What comes to your mind when you read this question?
Does this question leave you a little flustered?
If that’s the case for you, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the word confidence.
What is Confidence, Exactly?
When you think of someone who is confident, what do you see? Does the person exhibit any of the traits below:
- They have an absolute belief in themselves
- They see themselves as capable of handling the situation they’re in
- They expect success when they begin a new task
- They mean what they say
- They appear to have a natural strength,
- They seem comfortable in their own skin
- They are not arrogant
- They take risks
- They take advantage of new opportunities
A common theme among this list of qualities is that these describe confidence begins internally and is not superficial.
In simplistic terms, confidence is an internal belief that you can handle whatever comes your way. Confidence is a feeling so strong it translates into a sureness of yourself even in new or challenging situations.
Importantly, this kind of feeling doesn’t come without merit. This has to be a genuine assurance, born of a realistic understanding of what you’re capable of.
Confidence isn’t always something you inherently possess; sometimes it takes effort to gain it. Once you build your confidence, you must maintain it, as it can be easily torn down. Confidence is strongest when it derives from self-awareness and experience.
Confidence is a necessary life trait that helps you achieve more in life.
But that’s not all.
Benefits Of Building Confidence
Working at building your confidence doesn’t always come easy, but it is worth the effort. Here’s what’s in it for you:
Building confidence can help you perform better in various areas of your life. For instance, confidence can improve your productivity at work while also encouraging you to pursue other opportunities, such as challenging projects or promotions. Being confident in what you’re doing can help you perform your absolute best. The more confident you are in your abilities, the better you will perform.
Ease of Social Situations
Confident persons appear to be at ease in social situations. They don’t rely on the views of others for validation or their opinions for their own self-worth. This results in a greater sense of ease in these situations. Confidence helps you to become free to be yourself. The positive energy and confidence these people exude in these situations attract others and puts them at greater ease.
Boosting your confidence improves your self-esteem and mental and physical health. Knowing your own worth, values, and skills, rather than relying on others to provide that for you, can help you be happier, stronger, and more secure mentally and emotionally. Children who grow up with a higher sense of confidence tend to get better grades, perform better in school, take better care of themselves, and tend to excel in sports, the arts, and socialization.
Boosting your self-confidence can help improve your overall happiness. Those who have a healthy level of confidence often report being happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who struggle with their confidence. Confidence can make a difference in your relationships, career, and performance.
Less Insecurity and Doubt
Confidence helps you become more self-aware of your worth. This helps you to easily squelch the common feelings of insecurity and doubt that crop up. When you are confident, you know what you bring to the table, what you want, and how you’re going to get it. You refuse to allow insecurities or doubt to creep in.
Confidence is an improvement in your overall satisfaction and quality of life.
But what if you lack confidence? Let’s consider the cons of a lack of confidence. (Hint – It’s not pretty).
Serious Consequences of a Lack of Confidence
Do you have a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach?
Does life seem to pass you by (and not in a good way)?
Do you secretly believe that you don’t deserve anything good in your life? That you deserve everything that’s seems to go wrong in your life?
There is a strong link between self-image and self-esteem: When one is low, chances are the other will be, too. A lack of confidence can have severe consequences in your life; impacting the way you tackle your career, how you conduct yourself in relationships, and more.
Consider these consequences of a lack of confidence:
A classic consequence of low confidence is that you loathe yourself. You hate your thoughts, despise your actions, and can’t stand to hear yourself speak aloud. Self-loathing also comes with a measure of frustration and an unhealthy dose of anger. You struggle to forgive yourself for any mistakes. It’s imperative that you challenge your inner talk and correct it. Don’t allow that inner critic to drive your self-loathing. Begin by forgiving your mistakes and viewing them as life lessons designed to make you stronger and wiser.
Body Image Issues
A lack of confidence can leave you feeling negative about your body. It might be the muffin top, or dismay over your chest size, or even your hair. Did you know that even the most attractive people may feel insecure about their bodies? However, when you have a serious lack of confidence, you loathe your body in a deeply unhealthy way. This can lead to addictive, toxic behavior, such as drinking too much, smoking and taking drugs. A way to stop feeling negative about your body is to stop comparing yourself to others. There’s no quicker way to steal your joy and fuel insecurity than by holding yourself up to others.
Nothing to Offer
When you lack confidence, you may think that you have nothing to bring to the table. We all have doubts, especially in certain areas of our lives. But it is not the same as having a deep sense of worthlessness that stems from believing you’re not valuable. Does this sound familiar? Please understand your worth is not determined by others but is something you build. We’re all human, and other people are not better than you. You can respect others and look up to them, but don’t let that translate into putting them on a high pedestal over you.
