The Complicated Relationship Between Confidence and Memory

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Sometimes the relationship is inverse. Sometimes the relationship is obvious. Needless to say, with the mastery of a few unique memory controls, you can self-teach self-confidence.


  1. Evaporating Memories Sent from the Future

Confident people don’t expend energy worrying about the future in fear of the repercussions their actions will make them feel when recalling the past. Read that again, slowly. Confident people don’t expend energy worrying about the future, in fear of the repercussions their actions will make them feel when recalling the past. Let me explain.

Let’s say we beat ourselves up about any dumb question we ever thought to ask, any concept we assumed we couldn’t understand or any target we knew we couldn’t reach. If we fixate on how our potential misses might make us feel, then we’re actually manifesting future emotion through projected fear.

Visualization is the process of looking forward, powered by hope, unbound by expectation. It is not the creation of imaginary future memories. We have enough to remember. No need to waste energy on memories that have yet to happen.


  1. The Intentionally Poor Short Term Memory

Learn from your mistakes, they say! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Kanye say! And I don’t disagree, but learning from our past only helps grow confidence when we actively apply the lessons we learned. But if our short-term memory interferes with trying a second time, or focusing on what’s next, then how can we create opportunities to use what we learned to our advantage in the future?

The point here is about selectively not remembering your in-the-moment mini failures. Another way to put it? Let’s selectively not entertain feelings of guilt, embarrassment, stupidity, whatever it is, after every time we make the wrong move. Because if we allow ourselves to dwell in the feelings created by our past blunders, then we’re not giving our full attention to the present moment. And if we’re not fully invested in the present moment, then we’re failing to put forth our best self, right now, when it matters most.

When a quarterback throws an interception, does he beat himself up? The great ones do not. He forgets what just happened, moves on and continues to do what he can to help his team win. For us, the game is different, but the strategy remains the same.


  1. Let’s Make Muscle Memories

If you fail, you learn. If you get embarrassed, you grow. If you succeed, you get better. Inactivity creates mental inertia whereas repeated action builds confidence. So the confident people are consistently failing, consistently winning but most importantly, consistently trying. Even if their reputation and self-esteem is at risk.

Have no confidence speaking in front of large groups? Then speak in front of large groups. Repeatedly. Have no confidence in your cooking skills? Then cook. Until you get better. Don’t think you can pull off that outfit? Then just wear it. Own it. And then wear it again.

When you start feeling comfortable feeling uncomfortable, that’s when you know you’re on the right track.


With strictly good intentions,