I can remember his words as though it were yesterday, as I stood on the ramp of a C-130 looking out over the Yuma mountains at 14,000 feet: “Sir, you have the rest of your life to figure out how to open your parachute—good luck!” It was my first HALO (High-Altitude, Low-Opening) jump and it was my jumpmaster’s attempt at a little humor before I started my 60-second freefall. The “figure out how to open my parachute” remark was all about my staying focused on my altitude and pulling my rip-cord at the correct elevation (4,500 feet). This was one of several occasions in my early life when I learned to embrace faith and—in doing so—discovered how to build my self-confidence. Faith and self-confidence are swim buddies. The more faith you have, the more self-confidence you develop.

When I use the word “faith,” I am referring to the first definition found in the dictionary. The one I like the most is found in the Cambridge dictionary: "to have complete confidence in someone or something other than yourself." The more you practice faith, the more confidence you will gain. I practiced faith in others, starting with my parents who encouraged me to try different sports, even though I was diagnosed with asthma. I built faith in the abilities of my teammates, from SEAL Team to building the Perfect Pushup. And, I had faith in my family, my community, and of course, my climbing buddies as we scaled Elbrus, Denali, and Aconcagua.

Without faith, we would constantly doubt ourselves and our abilities. We would second-guess every decision we made. We would never feel good enough or worthy enough. We would always be stuck in the past, dwelling on our mistakes instead of moving forward. Faith gives us the strength to keep going even when things are tough. Faith allows us to see our potential instead of our limitations. Faith allows us to be vulnerable and open up to others, knowing that we will not be rejected or taken advantage of. Both faith and self-confidence are essential to our well-being because they give us the courage to pursue our dreams and live our lives to the fullest.

Here are some ways to practice faith while strengthening your confidence:

1) Get rid of the perfection mindset: This is the belief that there is only one right way to do things and that we must be perfect to be successful. This way of thinking is not only unrealistic, but it's also harmful because it leads to procrastination, anxiety, and depression. Instead of striving for perfection, aim for progress. Focus on doing your best and let go of the need to be perfect.

2) Challenge your negative thoughts: When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, take a step back and examine them. Are they really true? What evidence do you have to support these thoughts? Oftentimes, we believe things about ourselves that are not actually true. By challenging our negative thoughts, we can start to see ourselves in a more positive light.

3) Set realistic goals: I want you to dream with reckless abandon and envision a future without limits; but when it comes to daily goals, I want you to make them realistic. It is important to set goals that challenge us but are still achievable. When we set our sights too high, we are more likely to become discouraged when we don’t reach our goals. On the other hand, if our goals are too easy, we won’t feel motivated to achieve them. Find a happy medium and set goals that push you out of your comfort zone but are still within reach.

4) Take baby steps: When we have a big goal that we want to achieve, it can be overwhelming. To make it more manageable, break it down into smaller goals or steps. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, start by setting a goal to run 3 miles. Once you achieve that goal, you can set a new goal to run 5 miles. Breaking down our goals into smaller pieces makes them feel more attainable and less daunting.

5) Celebrate your accomplishments: It is important to celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small. When we take the time to acknowledge our accomplishments, we are reminded of our progress and how far we have come. This helps to increase our self-confidence and motivation.

6) Surround yourself with positive people: The people we surround ourselves with have a big impact on our lives. If we are constantly around people who are negative, critical, and judgmental, it will be difficult for us to feel good about ourselves. On the other hand, if we surround ourselves with positive people who believe in us, it will be easier for us to believe in ourselves. Choose to spend your time with people who make you feel good about yourself and who will support your goals.

7) Practice self-compassion: We are often our own worst critics. We are quick to point out our flaws and beat ourselves up for our mistakes. However, if we want to increase our self-confidence, it is important to show ourselves some compassion. Cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and that you are just human.

8) Do something that scares you: One of the best ways to build self-confidence is to face our fears. When we do something that scares us, it shows us that we are capable of more than we think. It also helps us to realize that we can handle whatever life throws our way. Choose something that scares you and do it anyway.

9) Take care of yourself: It is hard to feel good about ourselves if we are not taking care of our physical and emotional needs. Make sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and take breaks when you need them. Also, be sure to do things that make you happy and that help you relax. When we take care of ourselves, it is easier to feel good about ourselves.

10) Help others: One of the best ways to feel good about ourselves is to help others. When we lend a helping hand, we are reminded of our own goodness. We are also able to see the positive impact we can have on the lives of others. Choose to volunteer your time, donate to a worthy cause, or simply help out a friend in need.

Faith and self-confidence are both important for our overall well-being. They give us the courage to pursue our dreams and the strength to overcome challenges. By following these tips, you can start to increase your self-confidence and feel good about yourself. Just remember that it takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and keep up the good work.

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