Most people believe that self confidence comes from being good at something, from success, from experience, or from already possessing the skills to do what you do at the highest level. Actors suffer horribly from self-doubt, and in this post, I want to help you discover just how simple it is to start building your self confidence today.
But what is self confidence? Where does it come from? And what’s the #1 secret to building self confidence for actors?
Self confidence really comes from how you see yourself. It’s created by the inner dialogue, the narrative, the self talk of your thoughts. You behave in line with how you see yourself. You tend to believe your own thoughts, and those thoughts turn to beliefs and those beliefs in turn transform into your reality. The things we think become true for us and affect our behaviour.
The thoughts that we lay down in our minds, become the tracks we live our lives upon, and as actors, those tracks guide our career, and our performance, and all the choices we make. If we want to build self-confidence, it is at this constructional stage in our thinking that we must BUILD a different narrative.
It’s pretty hard to have strong faith in yourself and self confidence in your performance, if your self talk is negative, highly critical or constantly reminding you of your failures, or what you have to lose.
So self confidence comes from being able to listen to this inner dialogue and to separate out the thoughts of this inner narrative and to decide which of it is helpful, which is damaging and which is just plain old self-sabotage.
The #1 secret to building self confidence is to change the story you are telling yourself. Now sometimes that’s not possible alone. Sometimes you do need a coach, or a teacher, a friend, someone else with an objective perspective to hear your thoughts and perhaps persuade you that the way you are thinking is filling you with self-doubt and damaging your self-confidence.
When a coach does this, they will listen carefully to the reality that you’ve built up for yourself around your self-talk and then they will offer you an alternative. This may create competing kinds of self-talk between your inner critic who was perhaps giving you a very negative way of seeing things, and the new way that your coach has given you. This could be a situation where you did poorly in an audition and you came back and talked it through with your coach and you’re losing confidence because you should be nailing these auditions but you’re not. And your coach may really have to offer an image of your progress that is non-judgmental, but may be hard to hear. Maybe there are things that you need to tackle that you’ve been avoiding, maybe you’ve been self-sabotaging around things you find difficult.
We all talk to ourselves in our head. But most of the problem with a lack of self confidence comes from those conversations. If we can change those conversations, we can build self confidence, if we do not change them, we become the victim of our own negative self talk.
If you don’t have a coach, you will have tackle this for yourself. This starts with simply acknowledging that there is a negative voice in your head, an inner critic, whose words aren’t helpful (notice it never criticises itself) or objectively true. So listening to your inner dialogue, you should ignore any narrative that isn’t objective. And start attempting to see things objectively. It is what it is. Without judgment, we can see that clearly. Non judgmental self awareness is the key to developing self confidence because you can begin listening to what is helpful and blocking out what is not.
The key to developing your self confidence is to listen carefully to your inner narrative, and to begin to learn to talk to yourself, with yourself in a non-judgmental way. It doesn’t mean you can avoid criticism, feedback is healthy, but by seeing things for how they are, you will soon remove blockages to your self confidence and build the self confidence you need to perform at your peak potential.
To You, The Best
Mark Westbrook is the Head Coach and Studio Director at Acting Coach Scotland