Fear and confidence can be looked upon as being opposite ends of a continuum or scale. On one end is fear which is characterized by worry, pessimism, depression, uncertainty, dullness, and weakness. On the opposite end of the continuum we have confidence, characterized by faith, optimism, conviction, passion, and strength (see table of characterizations here).

Throughout my life I have conquered fear and moved progressively towards the confidence end of the continuum. At one time I had a fear of talking to others, not just on public speaking occasions, but in one-on-one situations. I feared rejection and being embarrassed.

I have an accent that has been characterized as British, Australian, or a German speaking English. I don’t know how I developed this accent as I was born and raised in California by native born parents; closest thing I ever came to was my grandmother’s French accent. 

Growing up I was told that I had a speech impediment and I was sent to see specialists. Fellow kids made fun of me. As an adult my face would redden with embarrassment if someone asked me if I was from England. Eventually I accepted my accent as a part of the unique character that I am.

My fear of talking to others decreased with study, practice, and successes (which helped change my belief system).  One technique I used was the ABCDE process where limiting beliefs are challenged and replaced with constructive beliefs (read more about the ABCDE process here).

Another effective technique for overcoming fear is the belief that you are control. In academic terms it’s known as the Locus of control (Locus is Latin for location). There are four factors that determine control: Is it controllable or uncontrollable? Is it outside ourselves or inside? (See table below.)
OUTSIDE INSIDE
UNCONTROLLABLE e.g., Actions of another e.g., Neurological disorder
CONTROLLABLE e.g., Driving a car e.g., Our own thoughts and actions
If we see something as being uncontrollable and outside ourselves then we feel helpless, hopeless, and fearful. If we see something as being controllable and inside ourselves then we feel empowered, strong, and confident. 

As a Buddhist I believe that I am part of a greater, omniscient power. The Buddhist analogy is that this power is an ocean and an individual is a drop of water in this ocean—the two are inseparable. This belief of being part of a limitless power gives me great confidence. Compare that concept to one where people feel that power lies outside themselves and is uncontrollable, such as with an indifferent god or ruthless dictator.

I am not saying that I feel as if I am a god or that I am all powerful—that would be foolish and insane. But I do feel that I have the ability to affect change. One way is through prayer. It’s been said that you’re prayers are always answered, but sometimes the answer is “No.” We may want something, but the greater, wiser power sees that we are not ready or has something better planned for us.

Another great technique for overcoming fear and gaining confidence is to act as if you ARE confident. Just like an actor in a movie, play the part of a confident person. How does a confident person act? They stand up tall and straight; they talk clearly and loudly; they walk with purpose. Who’s the most confident person that you know? Act like them, pretend that you are them.

Your sense of power and confidence will grow with study, faith, and practice (also the three fundamentals of Buddhist practice). Study techniques such as the ABCDE process that teach you how to change your limiting beliefs. Gain faith in yourself and your abilities by going out and trying the things you have learned; each success will make you stronger and each failure will make you wiser. “Practice” is just going out and doing it, trying things out, and experiencing life.

I am confident that you can change because I have changed. Human history is full of examples of people who have overcome great obstacles to become great successes.
 





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