CONFIDENCE: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.
Definitions are reminders to us of the real meaning of a word – not the meaning that others have applied to it, or meanings that have formed in our head over time from up and down experience. The thing that sticks out to me about this definition of confidence is that it only has 1 pronoun in it, “you.” The true definition of confidence has nothing to do with other people who surround us or statistics on a sheet of paper. The only place that confidence comes is from inside YOU. Yes, you. Our confidence belongs to us, no one else. Every morning we wake up we have a choice at how we are going to believe in ourselves. Too easily we forget, especially when we are in the middle of a whirlwind of a season, that every day we wake up is a new day, and you have a choice every morning if and how you are going to believe in yourself. You own that belief. No one else does.
In my opinion, a “belief” is stronger than a “feeling.” It’s one thing to feel like you are confident (a feeling can vary from day to day, can be short term), but it’s another thing to believe you are confident (a belief can control your inner thoughts for the rest of your life, can be long term). It’s important to not let those down feelings that we get on some days in our life to snowball into a belief that we are no longer worthy or no longer confident in ourselves. A feeling can just be a feeling – a single act, a one time thing. A belief runs deeper.
A belief runs down through your inner core that no matter what has happened in a game earlier that day or yesterday, that you know deep down, without listening to what anybody else has to say, that you are meant to do great things. Because you are. We all are.
In sports, we are never ever in a million years going to be perfect. Let me repeat, we are never going to be perfect. In fact, we are all perfectly imperfect. And in a game of failure like the game of softball, it’s going to challenge us to our max to dig deep in our own thoughts and mind, and believe that there is a confident athlete on the inside, at all times no matter what.
Remember, don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Unrealistic expectations get in the way of our belief. It’s unrealistic that you’re going to go 4 for 4 every game or throw a 7-inning shutout every time you take the field. If we make this an expectation, then we can only let ourselves down, because we won’t ever be perfect. On top of that, we usually judge the outcome when we don’t meet the expectations we have set. The important thing to remember is not to judge the result. When we judge, we feel like we are letting ourselves down and others down, and then we stay down feeling like we failed. It creates negativity in our mind to where we might not be as productive the next time. Instead of judging, recognize instead what you did wrong – don’t attach a feeling or an emotion to the outcome. By recognizing what you did wrong, you can still keep the belief of confidence inside of you, and have a high chance of making adjustments. This is something that must be practiced and become routine.
Play bigger than a feeling. Play with a belief that others might not be able to understand.
When you step out onto the field or into the batter’s box, you can’t go out there hoping that you don’t mess up and being scared to make a mistake. If you think this way, you’ll play tight and you might get lucky throughout the game, but the game won’t come as easy and won’t be as fun. Realize you are thinking this way. Don’t judge it. Just notice it, and change your thoughts. Understand when you think this way, that not only do you give yourself the impression that you’re scared, you give others the impression that you are scared (coaches, parents, fans, opposing team). That helps give others the upperhand.
I remember taking the field and trying to have the mindset, “I get to show the other team and the fans how good I am.” This wasn’t to put pressure on myself and it surely wasn’t to be cocky (if you know me, you know I am far from it). It was because I loved to play this game, and I believed in my preparation and how FUN the game can be when you really let your negative thoughts go, and you play like you really believe in yourself. “I can’t wait to show them how much I’ve worked on my pitch selection.” ” I get to show that other team how much my change up has improved since last season.”
The thing that I chose to believe in was my preparation and hard work, more than any negative outcome that tried to take that belief from me.
Unfortunately in this world, others put their unrealistic expectations on us, watching us, thinking we are supposed to play perfect. Other people around us may second-guess our physical talent or second-guess decisions that we make. A lot of times, it’s parents questioning playing time or coaching decisions. Go back to the definition of confidence. It didn’t say “they” or “he” or “she.” The only thing it said was “you.” Because if YOU believe, then “they”, “he” and “she” don’t have any choice other than to believe in you, too.
Remember, it comes from a belief, not just a feeling.
It doesn’t matter what others think – it matters what you think and the belief that you truly feel deep down about your own self and your own abilities every day you wake up. That belief can feel quite liberating and can be used as a shield towards what anyone else has to say.
I know it can be hard to push what others say away. At the end of the day, remember that other people’s opinions are never greater than the belief that you have in yourself. But here’s the thing: YOU must believe you are worthy to be out there and believe in your preparation. Believe it deep down. Don’t let others take away from your own belief – your beliefs are some of the strongest things you own on any given day.
When you take the field or look at yourself in the mirror, YOU must be the one to believe that YOU are meant to do great things. YOU get to show everyone what you are made of and your love for the game.
“To live is rarest thing in the world – most people just exist.” To truly believe is to live. When you let others or outcomes dictate your confidence, you are just existing. Every day, when you wake up, make a commitment you are going to believe in yourself unconditionally, and you get to show the world (including yourself) that you are meant to do great things.