4 Tips to Help You Understand and Build Your Self-Confidence
Having self-confidence and belief in your own abilities impacts on every aspect of life. If you have self-confidence, you will have the courage to pursue your passions and try new experiences — without it, you can become depressed or stuck in a rut.
In this blog, Billy looks at what self-confidence is (and what it isn't!), and gives some advice on how you can build your confidence.
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Confidence is about believing in yourself and your own ability to prosper. Confidence levels vary depending on that which you're applying yourself to. If you've never made raspberry shortcake, you probably won’t feel too confident when commanded to do so, even if you do know how to knock together a mean banana loaf.
That said, some people have more in-built confidence than others, which helps them take on new challenges with enthusiasm rather than fear. The consequences of low confidence, on the other hand, are manifold and potentially damaging — in your professional life, self-doubt can hinder career progression; in your personal journey, low confidence will prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities, which ultimately stunts growth.
Let's take a look at how to build confidence, while also identifying the distinction between confidence and another c-word, cockiness.
What confidence isn't
Confidence is not synonymous with superiority. You’re missing the point if your primary focus is proving how much better you are than others. An urge to demonstrate your supremacy tends to be rooted in insecurity. Even if you are confident that your ways and methods will bring you success, it doesn't justify shoving your ideas down someone’s throat. Confidence should open you up to others' input and not lead you to isolate yourself in a chamber of self-satisfaction.
What confidence brings
The positive outcomes of confidence are innumerable and invaluable. Confidence provides the foundation for expanding the range of your abilities. Confidence should also give you the courage to pursue your passions. If you're frightened of branching off from your current career path even though you’ve got zero love for what you do, then your biggest enemy is a lack of confidence.
With confidence on your side, you can develop an understanding of your wants and aims as well as a clear-sighted view of what you’re capable of. From here there's no reason you can't transition into your chosen field or advance up the ladder.
Change the inner narrative to counter a lack of confidence
An amount of unhelpful self-talk generally accompanies a lack of confidence. "You're not good enough," says your inner adversary, "you don't deserve this. Other people get to do this sort thing, not you. Pull back, stick to the shadows, don't be daft."
It's your job to challenge these deflating taunts. Shifting the conversational tone gives you something to build upon. First of all, tell yourself you are good enough and you do deserve success.
Unless your lack of confidence is chronically debilitating, there are probably times when the discouraging voices fade away. Think about these times — what explains the shift? Could it be the result of someone trusting you? Or is it when you're performing a task that feels liberating and constructive?
Use these occasions as ammunition to break down the negative chatter. Make a point of deriving satisfaction from your proven aptitude. This should create a healthy base from which to build your confidence.
Preparation and hard work
Let's go back to the raspberry shortcake example. If you've never done something before, your confidence in that task won’t be too high, and nor should it be. Overestimating your abilities — and displaying over-confidence — deprives you of crucial learning opportunities.
Confidence comes from focus, commitment and doing something repeatedly. Think of situations when your insecurities rise to the surface, such as during work meetings or at dinner parties. To eliminate these recurring instances of low confidence, it's important to recognise them and prepare yourself.
Ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable around your partner's friends or why you feel hesitant to add your voice to the meeting discussion. Try to visualise a more desirable turn of events than the erstwhile norm. Work towards this while understanding that improvements might take time to materialise. Learn from your failings, but don’t obsess on the negatives.
Keep track of your progress and take pride in each step forward. Push back against negative thoughts about yourself. In the oft-quoted words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, "confidence is the greatest friend," and a friendly attitude towards yourself is required for harvesting confidence.
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Billy has been writing blogs for Happy since 2017, covering mindfulness, stress management, confidence building and emotional intelligence as well as offering handy tips for Office 365 users. He's also an established arts, culture and lifestyle writer.
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