How to Expand Your Circle of Confidence


By Mary Jaksch

Confidence doesn’t happen. We create it. Even though in the past other people may have knocked our confidence, we can change how we feel right now. Here are some trick and tips to show you how to make that change happen.

We can expand our circle of confidence.

Your circle of confidence is what you think you can do. For some people, this circle is very tight and there are only a few aspects of life where they feel confident. For others, the circle of confidence is large and contains many different skills.

Be that as it may, everyone can benefit from enlarging one’s circle of confidence.

A few days ago a friend of mine, Dr. Yashu Wheeler, who is an experienced NLP trainer led me through an interesting exercise to show me what happens when we let go of limiting thoughts. Here is the exercise, step by step:

  1. Stand and  hold your arms out horizontal
  2. Turn to the right as far as you can go
  3. Check the farthest point on the wall you can see to the right
  4. Come back to centre, release your arms and close your eyes
  5. Keep eyes closed and visualize being able to turn further with ease and looking at a point 60cm further than before.
  6. Now open your eyes and repeat the initial exercise

How far are you able to turn this time?

When I repeated the exercise after the visualization, I was amazed to see that I could now see a spot on the wall that was really 60cm further on. And I could turn with ease. My body was suddenly much more flexible.

Just imagine if we applied this method to every aspect of our life!

What holds us back the most are our own critical judgments. All of us have a cutting little voice that tends to whisper nasty things into our ear. Things like, “You’re hopeless!” or, “You’re stupid!”.

Say ‘no’ to your gremlin

Next time you hear your own judgmental thoughts telling you that you’re no good, imagine a little gremlin sitting on your left shoulder. What does it look like? What color is it? Maybe you can imagine it in some way that makes you smile.

Whenever you notice negative self-talk, imagine the gremlin sitting there and say to it firmly, “Not now!” Then carefully wipe it off your shoulder. (To others it’ll look as if you’re brushing lint off your clothes.)

In the following there are some ways to help you to expand your circle of confidence:

  • Find role models
  • The way human beings develop and grow is through following role models. It’s useful to find a role model you want to follow. Keep in mind that if someone is successful in one particular area, it doesn’t make them a saint! Read what they have to say. Your main focus need to be: “He/she did it, and I can do it too!” Remember that all successful people were unknown and unimportant at some point in their life.

  • Use affirmations
  • Affirmations are great tools to change the way we see ourselves. Put stickers on your mirror and in unexpected places, saying “I am getting stronger every day!” Make sure that what you say is believable. “I am the greatest!” may have worked for Cassius Clay, but it may not work for you. Personally, I prefer affirmations that honor growth, like “I am becoming more … every day!”

  • Choose baby steps
  • If you have a grand goal it may seem overwhelming. But every grand goal can be chunked down into small segments. It doesn’t matter how small your steps are, all that matters is that you put one foot in front of the other.

  • Eliminate negative self-talk
  • Everyone of us has a lot more negative self-talk going on then we think we have. Here’s an experiment to prove my point. Get yourself wide a rubber band that fits comfortably around your wrist. Now change that rubber band to the other wrist every time you notice negative self-talk. I was surprised – in the first hour of wearing the wristband, it flew from side to side! And I thought I’m a pretty positive person… You try and see how you go.

  • Get up when you fall
    We all fall down at times. In fact, failure is a built-in factor of success. Getting up after a fall is crucial.  Here’s a  story about falling and getting up:

      A monk looking for some guidance and encouragement goes to Abba Sisoius and asks:
      “What am I to do since I have fallen?”
      The Abba replies: “Get up.”
      “I did get up, but I fell again.”
      “Get up again.”
      “I did, but I must admit that I fell once again. So what should I do?”
      “Do not fall down without getting back up.”
  • When we widen our circle of confidence, we tend to stumble and fall along the way. Just think back to when you learned to ride a bike. Maybe you were a genius at riding a bike. I wasn’t. But I was determined to learn – mainly to get even with my older brother!

