How do I KNOW if I am below a 5? And the difference between excitement and anxiety – the “phew” and “yay” measuring system!

One question I was asked recently was about the scoring of unconfidence from 0-10 I talk about in an early post where I also say “don’t do anything that puts you over a 5”.  This person said to me – “but how do I KNOW I am over a 5?”

What a great question.  For some of us, scoring things from 0-10 is easy, we can imagine our 0 and our 10 and spread out the numbers in between.  But for a lot a of people its not that straightforward.

Its like when you are in hospital and the nurse asks you – -on a scale of 1-10 how much pain are you in – how do I measure that?  I might think I am at a 10 when there is a LOT more pain that is possible?  Equally I might say I am at at 2 because my experience tells me it could be al ot worse, and then because I say 2 I get no pain medication.

A scale without a reference point is not very useful.

Luckily, I had an answer right away:

IF you are doing something, but when you STOP doing it, you go “Phew!!!” – that means you were ABOVE a 5 when you were doing it.

If you stop doing it and there is no change in your emotional or physical state – no sighs of relief, no “phews” – then you were at or below a 5.

Obviously, if it was a HUGE “phew” you might have been up at a 7 or 8 – a small one well, you were probably just at a 6.

Using this way of knowing whether you are above or below a five means you only know AFTER doing the activity – which is why it is SO important to break things down into small, small steps and take one step at a time.

For example, if I were thinking of getting on my horse, Gracie, bareback – I COULD just hop up on a mounting block and get on.  But that is a very large step and if it puts me at a 10 and I get tense, and then she gets worried – well, that is not a recipe for building or sustaining confidence – for either of us!

However, I can break this activity down into smaller steps:

–          Find a mounting block or something to stand on – lean over my horse and rub the FAR side of her

–          While on the block or log, lift my leg and rub her with my leg – make sure to include her rear end in the rubbing

–          With my hands on my horse’s withers, bounce up and down next to her

–          Now jump up and lie with my belly button on her withers –

–          While lying there, swing my legs back and forth so they rub my horse’s side

–          While lying there, swing my legs so I am lying ALONG my horse’s back

–          And so on….

Breaking the task of bareback mounting down like this means at each stage I can do the step – then go back a step and see how I feel.  If there is a “phew” I ask myself  “what can I do to bring this below a five?” and often go back to the previous step and do that a few more times – then it is ok to move on.

If there is no “phew” moment then I can just repeat the step a few times to solidify my muscle memory and then go on to the next step.

So – we need to break our activities down into the sort of steps that we can do, then stop doing to test our score – this will really help us build our confidence safely and securely.

The second part of the question was also interesting:  how can I tell the difference between nervous excitement (a positive feeling that doesn’t imply any confidence concerns)  and nervous anxiety  (a feeling caused by unconfidence)?

Luckily, if we already have the habits in place to MEASURE our confidence, this one is straightforward: if we stop doing something and we go “YAY! That was GREAT!” instead of “phew” – then the feeling we had beforehand was excitement and not anxiety!

I hope this post helps everyone in measuring their confidence – -and keeps us all safe out there

Yours, in confidence



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