Every criticism, whether real or imagined, elicits a negative response that may ultimately destroy you. A lack of confidence drives over-sensitivity. Truly listen to the context of what is being said to you. This will allow you to accurately evaluate whether the comment is based in truth and the intention of the messenger. Then you can decide how you really feel about it. If you find truth in a criticism, use it as a learning opportunity. If there is no truth, simply write it off and move on.
Being anxious is not necessarily the same as having anxiety. Often, people who struggle with feelings of anxiousness and fear is due to a lack of confidence. It’s holding you back from doing exactly what you want to do in life.
Every emotion has value, and any emotion is a normal part of being human. However, emotions can become distorted when you lack confidence. You may start to believe that your feelings and ideas don’t matter to anyone, which can lead to resentment and pent-up anger. Learn to remove yourself from a situation that makes you angry and deal with your emotions before you attempt to proceed.
Now that we’ve defined confidence, and considered the benefits of being confident versus the consequences lacking confidence, let’s consider how to tell whether you lack confidence:
Clues You May Lack Confidence
There are so many reasons why you may have low confidence. You may have been bullied during your childhood, perhaps your parents tore you down rather than building you up. It could have been a relationship that left you floundering. Perhaps you suffer from low-self-esteem.
We’re all just human and our confidence can be left fragile by life and the circumstances that we face. No matter the reason, someone who lacks confidence will not feel smart enough, attractive enough or good enough.
Signs you may lack confidence:
Do you constantly make excuses or try to explain your actions? For example, you have been invited to a party. You are busy that night, but you feel the need to justify your non-attendance. Instead of simply “I can’t make it”, you spin a tale of exactly why you won’t be able to attend. Confident people don’t need to explain their actions. Their answer is “yes” or “no”.
Your inability to attend a party doesn’t change who you are as a person. Just like when you make a mistake, you don’t need to make a million excuses why it happened. You’re human – you’re not perfect – no one is. Making excuses and constantly trying to explain yourself are signs of low confidence.
Reacting To Criticism
Even if it’s constructive, no one enjoys criticism. But how do you respond? Do you react aggressively and immediately when someone makes a critical comment?
It could be something simple. For example, let’s say you didn’t perform well at your last game. Your friend comments on your performance and you immediately respond with a slightly aggressive excuse. This shows a lack of confidence.
Confident people can handle criticism. They have the strength to determine whether it’s constructive. If it is, they will take the advisement. If the comment is not constructive, they dismiss it and move on.
Your friend comments that you appear down, and your immediate response is to deny it. You not only deny that you’re sad, but you also claim you are never sad. Obviously, that is not the case, but overcompensating is a fairly common trait in people with low confidence.
We all compensate in our own way. For some, it could be through arrogance, while others react similar to the example. We have points of strength and weakness and that’s okay. You don’t have to make up for that.
Often, people claim perfectionism as a strength. It isn’t – it’s quite the opposite. Perfectionism is a sign you lack confidence. Perfectionism is undue pressure because humans are imperfect. Since it’s unachievable, you are setting yourself up for perennial failure. Your pursuit for perfection is going to lead to disappointment and a steady decrease of your confidence.
People with confidence aren’t perfectionists, but they give their best.
Someone who lacks confidence will struggle to make a decision, regardless it’s a simple decision about dinner or something more important. They are paralyzed by choices because they have so much doubt.
What if they make the wrong choice? What if that leads to criticism or their friends hate them because of it? They don’t believe they are capable of objectively weighing pros and cons. They do not believe they can make the right choice, so they struggle to make a decision.
Ask yourself: Are you confident or do you wish you could improve?
Some people demonstrate confidence by trying new things, being decisive and practicing self-control. There are others who display confidence through enthusiasm and passion. Others do so by extending trust and being respectful. All these practices add to their confidence.
Think about several tasks. How effective do you believe in completing said tasks? This exercise is known as self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a vital part of determining whether you are confident. If you feel you are efficient in a certain area, then it will improve your satisfaction and help you reinforce your success.
A confident person views a challenge as a simple obstacle they need to overcome. They are quick to recover from setbacks and unafraid to try new things. Confident people tend to bounce back and move forward with relative ease. Your level of confidence can impact your performance. It will also affect how satisfied you feel with your choices, whether that is the words you choose to speak, and/or the actions that you take.
A strong belief in yourself and your abilities will affect your determination, motivation, grit, performance, and your choices.
Consider the following questions to explore your level of confidence:
- I do what I believe to be expected of me over what I believe is right.
- I am comfortable when facing a new situation.
- Life leaves me feeling energized and positive.
- I avoid doing things that appear difficult.
- Even when others give up, I keep going.
- I will work hard to solve a problem.
- I set out to achieve every goal I set.
- I am left feeling negative and hopeless when faced with a challenge.