  • Celebrate achievements
  • Have you ever been successful? I don’t mean the kind of big successes that others applaud. I mean simple successes. Like, have you ever made a tasty meal? Or have you ever been able to mend something that was broken? Was there a time that you achieved something that seemed impossible to you?

    Did you find it difficult to come up with your successes? I’m sure that if I had asked you about your failures, you would been able to reel them off easily. It’s quite strange how we tend to store memories of failures so well, and tend to forget about successes.

    My suggestion is to make a conscious effort to call to mind times when things went well for you. The more you remember what went well, the better you will do in the future.

  • Associate with positive people
  • Confidence is infectious! If you hang out with people who are positive and can see your potential, it helps you to see your own potential.

The interesting thing is that when our confidence grows in one area, it also infects other areas. It’s like a confidence virus!

Let me give you an example: one of my areas of growing confidence is the technical aspect of blogging (I’m trying to say as positively as possible that I suck at techie stuff). What is really helping me there is – wait for it – cooking. My son Sebastian gave me Jamie Oliver’s cookbook ‘Jamie’s Ministry’ and I’m slowly  working my way through it. The recipe’s are easy and I often invite friends to be try my meals.

The success I have whenever I try one of Jamie’s recipes seems to rub off on my technical ability. Whenever I struggle with a particular technical challenge, I remind myself of my new cooking skills, and I suddenly feel more confident.

Yes, confidence is infectious.

Let’s create a goodlife pandemic: let’s all infect each other with confidence!

You can use the comment section to release the virus 🙂
Photo by mahalie

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  1. I’ve done that exercise before and it’s very interesting. It would be great if we could do it in real life!

    Positively Presents last blog post..walk down a different street

  2. Bobbi says:

    Excellent post. Something I need to be reminded of often, especially the negative self-talk. I also use cooking as a confidence booster. Try making a loaf of bread and then feeding it to family/friends. When you realize you created something that I think of getting only by going to the market, well, I’m still amazed at the process. Thanks for a post that I’ll come back to again.

  3. David Cain says:

    Hi Mary,

    Isn’t that the truth: confidence doesn’t happen, we create it. NLP is very intriguing, I haven’t really looked into it yet.

    I’ll try that exercise when I’m home.


    David Cains last blog post..Get Up, Stand Up

  4. Good advice, another good way to build your confidence is to develop a strong value system, when you know that your actions are congruent with who you are, it allows you to act with more confidence.

  5. Hi Positively Present!
    Yes, I was amazed by this simple exercise.

    I’m experimenting with how to use this in everyday life. One way is to take one area where I feel less than confident and visualise what it would be like to feel a degree of mastery in this area.

  6. Hi Bobbi!
    I was always under the impression that I’m very positive. But I’ve now noticed that I have quite a bit of negative talk about certain areas of my life, like my technical abilities.

    It’s great to notice something like that because when we notice a pattern, we can change it.

  7. Hi David!
    NLP seems to have changed a lot in recent years. I used to think it’s just about techniques to manipulate others. But I’ve changed my tune. It seems to be a strategy that can really change unhelpful patterns.

  8. Hi Cody!
    Ah – that’s an interesting point. I might take that up in a separate post. Thanks for mentioning it.

  9. yashu says:

    Hi Mary, A lovely article. The arm exercise is brilliant… When I learnt it at my 1st NLP training I decided to use it in my daily yoga.. it really works. Writing this here has inspired me to use it with other things… the trick is to do something & see how far one can go.. & then mentally reherse it a few times again..the 1st time go 10cm.. then next 30cm the next 60cm.. imagining each time how easy & smooth it goes whilst one is visualising doing it…I will reherse walking up the 300 steps from the beach several times before walking up them tomorrow.. doing so easily feeling energetic & healthy!

  10. Hi Yashu!
    Let me thank you publicly for that lovely exercise. Also for the fact that on one afternoon you pulled me up – very gently – and pointed out that I tend to say negative things about my technical capability.

