Gaining self confidence

self confidence at azureDoes taking risks build confidence became too long to add a reflection on my family holiday(vacation) to Gozo. Although I was being critical of the risk taking (see Comments below), I’m not advocating remaining within our comfort zone. In the case of our holiday, the comfort zone was swimming, sun bathing, reading, walking around the local area, eating in the many restaurants. All very pleasant.

But my lasting memory of the holiday is when we crossed the island, by two buses and a long, hot walk, to the Azure Window. Scrambling over some sharp rocks we were able to swim around and under this famous natural rock arch.

We didn’t realize at the time that large rocks frequently fall from the arch, as the Window is expected to collapse through natural erosion over the next few years! In the UK you wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near either the top or bottom of the rock because of the risks. Being oblivious to the danger, the discomfort we had endured made the experience of swimming under this majestic arch all the more magical.

Comments at How to Have Great Self Confidence

There have been some stimulating comments to my last post, with some strong arguments in favor of adventure and risk taking. Comments form a vital part of any blog and sometimes the discussion there is more interesting than the original post. Please leave comments and add to the discussion – not just “interesting post” to get a backlink to your own blog! I will try to respond to all comments.

Any self esteem or confidence questions?

As part of an interview I’m doing, I was recently asked about frequently asked questions to this blog. To be honest, I have received very few questions since I started 17 months ago. So as well as posting comments, if you have any questions about self confidence or self esteem please let me have them. I can use them as topics for future posts. Whatever question you have, you can be sure there are others thinking the same thing. If the question doesn’t relate to a current post, use the contact form to send me an email.

Gaining self confidence

One of my comments to last weeks post stressed the importance of good, supportive instruction and a graduated approach to introducing people to a risky activity. If you are trying to build self confidence participants have got to feel safe.

I came across a great example of this – teaching disabled children to ride bikes. Its worth reading the whole article, but to quote

“Participants start on bikes with back wheels the size and shape of rolling pins, and then gradually move up through a succession of eight progressively thinner wheels.”

Yes, I’m sure if they went the “immersion” route and tried straight off with normal wheels some of the children would succeed. But others would be scared off cycling for life.

The answer is “Dale”

Having been complimentary about my daughters last time and their confidence in going away, my pride has been shattered. The first question they asked on return – not “how are you?”, “what’s been happening here?” – no, we were greeted by “Who was evicted from Big Brother last night…..?”

Evan August 10, 2008 at 11:22 am

OK here’s the big question.

Why not stay within your comfort zone? What’s wrong with being comfortable exactly?

If self-esteem relies on taking risks isn’t it just another insecurity?

David August 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I would argue that for our own development and quality of life we cannot remain permanently within our comfort zone. If we do, we will gradually fill our thinking with regret and frustration for what we’ve missed out on – which in turn will damage our self esteem

As I argued last week, I don’t believe undertaking big, physical risks or challenges is the way to go. But as I describe this week – undergoing a couple of bus rides and a walk in the sun wasn’t exactly risky. We now have a photo similar to the one on this post in our lounge, reminding ourselves of the experience. If we hadn’t made the effort to visit the Azure Window, I would have this nagging feeling that we had missed something.

David’s last blog post..Gaining self confidence

Joe Manausa August 10, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Happy Anniversary David.

A life without risk is a life not lived!

Joe Manausa’s last blog post..Finding The Market Turn

Debt Free or Bust August 10, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Is there a connection between self-esteem and depression? If so, would your elaborate in a post?

Contratulations on your 23rd anniversary!


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Karen (karooch from Scraps of mind) August 10, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Whilst risk for risk’s sake seems stupid to me, I do think we’re becoming unnecessarily protective in our lives. Stepping out of your comfort zone, whatever that it, always gives a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that you don’t get otherwise.
As a society we seem to have a knee jerk reaction whenever someone is hurt doing some activity to shroud it in protection. We can’t live a life in cotton wool. Although as we move more and more to a litigious society, that is what is happening.

