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Building Self-Confidence:
How to Initiate a Virtuous Cycle

Part 1 of 2

Jeff Griswold

It's no secret that self-confidence is very important to achieving success in any area of life. The thing about self-confidence is that it is very sensitive to our personal experience and is inherently instable. In other words, your self-confidence has a "snowball affect." And it can snowball in a positive direction or it can snowball in a negative direction. Here's how it works:

How the "Negative Snowball" works

  • If you start out with low self-confidence (see below to learn more about how this happens), you're less likely to take on challenges or try new things.
  • On the rare occasion that you try to accomplish something, your low self-confidence can sabotage your efforts and you're much less likely to succeed.
  • Your lack of accomplishment and your failures reinforce your low self-confidence.
  • Then it's back to step 1 and the cycle repeats; limiting your ability to live a better life.

How the "Positive Snowball" works

  • If you have self-confidence, you're more likely to attempt just about anything, so you try more things.
  • And when you attempt something with confidence in your abilities, you're very likely to succeed.
  • As a result, your success increases your self-confidence.
  • Return to step 1 and repeat, and repeat, and repeat until you reach your full potential!

Wearing a Groove in Your Brain
At the risk of over-simplifying a phenomenally complex process, what's happening in your brain is that these snowball cycles "wear a groove" through the vast array of neurons and synapses. So, neurologically you are physically carving a path of least resistance through your brain. With enough reinforcement, you develop a reflex to certain kinds of stimuli. For example, if a smoker tries to quit smoking and fails - and he allows a negative snowball cycle to take place - he'll lose confidence in his ability to quit. And he'll eventually develop a negative reflex to the idea of quitting. Once that happens, if anyone suggests that he quit or someone offers a new way to try to quit, his brain will automatically reject the possibility. In his brain, the mere suggestion of quitting will trigger an impulse that will follow that well-worn path of least resistance; the path that equates "trying to quit" with "failure."

But this works the other way, too. A positive snowball cycle will wear a groove that creates a positive reflex. We've all known people like this. They're the ones who are eager to try anything and seem to succeed at everything. And in the rare occasions when they fail, they are undeterred. The positive reflex they've created in their brain allows them to learn from their mistakes and equate "failure" with "I'll do even better next time!"

How Does the Low Self-Confidence Cycle Start?
Unfortunately, virtually everyone has been programmed from childhood with negatives that make us believe we can't do things that we are innately capable of doing. A lot of it is self-imposed programming. If we fail to do something perfectly the first time we try it, it is only human nature to begin to believe that we can't do it.

We also receive negative programming from others that can greatly impact our self-confidence. We are told repeatedly as a child "You can't do this" or "You'll never be able to do that." If we accept this programming - which, again, is only human nature - our self-confidence is weakened accordingly.

Take a moment now to think back on your own life. Think about the things that you've been led to believe you cannot attain but that you know intellectually are entirely possible. It could be anything; a certain level of income; academic achievement; great athletic performance; success at love, etc. If you're like most people, it won't take long to come up with a sizable list.

Fortunately, when some people are told they can't do something, they refuse to accept that programming and go on to prove that they indeed can. For example:

Beethoven's teacher said he was hopeless as a composer. Thomas Edison's teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything Leo Tolstoy, the author of War & Peace, was told he couldn't learn Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4, didn't read until he was 7. His teacher called him mentally slow. One of the early teachers of the great opera singer Enrico Caruso said he had no voice at all & could not sing.

There are many other examples, but the point is that each and every one of us has given up on at least one thing because we lacked the confidence to try! And the world has undoubtedly been robbed of the great contributions of countless gifted people because of such negativity.

In Part 2 of this report, you'll learn that your self-confidence can be "reprogrammed." You'll learn about the different techniques that have been proven to be very effective and I'll focus on one technique that you can start to use immediately that will instantly begin to help you improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Copyright © 2005 Jeff Griswold, Effective Learning Systems, Inc.

Jeff Griswold is the President of Effective Learning Systems, Inc. (, the leading creator of self-help audio CDs and tapes. To request a free copy of "The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn," a 24-page report showing you how to harness the unlimited power within yourself, go to:

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