28 October 2019 by Tom Olsen

The Bali Mindset: The Key to Self-Confidence

Bali. Nice place.

I want to talk about a mindset that I discovered that is incredibly beneficial in building self-confidence and that ability to just express yourself without thinking too much. I discovered it when I was travelling around South East Asia (including Bali in Indonesia) and staying in hostels.

If you have ever stayed in a hostel you know what kind of a social melting-pot those places are. Random people arriving and leaving daily, random conversations, very receptive and friendly people.

But it can be difficult to know where to start when you are travelling solo and just arrived in a hostel where you don’t know anyone. This is the situation that I was in. I had to throw caution to the wind and just fucking meet people.

And by doing that I discovered the joy of taking imperfect action without analysing. I started to apply this principle in many areas of my life and noticed huge benefits. I call it the Bali mindset.

Focus on the Process, Not the Result

People who suffer from social anxiety are so fixated on potential outcomes – will she like me, will I make a fool of myself, how will I be perceived, what will other people think of me – that they forget about the process of socialising.

That process involves introducing yourself to lots of new people, something I discovered when I was staying in hostels. And there will be some people that you just don’t have that spark with. There will be times when you introduce yourself to a group of new people and you will feel awkward as hell, or when you get into a conversation and you blurt out something stupid, or whatever you feel anxious about. But that is the process of socialising and becoming more confident.

When I was staying in hostels, I made it a goal to ‘ping’ everyone who I met in the hostel at least once while they were staying there. What is a ping? Any kind of social interaction no matter how small:

Examples of pings

  • Saying hello to someone when you pass them
  • Saying hello and introducing yourself and asking for their name
  • Asking how their day was
  • Making a comment about the weather, hostel, location or anything else

Pings are great because they break the ice. There were plenty of times when I pinged someone in the hostel and then later that day we would meet in the common area and it was much easier starting a conversation with them because that ping had broken the ice.

Pings are the process. I didn’t care about what that one person thought about me saying hello to them at the reception desk I just did it. I didn’t focus on the results.

Social Momentum

Social momentum means the increase in confidence that you feel when you do something confident. It’s an upward spiral because when you do things that take you slightly out of your comfort zone you become more confident, and then you can do more things outside your comfort zone.

What does this mean for building confidence?

It means starting small. That is why I loved to ping people in the hostel. I may not have felt like having a full-blown conversation with someone, but I could say ‘Hi’ to them or ask them something like: “Did you arrive here today? I haven’t seen you before”.

Building social momentum by taking baby steps is a huge part of the Bali mindset. I can’t count how many times I was feeling introverted and didn’t want to socialise and, by taking a small starting step, I would build social momentum and gradually become more sociable and outgoing.

That social momentum – something I like to call ‘state’ – is useful in all areas of life. If I have to do a presentation and I feel anxious I know that I just have to build some social momentum. How do I do that? By any kind of social interaction. Smiling at someone, asking the cashier how their day is going, saying hello to someone.

Take (Imperfect) Action Without Analysing

If I analysed too hard what I should say, or what that person said, then I wouldn’t take any action. Over-analysis is kryptonite to self-confidence. That is why I recommend to do things like acting and improv to building self-confidence.

What I have spoken about – the pinging, taking small steps to build social momentum, focusing on the process – all these require a willingness to take action without analysing everything that you do.

That is what I learnt in those hostels in Bali. I knew that I had to take imperfect action and quite frankly not-give-a-fuck about analysing it or trying to be clever and logical. Because let’s be honest – that kind of social analysis is only done to procrastinate on actually taking action.

If I thought too much, then I could quite easily find a reason not to be confident. That group of people might not want to be disturbed, so I won’t go and introduce myself and see how they are. That girl who arrived is probably tired from the journey and fed up with people speaking to her, so I won’t say anything. Those two guys look like they are having a good conversation between themselves, so I won’t interrupt them.

BULLSHIT.

I can think of many such situations that happened in real life where I felt like I shouldn't introduce myself. When I did I realised that those fears were totally misplaced. My over-analysis, once again, was proven to be a load of procrastination wrapped up in bullshit know-it-all 'logical' thinking.

Take imperfect action. Focus on the process. Build social momentum. And feel the joys of the Bali Mindset.