing in the Self-help section. My eyes scanned the shelves for a book called 'The Game' on the recommendation of a friend. 'The Game- the secret life of pick-up artists', is a book written by Neil Strauss. I found the book and purchased it. 'The Game' was an interesting read, I quickly consumed it, learning tips and tricks on communication, body language and of course, how to pick up women. I've always been interested in Psychology so my favourite parts were the analysis. I learned there was a Second book titled 'How to play the Game'.
Now, this book was a game changer for me. Want to know the funny thing? I never finished reading it, I only read the first few pages...
The book was a game changer because it introduced me to a strategy that helped to connect me with my Confidence again...
Within the pages of How to play the Game, there was a Strategy that helped me to reconnect with my Confidence again. It was simple, fun and led to lasting results.
The Strategy? Daily Challenges.
The idea was simply this, each day I had to complete a Challenge. I think the book had 30 days of challenges to complete, Truth be told, I only completed the first few challenges that went like this:
Day 1: Make eye contact with a complete stranger.
For many people, making eye contact with people, even strangers is natural and painless. For the rest, the reality is eye contact is awkward and completely unnatural. When I completed this task back in 2011, eye-contact was something I was comfortable with. Nevertheless, I set about to complete my challenge for the day. Purposely make more eye contact felt great, in fact, I felt more connected with people. I ended the day with a smile on my face knowing I'd completed the first challenge...
Day 2: Smile at strangers.
I set off to work, on the way, making a point of looking up to greet strangers with a smile as we walked past each other. Responses varied- people ignored me, people glanced over their shoulders expecting I was smiling at someone else, others purely returned the smile. It didn't matter. What mattered was I was taking steps out of my comfort zone and completing the challenge.
Day 3: Make small-talk with a stranger.
I remember completing this challenge the most vividly because this was one I was scared about.
It's funny to notice the stories we tell ourselves when completing a challenging task. All I had to do was talk with a stranger, we could talk about ANYTHING. My mind was very busy in the lead up to this one. What if people ignore me? What if people think I'm hitting on them? I walked to the local Supermarket to buy a few bits and decided to spark up a conversation with an older lady queuing in front of me. 'Nice weather we're having', I said as I unloaded my basket onto the conveyor belt.
We British do love to talk about the Weather!
She smiled warmly back at me.
I really enjoyed the 2 minutes we spent speaking together.
Instead of completing the proceeding challenges in the Book, I made the decision to create my own. After all, the book was about picking up women, and I had no intention of becoming a pick-up artist.
Each day was different but very soon I was doing things I never thought I was able to do. It was scary, but I used the confidence gained from the previous day's challenge to propel me forward.
The scariest challenge I completed was to lie down on my back for 30 seconds, in the middle of a town center. I was literally shaking with fright. We've been so conditioned with what behaviour is 'acceptable' in public. If you ever need to overcome the fear of what other people think of you, lie down on the street in a public place!
You'll soon learn this: most people are far too busy stuck in their own heads to stop and care about what you're doing laying on the ground.
How do I know this? Whilst I was laying on the ground, the majority of people walked straight past me. A few people asked if I was OK. A few smiled, perhaps thinking I was crazy.
Daily challenges are a powerful way of connecting with your confidence because they give you permission to behave differently. Through behaving differently, you're changing the story you have about yourself. For example, 'I'm not the sort of person who is comfortable talking to strangers' becomes 'I talk to strangers comfortably' because you have evidence to back it up.
Thank you for reading,
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