- I relate to those who work hard and fail to achieve their goals.
- I often receive positive feedback on my achievements and performance.
- I need immediate success to maintain motivation throughout a project or I will walk away.
- I consider the lessons learned after overcoming a challenge.
- With a bit of hard work, I know I can achieve my goals.
- I maintain contact with people successful in my industry.
Your answers to these questions may provide a good idea of whether you are a confident person in your normal life.
Now, let’s go further.
Read the following statements. Grade them on a scale of 1 to 3: 1 – being deeply true, 2 – sometimes true, and 3 – not normally true:
- I have a good sense of my weaknesses and strengths.
- I’m willing to take a risk if it’s for something that I believe in.
- I am prepared for new experiences.
- I am capable of coping with doubt and fear.
- I make time to remind myself of past success.
- I understand that failure is an inevitable part of life.
- I am capable of coping with unexpected events and changes.
- I’m comfortable in asking for support.
- I know my values.
- My actions align with my values.
- I don’t easily give up.
- I understand that not everyone will approve of me or like me.
- I have a strong sense of self-worth.
- I understand that setbacks are to be expected.
- I don’t get down on myself when I’m facing a tough time.
If you marked most of these with a “1”, then you have nothing to worry about. You’re as confident as can be. If the majority of your answers were “2”, you could probably use a boost of confidence, but you’re close.
If you answered the majority of your questions with a “3”, then you’re on shaky ground.
No worries. It’s okay, you can work on it.
Good news! You can boost your confidence, and you can get started with these actions:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The quickest way to sap your confidence is by constantly trying to compare yourself and your life to the people around you. It’s great that your friend from high school bought a house and made a big social media post about it. It’s also nice your college roommate just got married and started a new job.
You can be happy for them without making comparisons to where you are in life. There is a link between how you feel about yourself and jealousy.
If you constantly compare yourself to others, it’s going to be difficult to avoid jealousy and feeling worse about yourself. When you catch yourself making comparisons, give yourself a helpful reminder that it isn’t productive. Life isn’t a competition, no matter how hard the world tries to convince you otherwise.
2. Physically Take Care of Yourself
Take care of your body. It’s so difficult to be a confident person when you aren’t looking after yourself properly. Don’t skip meals, don’t miss sleep or avoid exercise. You will feel confident when you feel good about yourself and looking after your body plays a major role in that.
3. Have Some Self-Compassion
Even confident people make mistakes. The difference between confident people and those who lack confidence is the ability to exercise self-compassion. Being harsh with yourself is not going to motivate you, it’s going to do the opposite. We’re only human, so it’s inevitable that you will mess up at some point.
How do you typically respond when this happens? If you immediately beat yourself up, you’re doing it wrong.
Now, think about how you treat a friend who has made a mistake? You offer them comfort and support, right? Well, it’s time to extend that same courtesy to yourself, you deserve self-compassion.
4. Embrace Self-Doubt
We all put things off, whether it’s applying for new jobs or asking someone out. We tell ourselves we’ll do it as soon as we feel more confident. Have you considered that following through will actually help you feel confident? Yes, sometimes the best way to boost your confidence is by taking action. So, embrace the self-doubt and do it anyway.
5. Challenge Your Inner Voice
When your inner-critic and your brain are telling you you’re not good enough to do something, it’s time for an experiment.
Quietly remind yourself that your inner voice and your brain are not always right. Sometimes, the best way to tackle your negative inner voice is to challenge it.
So, when your brain tells you, “You can’t”, go out and do it anyway. You may feel nervous or anxious about it, but every step you take forward, the more confidence that will build.
If you want to lead a fulfilling life, you must have a healthy level of confidence.
When you feel self-confident, you likely try new things. But that’s not all. The benefits of having confidence are numerous, including improved performance, better health, and overall happiness.
Consequently, low self-confidence breeds self-loathing, anxiety, and anger. It’s important to discern whether you lack confidence. Some signs you may lack confidence include seeking perfection, compensating for perceived weaknesses and constantly explaining yourself to others.
Included in this article were a series of question you can ask yourself to recognize whether you have low self-confidence and your level of confidence. Finally, you were given ways to boost your confidence.
Whether you want to sign up for a salsa class or apply for a new job, the key to getting out there is believing in yourself. Confidence allows you to focus on the task, without wasting your energy and time worrying about what other people think.
Confident people perform better. When you are confident going into a presentation, you will be more focused on the message you want to deliver to the audience. If you don’t have confidence, then you will be caught up in thinking about what the audience is thinking and whether you’re doing okay.
Self-confidence is a necessity for your career success. Boosting your confidence can make all the difference between achieving your career goals or standing on the sidelines watching others achieve theirs.
Where have you lacked confidence?