    Hey – maybe I should interview you about NLP??

  11. yashu says:

    That would be great Mary. I would love that.

  12. I haven’t done that exercise in a long time. It felt great to do it again.

    I have clients list their successes going back to age 5. It’s amazing how this makes them feel.

  13. Hi Tess!
    Going back to age 5? In that case I should focus on my success of learning to ride a two-wheel bike at age 3.

    After all, I had to keep up with my older brother who – sob – had been given a two-wheel bike on his fifth birthday.

  14. Hi Mary,

    Awesome post and I love all the steps that you listed. Confidence is infectious. There are even two medical studies that prove that by hanging around happy people, your level of happiness will increase. So it is only logical, at least in my mind, that the same is true for confidence.

    Nadia – Happy Lotuss last blog post..The Radio Within

  15. […] This post was Twitted by darrenmonroe – […]

  16. janice says:

    Great tips, Mary! My confidence fluctuates with my dodgy self esteem. (I’m as technologically confident as you!) I love the NLP concept of anchoring. Any time I feel a confidence dip, I remember how I felt when I passed my coach certification. (It was the hardest practical exam I’ve ever done and I was giddy with excitement when I passed after I’d almost given up trying.) Just by remembering those moments, my body relaxes, glows and smiles inside and allows me to visualise overcoming any new challenge. It helps if you do a slight physical anchor, like pressing your thumb and middle finger together while remembering, visualising and feeling the empowering memory. Then, if you need that power again, all you need to do is press those same fingers. The body remembers.

    Hearing that you have confidence challenges gives the rest of us hope – thank you!

    janices last blog post..Silence for the Writing Soul

  17. Hi Janice!
    I like the term “confidence challenges”. It’s actually amazing that confidence can be transmitted from one experience to the next.

    But we tend to focus on what went wrong, instead of on what went well. Good thing we can change!

  18. Another great article Mary!

    I agree very much with the statement that you just have to keep getting up when you fall. Also, positive people are such a huge blessing! It’s so important to have nurturing friends and family.

    I’ve found that sometimes being uncomfortable, unsure, or thinking I can’t do something are signs telling me I should jump in. If someone tells me I can’t do something, then I’m sure I should jump in!

    God Bless

    Chad Prigmores last blog post..To Live is Christ!

  19. Porillion says:

    Hi, Mary,

    Off topic (sort of) but are you on E-Sangha ( I think we would benefit from a Zen teacher there. Just a thought.


    Porillions last blog post..Forthcoming: Change of Design

  20. Sami says:

    Great post Mary – thanks! I’ve found that challenging myself is what has helped me build confidence. One caveat though – no negative self talk regardless of the outcome.

    Samis last blog post..How This Site Going Down Taught Me About Gratitude

  21. Great post, Mary!

    I personally find starting small but doing courage consistently was the most useful to me. And after starting small, gradually moving to bigger, and bigger things…

    Vlad Dolezals last blog post..My Real-World “Yes Man” Experiment

  22. Valerie says:

    I enjoyed this. I am a big believer in Baby Steps. Baby Steps have changed my life and become my mantra. This article has “baby steps” written all over it. Thank you for the encouragement.

  23. Tuomas says:

    Self growth is a wonderful thing. Just recently i started Argentinean Tango to break up some social barriers of mine and the feedback of being a natural talent just after a few hours has worked like a miracle. Also cooking being a passion of mine I fully relate to making good food for good people.

  24. jesse battino says:

    Hello Everyone: Some great and encouraging comments. I have used visualization very effectively in overcoming some anxiety ridden situations. Given that we all have strahghts and weaknesses, the challenge, I think, is to look inward, go through introspecive exercises, and identify those areas where you truly demonstrate a strenght, proficiency, gift, (call it what you will). Then engage in those experiences that you are good at and that bring pleasure.

  25. FAISAL says:

    thanks, its atractive.

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