Fear, Stress, Confidence and the Battle for Your Mind

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Some years ago, one of my siblings was convicted and sent to prison where he served two years’ time. I went to visit him frequently, but I have to tell you … nothing you see on TV or in the movies can prepare you for what it’s really like in there. And even though I got to talk to my brother … on the telephone … with a glass wall separating us … I experienced a tremendous sense of separation, depression, and helplessness.

Today there are millions of people in this country and around the world experiencing the same feelings. Whether it’s the COVID pandemic, the economic fallout, the rising rate of crime, or the increased mental illnesses at home, fear and stress have got lots of people locked up in the prison of fear and stress.

They’ve lost their confidence. And that’s very dangerous. As lexicographer Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste (1765-1824) wrote, “He who has lost confidence can lose nothing else.” In other words, you’ve hit bottom. You’ve lost it all.

To win the battle for your mind, this is what you need to do.

► 1. Recognize the power of Steadfast Confidence.

Psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley wrote in his book, The Seeds of Greatness, “If you believe you can, you probably can. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.”

And Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian Nationalist leader, freed his entire country because he understood the power of confidence. He said, “If I shall have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

Of course, you may agree with the super power of confidence but aren’t sure how to get it. One option is to join my live, virtual, 5-week class, The Champion Edge Master Class starting on September 3.

► 2. Act with confidence.

One of the most basic, reliable facts in psychology is the act-as-if principle. If you start to act a certain way, you will begin to feel and be that way.

Coach Barbara Pachter says, “If you act confidently, others will perceive you that way (even if that’s not how you feel on the inside). Eventually you will feel more confident and the inside will match the outside.”

So begin to walk and talk with confidence, whether or not you feel like it.

Just to be clear. I’m not suggesting that you try to be somebody else. That would be a put down on yourself. As entertainer Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914) pointed out, “Unless we learn the lesson of self-appreciation and practice it, we shall spend our lives imitating other people and deprecating ourselves.”

All I’m saying is that you need to behave as though you have the confidence you desire. Eventually, that’s who you will become … a confident human being.

► 3. Think more confident thoughts.

These are tough times. No question about it. But some people are losing the battle for their minds because they’re constantly thinking such things as “I’m so stressed out … I can’t take much more of this … I don’t know what I’m going to do … What if I get COVID … What if I lose my job … What if a certain candidate wins the election” and so on.

If that sounds like you, STOP IT! Fear and stress are taking over. You’re losing the battle for your mind. Every one of those thoughts destroys another piece of your confidence.

Instead, start thinking more of these thoughts. “I am confident … I can handle this … I’ve gotten through tough times in the past and I can get through this …” and so forth. They will help you build the confidence you need to keep on keeping on.

Dr. Walter Doyle Staples, a human potential expert, explained the process this way:

  • When you change your thinking,
  • You change your beliefs.
  • When you change your beliefs,
  • You change your expectations
  • When you change your expectations,
  • You change your attitude.
  • When you change your attitude,
  • You change your behavior.
  • When you change your behavior,
  • You change your performance.
  • When you change your performance,
  • You change your life!

► 4. Look for and document the positive.

Otherwise, you can feel like the comedy writer Robert Orben who said, “Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that’s not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.”

That’s why you may need to look for and document the positive things that can fortify your confidence in the midst of this battle for your mind. 

One of my students, Jill Weston from the Mayo Clinic took my technique to heart, with wonderful results. She wrote, “There was such negativity and ungratefulness in my home that I knew I had to do something different or else die trying. I decided to start a gratitude journal with my children. Each night I asked each one of my kids to spend two minutes with me and fill out a piece of paper that asked them to list at least one thing they were good at … or liked doing … or one thing they did to help someone else that day … and then list one thing they were grateful for. It was amazing what happened.”

“After a few weeks,” Jill continued, “self-esteem sky rocketed because my children were seeing and affirming the goodness that each one of them possessed. The contention in the home lessened and we all felt more thankful for the blessings in our lives which brought more peace and happiness to our home and our lives.”

Final Thought: There’s a battle going on for your mind. Fear and stress are trying to take control, but you win when your mind is filled with Steadfast Confidence.