For many of us, the notion of trying something new is a really big, scary prospect and not everyone is up for the challenge. For those of us who are brave enough to dive in and give it a shot, it's natural to be lacking in confidence to one degree or another.

However, the only way to build confidence is to learn more about whatever it is you're doing, and to practice. And when it comes right down to it, if all it takes is some practice to enable you to see that you are getting better at something, that's pretty darned simple.

It's one thing when you can practice by yourself and it doesn't matter whether you mess up, get it wrong, or look silly. But many of us squirm and sweat at least a little over the possibility of looking foolish in front of others.

I remember a time when friends asked me to practice something with them that I had only just barely begun to learn.

Because I loved and trusted those women, I agreed. I was painfully nervous - which was even more painfully obvious - but I knew they understood. I knew they wanted me to do well and they were trying to help me by encouraging me.

By the end of it, I was amazed at how much improvement I felt in myself. It wasn't something that anyone would have seen as much as it was something that I could feel. I still had such a long way to go, but at least I felt like the train had left the station!  

There was a time when I would never have dared take such a chance. I would have been far too embarrassed to make mistakes, to get something wrong, and to look like a fool. In the past, my fear of failure had been enormous and debilitating. I'd shot myself in the foot on numerous occasions because of it.

But thank heaven for healing, and thank heaven for wonderful friends. All of us can use a cheering section, a group of people who will support us, urge us on, encourage us to try, who will help us learn, and who will still love us when we get it wrong. Thank heaven for people who push us to stretch ourselves, who let us make mistakes - and who will cheer us on for having done so.

Building confidence takes time. Some of it has to come from going about your life, sticking your toes in the water - or perhaps spreading your wings and leaping off a cliff. But when you have the opportunity to have friends listen, or be your guinea pigs, or let you take a crack at something that requires their involvement, then do yourself a favour and let them.

They are your friends. They love you. They want you to do well. They want you to succeed. So what if you look a little goofy? Your friends will smile with you and will encourage you to carry on.

When you are confident in yourself and in your abilities, the world doesn't feel so scary. You feel a sense of control in your life, which will have far-reaching effects. Confidence - or a lack of it - will influence every decision you make.

Lacking confidence will keep you stuck in unhappy situations that are rife with fear and anxiety. Seize any opportunity to build your confidence and if that means calling in your friends to help, then just remember that it's what you would want to do for them if they needed you. Don't think for a moment that you're imposing on them if you know you'd do the same in reverse. They want you to be at your best, do your best, be successful, just as you would like for them. True friends will simply want to help you get there.

Just appreciate that and let them do their Friend Thing!

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