The ABC’s of being confident

I was never a confident person.

If I had a crush on a woman, I’d always wish that I could be confident enough to go up to her and just start talking to her. I could never bring myself to do it, though. My hands would get clammy, I’d get that sinking feeling in my stomach, and I’d suddenly find myself stuttering like crazy.

Meanwhile, I’d watch other guys go up to women and just start talking to her. And the most fascinating part was that, if they asked her out and she ended up turning them down, then they just shrugged it off as if it were no big deal!

How were other men able to talk to her so easily and take rejection in stride, while I couldn’t muster up the courage to even begin a conversation?!

Here’s what I know now about being confident that I wish I’d known back then.

The ABC Confidence Principle

Being confident involves three factors. This is what I call the “ABC Confidence Principle”, and it goes like this:

[Ability + Belief + Curiosity = Confidence]

Generally speaking, how confident we are at any given task is a combination of 1) Our Ability to do the task, 2) Our Belief that we can pull it off successfully, and 3) Having a positive curiosity about your successes/failures (there are a couple of exceptions, but we’ll cover that later). Being confident around women involves both knowing how to talk to her, and developing a positive Belief in our Ability to do so.

Let’s start by talking about Ability.

Ability

Imagine this…

It’s late at night, and you’re walking out of a bar with your friends. You’ve had a few drinks, so driving home is definitely out of the question. And it’s also raining cats and dogs outside, so you can’t walk it either. So, you decide that your best option is to call an Uber to get a ride home.

Your Uber driver arrives. You open the door, and you realize that your driver is wearing this…

How confident are you about getting into that car?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The first part of the ABC Confidence Principle is your Ability. Your Ability to talk to women influences how confident you are, and it’s the part we have the most direct control over.

Here are my recommendations. First, check out some of the other articles I’ve written on social skills. Study my Conversational Totem Pole framework, learn how to use Conversational Hooks until you get a basic idea of how to talk to women, and internalize this exact script so you know how to ask her out and get a date.

And finally, practice. Try reciting either of the following scripts out loud at least 10 times until it becomes muscle memory. That way, when you do finally ask her out, talking to her feels like just another practice session:

“This has been really fun and I wouldn’t mind seeing you again. Why don’t you give me your number and we’ll get together sometime.”

“Would you like to go with me to [specific place] on [specific time]?”

Next, let’s talk about Belief…

Belief

Your Belief in how capable you are also influences your confidence. Having a high level of Ability can often indirectly increase your Belief, whereas having a low level of Ability or putting yourself in particularly risky situations tends to reduce your Belief.

(There are exceptions, of course. Having Ability but no Belief is called “Impostor Syndrome”, while having Belief with no Ability is often referred to as the “Dunning-Kruger effect”.)

This is a by-product of our caveman days. Back then, there was much greater risk if you attempted to do something and failed. If you wanted to hunt a mammoth for food but failed to subdue it, then it could easily tear your apart. We didn’t have access to modern medicine, so even a simple injury like an infected scratch or broken bone could mean death.

That’s also why trying to “psyche ourselves up” when we feel nervous often fails. To keep us safe, our caveman brains (also known as the limbic lobe or amygdala) evolved to make us feel unconfident around situations that it does not believe we are equipped to handle.

How do we improve our Belief? There are a few ways. The first is to practice! As we’ve already discussed before, improving your Ability indirectly improves your Belief. By understanding the theory behind a good conversation, knowing the words to ask her out, and practicing until it becomes muscle memory, you’ll naturally feel a bit more confident than before.

My second recommendation is to surround yourself with positive, supportive friends like yourself who’ve done this before. As they say, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Ever have that experience where you previously thought a task was impossible, then you saw someone similar to yourself complete it successfully, so you began to think “Hey, I could do that too”? Exactly!

Of course, making new friends does take some time to accomplish. If you already have someone in mind that you’re romantically interested in, it’s okay to skip this step and come back to it later. At the very least, I want you to cut out any sources of negativity from your life. Quit browsing any online forums where men complain about women, and stop hanging out with any guys who do the same in real life.

My third recommendation is to make sure you’re not becoming overly invested in her before you even get to know her. Whenever I had a crush on a woman, I would always mentally fast-forward to her being my girlfriend…even before she knew I existed! Remember that our caveman brains react negatively to risk. If you become overly invested in her, you’re increasing the risk because if she turns you down, now you have to break up with your “mental girlfriend”. Instead, develop an abundance mentality and remember that there’s many women out there in the world if one happens to turn you down.

Finally, once you’ve…

  • Understood the flow of conversation and how to talk to women
  • Practiced asking her out several times
  • Surrounded yourself with supportive, positive friends (optional)
  • Developed an abundance mentality instead of becoming overly invested in one woman

…then you’re all set!

I know you still might not feel 100% confident, and it’s easy for me to be that guy and tell you to “Just go up and talk to her”, but if you’ve accomplished the above four steps then I can confidently say you’re ready to start talking to her.

The final piece of the puzzle is to maintain a positive sense of child-like Curiosity around your results. Let’s cover that next…

Curiosity

Back in high school, I used to have a crush on one of my classmates. I asked her out, but she ended up turning me down. This led me to believe, unironically, that I had been cursed by an evil star. It felt like everyone I knew was getting into relationships while I was struggling to even get a date. So, in my angsty-underdeveloped-teenage mind, I legitimately started to wonder if she turned me down because some evil deity had put a dark spell on me.

Wow, I was dumb back then!

It’s statistically impossible for you to have a 100% success rate when talking to women. The first few times you ask a woman out, you’re probably going to end up with more rejections than dates. That’s OK! If you get turned down, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, get Curious about your results. Is it something you said? Something you could have done differently? Or, maybe she’s just not interested? Whatever the case may be, learn from it and try again.

This is something we intuitively “get” as children, but we tend to forget as we grow older. I like to call this the Mario Instinct. A good example of becoming confident at something is playing a difficult video game such as Super Mario Bros. You start out by reading the enclosed instruction book, which gives you a baseline Ability and Belief to work with. However, you’ll still die and reset several times before you can save the princess. Every time you do, though, you learn a little bit from the experience and feel more confident on your next run.

Developing your ABC Confidence

Confidence is a funny thing. We often wish that we were more confident so we could do the things that make us nervous, such as talking to women. This is backwards.

The ABC Confidence Principle shows that being confident comes from:

[Ability + Belief + Curiosity = Confidence]

Work on improving Ability first, since it’s easier and it also indirectly increases Belief. Once you’ve got that handled, the next step is to increase your Belief. Finally, go out and test-drive your newfound skills in the real world. Remember to maintain a sense of Curiosity about your results.

Everyone feels nervous sometimes (they just don’t talk about it). You’re never going to be 100% rid of those nervous feelings, which is a good thing. Nervousness and vulnerability can even be endearing. Most people who don’t get nervous around women are pick-up artists. A bit of nervousness on your part shows that you’re a genuine catch.

Go out and talk to her! I’m confident in you.

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