5 Myths About Confidence

confidence Jul 01, 2022
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From the TedX speaker who captivates their audience the moment they step on the stage, to the high school athlete who strikes without hesitation, confidence demands to be noticed. This all-but palpable trait is magnetic and mysterious, and it seems to be attached to virtually every high performer and highly successful person.

On the flip side, any coach could tell you how upsetting it is to watch a talented athlete struggle. Not because of lack of ability or effort, but simply because they don’t have confidence.

So today’s question is this: What’s the x factor that makes some people more confident than the rest?

In this blog, we’ll talk about where confidence comes from, the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic confidence, 5 myths about confidence, and the telltale signs of low confidence. Finally, we’ll leave you with free and paid resources to help you and your athletes build real, bulletproof, lifelong confidence that is based on internal belief and self-alignment, not on conditions or fragile ego.


Where Does Confidence Come From?

As a 5’8” Olympic Volleyball player, Courtney Thompson is known for being an underdog and a relentless competitor; she has a fresh perspective on confidence. In her guest blog, she insists that confidence is a practice that can be trained:

“When you train your brain in a way that helps you cultivate confidence, the challenges you face become really fun, and your successful experiences become even richer. The cool part is that your brain is a muscle and you can train it like any other muscle in your body – If you want to build confidence, you can do it with intention, repetition, and with a relentless approach, because change is never easy. In the end, confidence isn’t something that happens to us, it’s something we choose to invest in.”

- Courtney Thompson

It’s common for people to believe that confidence comes as a result of success. But really, confidence is a mindset - which is a good thing because your mindset can be trained.


Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Confidence

There are two main types of confidence, intrinsic and extrinsic confidence. What separates these two categories is their source. Where your confidence comes from will determine if you have intrinsic or extrinsic confidence.

Extrinsic confidence: This type of confidence relies on external factors such as public recognition, praise, and tangible achievements. Extrinsic confidence is fragile because it clings to things that are out of your control, such as the outcome of a game or whether or not someone gives you a compliment. If you have extrinsic confidence, you may struggle with your public image and how other people see you. You may fail to notice little wins because you’re too focused on the scoreboard. That said, extrinsic confidence isn’t a bad thing. It can look like a friend who hypes you up right before a big game, a trophy in your hand, a coach noticing all your hard work. Extrinsic confidence can be a wonderful supplement to intrinsic confidence, but it should never be your sole source of confidence.

Intrinsic confidence: This type of confidence is sometimes called self-confidence. It is built from the inside out and it requires honest self-awareness. It doesn’t rely on external accolades or on recognition or results, but it comes from a deep, inner belief that you are worthy of success and that your innate gifts are more important than the areas in which you lack. To build intrinsic confidence, you have to focus only on what you can control, take intentional action toward your goals, and never base your personal value on external factors. People with intrinsic confidence have a quiet belief in themselves that persists regardless of outcomes.


5 Myths About Confidence

1. Confidence is a result of success. Quite the contrary, actually! Confidence builds your belief that you are worthy of success and that you can achieve it. It’s the gasoline that fuels your success journey. If you rely on success for confidence, you will only ever build extrinsic confidence, which is fragile and fleeting.

2. You have to feel confident to take action. Confident people take action before they feel ready. Why? Because they know that the path to success is uncomfortable. And they know that when given a chance to succeed or fail, they’re likely to surprise themselves (which only reinforces their confidence.)

3. Faking it til you make it doesn’t work. Researchers from Harvard University and Columbia University published a study showing that having confident body language ( holding a ‘power pose’) before performing can actually improve your performance. This and countless other studies have evidenced time and time again that the placebo effect is REAL.

4. Confident people are confident all the time. Confidence is a mindset, not a destination. Your confidence will always be tested. There will never be a point where you achieve eternal confidence and become immune to the ups and downs of life. Confidence does not mean the absence of fear, it means taking action toward your goals regardless of fear or hesitation. You can’t control your confidence, but you can control how you respond to each situation.

5. Some people are just born confident. While factors from your early childhood years may have some influence on your baseline confidence, nobody is simply born confident. Confidence is earned by practicing bravery, confronting challenging situations, and learning to have a positive relationship with failure.


