Many define self-confidence as a belief in one’s abilities. This definition, while possessing some degree of accuracy, falls short of providing a holistic view of self-confidence. For example, self-confidence can be said to be a result of self-satisfaction in one’s current abilities and performance.
Self-confidence is often mistaken for self-efficacy, which is a person’s belief in his abilities to perform certain tasks or create certain outcomes. This is different from self-confidence mainly because the former focuses more on being, while the latter focuses on doing. Self-efficacy contributes to self-confidence as a higher sense of self-efficacy results in increased confidence. Self-efficacy, while important, should not be solely relied on because it could bring about a tendency for us to rely on our abilities and performance—self-confidence is more than that.
This article aims to explore some factors that diminish self-confidence and walk through some proven ways to increase confidence but is not exhaustive. Also, it should not be used in the place of a therapist. For extreme cases, you should find a therapist that can offer professional one-on-one help
Why We Doubt Ourselves
Our reasons for self-doubt range from low self-esteem to unrealistic goals, and even a warped value system. Some major reasons include:
Childhood is a time when our personalities are still forming and are easily influenced by both good and bad actors. The effects of childhood traumas are so powerful and reach so far into adulthood that a majority of psychological issues in adults is rooted in some sort of childhood trauma. Psychiatrist, Marcia Sirota, says, in her article on the Huffington Post, that every patient she has treated who suffered from depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and addiction had a history of adversity as a child. A major effect of childhood abuse is that the child grows up thinking that they deserve being abused and they begin to embrace it.
The age of social media has negatively affected people’s world views and value systems. Behavior scientist, Clarissa Silva, writes that social media is used as a sort of highlight reel. People only show the good side of their lives, which we compare with our entire existence—good and bad. This causes us to develop unrealistic goals and our confidence takes a hit when we don’t measure up (and we won’t because it is unrealistic).
There are several other factors that negatively affect our confidence. Psychology Today lists some of them.
The Role of Self-Awareness in Building Confidence
Self-awareness is a uniquely human ability to reflect on our own thought processes, existence, and beliefs. Self-awareness should not be mistaken with self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is the ability to process thought and react appropriately. Self-awareness is the ability to reflect on our ability to think, process stimuli, and respond accordingly.
This ability is key to developing confidence because it enables us to examine our thought processes and behaviors and find habits and notions that result in a lack of confidence. An article by Psychology today walks you through how to develop self-awareness.
Self-confidence is more than just a belief in one’s abilities. It is also a state of being in control of one’s actions, feelings, and reactions despite external influence; this cannot be achieved without emotional independence. In more ways than one, developing emotional independence also develops self-confidence.
In Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he outlines steps from moving from dependency to independence. One of his steps was proactivity. Confident people are not reactive, they take initiative and responsibility for their lives. They see themselves as the ones who have the most control over their lives, and they exercise this control in all situations.
How? Choice. Stephen Covey says that between stimuli and response, we have the power of choice. A reactive mind is directed by stimuli—negative stimuli result in negative thoughts and attitudes. But a proactive mind chooses to react in the most positive way. Proactive people focus on things they can influence and control, not on the things they have no control over.
Purposeful people do things for specific reasons—these reasons are usually their physical, emotional, and even financial wellbeing. This is what we mean: A purposeful person wakes up every morning with a set of goals to achieve for the day, and every decision he/she makes brings them closer to those goals.
Being purposeful applies in all areas of life, even how you dress. For example, It’s no secret that self-image has an effect on confidence. A purposeful person, one who wishes to improve his/her self image, will dress purposefully to achieve that. They will purchase clothes in a certain style or color because it improves their self-image. A woman may only purchase black skirts because she feels most confident in black, or may only listen to a certain genre of music because it gets her into her creative zone.
Confident people make purposeful decisions that have the most positive influence. You could find a thousand and one ways to be confident, but the keys ones are developing self-awareness, being proactive, and being purposeful.