Karen (karooch from Scraps of mind)’s last blog post..Scraps of Mind – The Magazine

Kate Saltfleet August 11, 2008 at 8:57 pm

There will always be the area outside the comfort zone which is the development zone. Sure, we can stay in the comfort zone, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with never leaving your own country.

But why wouldn’t you want to discover more of what life has to offer?

Kate Saltfleet’s last blog post..Plant foods for preserving muscle mass

David August 11, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Sherri – thanks for the suggestion, I will answer in a future post.
Karen & Kate – I agree with you both, I think pushing ourselves (however gently) stops us grinding to a halt. I write this having just been out having a swimming lesson from my daughter. I can swim, but have very poor technique. Arriving home from work it needed effort to go ahead with the lesson (which was hard work!!). But I’m not going to improve my swimming without the effort, without doing something a bit uncomfortable.

David’s last blog post..Gaining self confidence

Sid Savara August 14, 2008 at 1:25 am

David, I agree we need to set outside our comfort zone to grow. I wonder if perhaps there are exercises or strategies that you would recommend for some very specific situations (such social anxiety, fear of rejection, etc) that might be useful for people who want to gain self confidence, but perhaps lack direction, and specifics of how to do so? It’s easy to say “Well, step out of your comfort zone!” but perhaps some people would like some specific recommendations (e.g., talk to 5 people a day, etc).

Sid Savara’s last blog post..Are You Really Working – or Just Using Metawork as an Excuse to Avoid Real Work?

David August 15, 2008 at 7:29 am

Sid – I will come back to the specific situations in a future post. But a somewhat simplistic answer to your “which direction” depends on where you want to go. If you lack confidence say in social situations, your comfort zone is to stay at home and watch TV (for example). To step out, you need to look at gradually doing things that involve increasing social interaction.

David’s last blog post..Gaining self confidence

Fendyk August 18, 2008 at 12:05 pm

You have provide a great suggestions. It is helpful for me. Thanks for your valuable ideas.

Fendyk’s last blog post..Pasadena, California

Renita Farrall August 27, 2008 at 3:27 pm

I love the picture. We went to Gozo and saw the arch and had a boat ride there also. It is a beautiful place. Probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my few travels. I did not want to leave there.

Talking about getting out of your comfort zone my husband had to really step out of his when he got in that boat because they did not have life jackets and the sea was rather rough. He was holding on for dear life most of the time out there. I was loving it. It was so beautiful.

Gozo was the island we loved the most over there. Malta was ok, but there was something about Gozo that we loved.

Thanks for the memories.

Jason September 7, 2008 at 1:48 am

Well, I guess it comes back to the way ‘life’ seems to work for us humans in that we are either growing or atrophying (shrivelling-up!). To use the time worn saying that “the only thing constant in life is change” is not just true of our external environment or our physical being. The longer we hold onto anything in our lives (both external and internal), and resist those things (unconsciously or consciously), that might impact, threaten or ‘change’ us, is to remove ourselves from the constant flow of ‘life’.
A less fearful, more objective view of our lives enables us to see risk for what it is – a risk not worth attracting or a risk that will help us grow. We observe the relevant facts presented to us, make a decision, then ‘just do it’ – simple and in the flow! Yes, experience and prior knowledge can guide us in making ‘better’ decisions but there is no substitute for clear understanding and acknowledgement of the facts in the present.
When cycling to work I do not assume drivers have seen me, that pedestrians won’t walk-out in front of me, or a dog won’t decide to chase me. I am mindful and attentive to these risks but have no fear of them and enjoy the thrill of close calls that could have been disastrous if I had relied on my comfort zone and safe assumption. The comfort zone is simply the attachment to what is know which is past and dead. How can anyone learn something new if new things are rejected in favour of the known and how exactly did we learn the known?

David September 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

I read this just before my wife drags me out cycling, so I’m going to be a bit more mindful of the risks! But point well made.

Davids last blog post..How to Deliver a Criticism Sandwich

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