How to build self-confidence

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD, offers tips for building self-confidence in children and athletes
How To Build Self-Confidence
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How to build self-confidence

Understanding the mechanics of confidence is really a great understanding. And so if we unpack how confidence works it’s really actually pretty simple. Confidence comes from one place and really one place only. Most people believe that confidence comes from past success and that’s not accurate. It comes from what you say to yourself. And so at any given point and time we’re having a conversation, we’re having a dialogue with ourself and if we’re saying things that are beating ourselves up it might get us good, it might. You might get good at something but you might not enjoy who you are when you arrive there. So at any given point in time the dialogue that you have with yourself or with myself that what we’re doing is we’re speaking in ways that either building confidence or destroying confidence. So confidence comes from what you say to yourself and becoming aware and mindful of your inner dialogue is really at the center of being able to grow, to be able to develop, to be able to pursue potential. And it’s a skill that we can teach, it’s a skill that we can develop and if we have a better sense of it we can guide our own minds towards those conversations they build. So when you’re asking people to increase their awareness of their own thoughts, great, now what do we do with it? It makes sense that we want them to guide it towards a positive direction but that’s not always intuitive and easy, once you know, we’re familiar with our own patterns and our mind. And sometimes it really takes a coach to coach how we think to coach properly to adjust our own thoughts. And as a parent, when we hear our children or the athlete’s that we’re working with and we hear how they’re thinking about something and we have a grounded perspective in life. We can recognize it; we can hear that, oh, that’s not a great way to think about something. And we can take a moment and take a beat if you will and help them think about it in a different way. And that’s perspective shifting, it’s giving them a specific way to change or shift the way that they see themselves in the world. Just recently, one of the top draft picks for a team, he comes into the conversation, myself, the athlete and the coach. And the athlete says, okay, so these are my goals for the next year. I want to be the number one position player. And the coach steps back and he says, okay that’s great, I’m glad you think that but that’s not realistic. He goes; you’re actually going to be lucky if you make the team this year. So now there’s this kind of doling of self talk. What is the athlete is going to do with this? And the coach brilliantly steps in and says, I want you to hold on the idea that you could be the number one guy but to get there, there’s very concrete things that I want you to be able to believe in. Here’s the things that I want you to go train and challenge and when you do those things then you’ll have credibility and have to speak to yourself about where you want to go in your life. It’s really clear when people want to go for it that they have a credible way of believing what’s possible and that’s where the self talk comes into place. With a year’s time, this athlete, he moved from what his coach said barely making the team to actually being the number one position on the team. And it’s the testament of hard work and discipline and being able to believe what’s possible and that’s the essence of self talk.

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD, offers tips for building self-confidence in children and athletes


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Michael Gervais, PhD

High Performance Psychologist

Dr. Michael Gervais, a licensed psychologist and industry visionary, is a founding partner of Pinnacle Performance Center. He focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game," from NBA players, to Olympians, to military personnel. Dr. Gervais has a clear understanding of how performers become and consistently excel at a world-class level. Spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, Dr. Gervais has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to "thrive under pressure."

Dr. Gervais is a published, peer-reviewed author and a nationally recognized speaker on issues related to high performance for those who excel on the largest stages in the world.

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