“Confidence develops when you have a deep sense that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or pursue. Another way to put it is that confidence is the felt sense of a “can-do” attitude” (Joan Rosenberg)
Despite many articles from a variety of authors that suggest that growing self-confidence is as easy as following a number of simple steps or ‘tricks’ to change your reality, cultivating confidence is a process and requires a good amount of practice. People often receive pieces of conflicting information about how to achieve self-confidence. Confidence seems to have an amorphous quality, which makes the concept difficult to grasp and even more challenging to teach. Self-confidence is not an on/off switch that can be activated when you need it – it is rather a growing realisation of your worth and abilities that enable you to make courageous decisions and thus progress in life.
Low self-confidence debilitates – it has the tendency to strip away your ability to be proud of what you accomplish. It will cloud your judgement and make it feel like there’s always a stormy cloud hovering over you. A low self-confidence exhibits some of the following characteristics:
- Doubting him/herself or his/her abilities
- Being submissive and not actively seeking out challenges
- Feeling overwhelmed and emotionally charged
- Being hypersensitive to criticism
- Feeling isolated or alone
A very helpful table from MindTools compares confident behaviour with behaviour that’s associated with low self-confidence:
|Confident Behaviour||Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence|
|Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticise you for it.||Governing your behaviour based on what other people think.|
|Being willing to take risks and to go the extra mile to achieve better things.||Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure, and avoiding risk.|
|Admitting your mistakes and learning from them.||Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.|
|Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.||Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.|
|Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognise my efforts.”||Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh, that prospectus was nothing, really. Anyone could have done it.”|
Cultivating confidence consistently is critical for you to reap the benefits of interacting holistically with life – some of which are:
- Better performance: Rather than waste time and energy worrying that you aren’t good enough, you can devote your energy to your efforts. So, ultimately, you will perform better when you feel confident.
- Healthy relationships: Having self-confidence not only impacts how you feel about yourself, but it helps you better understand and love others. It also gives you the strength to walk away if you’re not getting what you deserve.
- Openness to try new things: When you believe in yourself, you’re more willing to try new things. Whether you apply for a promotion or attend a hobby-enhancing class, putting yourself out there is a lot easier when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- Resilience: Believing in yourself can enhance your resilience, or ability to bounce back from any challenges or adversities you may face in life.
Cultivating confidence consistently requires you to:
- Recognise your unique value and put energy into living your values – being comfortable with who you are and living accordingly.
- Focus on your strengths – Marcus Buckingham (Now Discover Your Strengths) suggests that you get better results in life when you identify, utilise and grow your strengths.
- Work on your emotional intelligence – get to understand and manage your own emotions and thoughts and how these impact your life positively or negatively.
- Enhance your communication abilities – communication is a vital skill that enables you to build rapport with others, listen well and express empathy.
- Take calculated risks – understand any limiting beliefs that may exist, deal with them and focus on reasons why you will succeed.
Cultivating confidence consistently is necessary as a foundation for personal and professional achievements. Tony Robbins rightly notes: “When you’re focused on retaining a sense of control in life, it actually reduces your confidence. Nothing in life is truly within our control. By letting go, you’re able to accept circumstances as-is, which is a powerful component of learning how to build confidence. Learn how to recognise your need for control. Take steps toward letting go and finding a true sense of contentment and confidence in life”.