Confidence Is Counterintuitive

For the vast majority of people confidence is counterintuitive…contrary to their human nature. Yes, each of us is confident in some aspects of our lives. We’re confident in areas in which we have natural ability or significant familiarity. But in virtually all other aspects of our lives we not only lack confidence, we experience fear and anxiety.

Who among us, when faced with a new situation, hasn’t at least doubted our ability to deal with it effectively. More often than not, these doubts rise to the level of anxiety if not outright fear. These are natural tendencies we all possess by virtue of our humanity.

Fortunately, we have the ability to train ourselves to be more confident. But that requires us to overcome our natural instinct to doubt our abilities. Let’s explore how we can accomplish this task.

Counterintuitive thinking

Neuroscientists have proven that we possess the power to retrain our brains to think differently. Some claim that it becomes more difficult as we age. That may be true, but my experience is that it’s the level of desire for change, not age, that dictates our success in this and any other endeavor. By the way, at age 71, I am frequently confronted with new information that alters my thinking. Then again, I am an avid learner.

So how do we go about retraining our brains to be more confident. Given that I’ve written slightly over 300 pages on the topic in my books on confidence, in this limited space I’m going to share just a few examples that will enable you to prove to yourself that you can retrain your brain.

Example 1

Natural tendency

Intuitively we believe that background and experience are indicators of our ability to succeed in a given situation.

Counterintuitive thinking

The reality is that our success depends solely on our ability to learn and adapt. If you doubt that answer this question “When in your life have you faced a situation in which you’ve had no background or experience and failed to produce a positive result?”

That doesn’t mean that you found the solution on the first attempt or that you may have found an even better solution later, all this question is asking is “When have you failed to deal with any situation you’ve faced?” The answer is ‘never.’

Example 2

Natural tendency

Intuitively we fear failure. Yet, as we’ve just discovered we’ve never failed.

Counterintuitive thinking

Here’s a 2-part definition of success that assures you’ll never fail:

  1. In your dealings with others, offer them options which are acceptable to you including a ‘no.’ If they choose anything other than no, you get what you want…you win. If they choose no, they save you time and energy…you still win.
  2. When presented with opportunities that intrigue you pursue them. If they work as hoped, you win. If they don’t but you learned something, you still win.

Example 3

Natural tendency

Intuitively we fear competition. We have a scarcity mentality so we view competition as a win/lose proposition. Somebody wins, somebody loses.

Counterintuitive thinking

Regardless of how good we get at what we do, there will always be someone who is better at some aspect than we are. As a result, our ‘competitors’ are really potential teachers. If we pay attention to what they’re doing we can improve our our personal best…which, in reality, is our only true competitor.

For you

The key to developing a counterintuitive mindset is to question everything. When your intuition tells you one thing, ask “Is that true? In which situations might that not hold true?”

You also know from personal experience that the solution to a problem is often not what you expected. Indeed, the solution is often much simpler than you envisioned. The more frequently that you adopt the habit of challenging your intuition, the more quickly you’ll develop a counterintuitive thought process.

As you become adept at counterintuitive thinking, you’ll hear others say to you:

  • You look at the world differently than other people do.
  • You don’t think like other people do.
  • You see things others don’t see.
  • Yet what you say makes perfect sense.

As a result you’ll gain tremendous influence and open the door to countless opportunities for yourself. A nice return on your effort in retraining your brain.

For our kids

Challenge your kids to reevaluate their beliefs…their intuition. As they discover that their initial thoughts are often mistaken, they’ll develop the habit of challenging what they see and hear. In doing so, they develop the skill of counterintuitive thinking and gain the benefits it affords.

I love your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comment below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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