Let’s get right to the heart of it.  When it comes to self confidence, or to be more direct – not having any, it boils down to fear.  Fear of what might happen if a person “fails” in some respect in a certain situation or in front of certain people.

You see, someone who claims to lack self confidence isn’t saying they don’t have any confidence whatsoever, they’re saying they don’t have it in a particular context.  Do you think they lack self confidence when they’re turning on the TV or washing their car?  Of course not, because they know exactly what to do in those situations.  Typically, they lack confidence when trying something new, or in a situation that is of relatively high importance. 

One thing that’s come to fascinate me about people is how hard we are on ourselves.  We can be so forgiving and understanding when it comes to friends or loved ones, but when we ourselves make one little mistake, we say: “I should have known better,” “what the hell was I thinking,” or “I’ll never forgive myself.” 

It’s this intolerance for failure, or for our own imperfections, that paralyzes us when it comes to trying new things.  In an effort to avoid falling flat our our faces, we learn to avoid certain situations altogether.  Now that may be effective from time to time, particularly for situations that don’t come along every day.  But it isn’t as effective when avoiding the situation keeps us from being who we want to be and doing what we want to do. 

It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that there’s a first time for everything.  If you fall down, you get right back up.  Even the most successful people on the planet have “failed” countless times.  Think about how many shots Michael Jordan must have missed during his lifetime.  Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty made “Ishtar” for heaven’s sake.  If these people had taken their failures as a signal that they were inadequate, many people would have missed out on their talents. 

When it comes right down to it, it’s all about belief.  Do you believe in yourself and your ability to succeed?  The reason Michael Jordan didn’t quit at 14 and Hoffman and Beatty went on to make more good films is that they believe in themselves.  They learned from the bad experiences and improved.

You see, there is no “good” or “bad” in the world, there is only experience.  “Good” and “bad” are judgements people make about experiences, but they’re not “real.”  If you view them simply as experiences, and learn all you can learn from each and every one, you’ll be better off in the long run.  You’ll save yourself the trouble of feeling regret and punishing yourself for “failing” when all you really did was the best you could have done based on what you knew at the time.  After all, isn’t that all we can ever expect out of ourselves… to do our best at any given moment?