Symptoms of Low Confidence

  1. They are self-deprecating or humiliated when they perform poorly.
  2. They put a heavy focus on the outcome, even if they performed well.
  3. They appear emotionally unstable or even frantic during competition.
  4. They indirectly or directly ask for a lot of positive reinforcement.
  5. They speak negatively about themselves and in absolutes. (i.e. "I just suck at that" or "I always mess that up").
  6. They put their failure on other people, (i.e. “The ref made a bad call”or “I would have made the shot if you had done your job”)
  7. They avoid challenge for fear of failure.
  8. They are afraid to set big goals or any goals at all.
  9. They do not believe in themselves enough.
  10. They are unrealistically hard on themselves.

The good news is, confidence can be trained. So if any of these sound all too familiar, we’ve provided a number of confidence-building resources to help you build intrinsic confidence in yourself and on your team.


How to Build Lasting, Intrinsic Confidence

Do you want to build real, lasting, and impenetrable confidence? Do you want confidence that is based on a growth mindset and positive internal beliefs, not on fragile ego?

The only way to ensure your most confident self-shows up is to actively train your confidence. These resources will help you rewire your mindset to approach all endeavors with true, internal confidence; in sports, school, employment, and life.


Practice Positive Self-Talk

Did you know that you say 50,000 words to yourself EVERY DAY? When used correctly, these words can raise your belief in your abilities and dramatically maximize your performance. But many of us don’t pay all that much attention to our self-talk, so we become victim to it. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to actively train yourself in positive self-talk. It helps rewire your brain so that more and more of those 50,000 words you say to yourself become up lifting.

  • Our free guide, 4 Quick Hits to Confidence is a great introductory tool for positive self-talk. It teaches you about 4 types of self-talk and how to use each one correctly.
  • Mastering Your Self-Talk is our cornerstone full course for confidence building. It helps athletes build true and lasting confidence on a subconscious level so they can find their best performance, on the playing field and off.

Related to the topic of positive self-talk, Positive Performance Insider and Certified Mindset Coach, Amy Holt Oliphant shares how she helps her clients build confidence:

“In terms of confidence, I always tell my athletes that confidence isn't something you wake up with. It is something you do and you do it by focusing on the process and recording daily wins everyday and then doing it again the next day and the next and the next. I have my clients keep a confidence journal where everyday they write down three to five things they did well that day. Then before competitions they look at it and it reminds them of why they are going to perform well and gets then excited.”

- Amy Holt, Founder ofTranscend Mental Training | IG@transcendmentaltraining


Live Like The Person You Want to Be

People with low confidence often feel like a fraud.

  • I’m not a REAL basketball player
  • I’m not as talented as other people
  • Nobody cares what I have to say

But confident people live steadfastly in their truth. They walk the walk and talk the talk. They practice what they preach and believe in who they say they are.

Who are you? What do you want to accomplish with your life? What do you tell people is important to you? Are your actions in line with that?

When you live out of alignment with yourself, you identity becomes fragile, you feel like a fraud, you start to worry about being ‘found out’. But when your actions directly reflect the type of person you want to be, you become proud and more confident in who you are.

Acting like the person you want to be means:

  • Owning your stories
  • Doing things that make you feel powerful
  • Using powerful body language
  • Knowing your superpowers
  • Spending time with high vibration people
  • Spending time alone in silence
  • Starting your day in control
  • Taking care of your body and space

In our blog, 8 Ways to Harness Your Inner Power, we go into greater detail about each of these. This is a super encouraging blog full of nuggets of wisdom, and we highly recommend checking it out!


Visualize a Confident YOU

We compete according to how we see ourselves. When you visualize a more confident YOU, you grow that belief in yourself. When you visualize success, you pave the way for success.

There’s nothing wrong with a friend or coach hyping you up before a game and telling you “you’ve got this!”, but the most powerful way to really drive this home is to look to yourself for inspiration.

Take a moment and think of 5 times you competed at your best. Write them down. Then take a deep breath, close your eyes and replay all seven of those instances in your mind, inviting all 5 senses into your visualization. What do you hear, see, taste, smell, and feel?

When you remember your best, most confident performances, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities and be reminded of your enormous potential.



How are you feeling? Are you ready to get to work and take confidence into your own hands?

This is by no means an extensive list of confidence-building resources, but it should get you started on the right foot.

By knowing where confidence comes from, the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic confidence, myths about confidence, symptoms of low confidence, and a few ways to start building lasting confidence, we hope this blog encourages you and empowers you to build healthy, intrinsic confidence from the ground up, and teach those you influence to do the same.

I’ll leave you with a few fun, Mindset Coach Academy Podcast mini-episodes to listen to whenever you need a confidence boost:

For more on confidence check out our full Confidence Toolbox for coaches and athletes.

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