"But I'm not confident"
“To establish true self-confidence, we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives.” — Denis Waitley
I know what you’re thinking … easier said than done, right?
Nobody is born with high or low self-confidence. Confidence is a feeling that people develop and work on over time. For most people, confidence is something that comes and goes.
Think about it in terms of a cycle: When someone is at the top of the cycle, they are focused on their successes and accomplishments, meaning they might feel confident and strong. But when they are at the bottom of their cycle, they are focused on their failures and may feel low self-confidence or even defeat.
If you can identify with the feeling I’m referring to at the bottom of the confidence cycle, know you’re not alone. Everyone struggles with self-confidence every now and then. The key is realizing that confidence is like a muscle — the more you work on it, the easier it will become for you to use and maintain.
This article will teach you why everyone should work on their self-confidence, and it’ll provide you with ways to build your self-confidence.
But first — what is self-confidence?
What Is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence is the feeling you have when you strut into a job interview knowing you’re going to impress the hiring manager. A person feels confident when they believe they can successfully do something by applying their judgement, knowledge, and prior experiences.
How Does Self Confidence Impact Your Life?
Think about a time when you felt extremely confident in your ability to do something.
Did you feel an adrenaline rush? Did you feel strong and powerful? Did you feel as though you could conquer the world?
Self-confidence does a lot of things for us. It boosts our self-esteem, diminishes stress, and often pushes us to act. But most importantly, it makes us feel good about ourselves.
Let’s dive into a few more ways self-confidence impacts our lives:
Self-esteem is closely related to confidence but has a slightly different definition — it is a person’s evaluation of their self-worth and value.
When your self-esteem increases, you believe you are worthy of the life you dream of and the success you desire. Not only will you become more confident, but you will more easily accept your failures, give yourself the credit you deserve, accept new challenges, and become happier.
In fact, self-esteem always exists with happiness — and there are studies to prove it. In almost every instance, people who feel good about themselves are significantly happier than those who lack self-worth. When self-confidence increases, your self-esteem and happiness do the same.
Did your math teacher ever randomly call on the students who weren’t the strongest mathematicians to complete a problem in front of the entire class? Mine did.
Could you sense the stress and anxiety fuming from those students (yes … I was one of them) as they reluctantly walked to the front of the classroom?
My palms were sweaty and my right hand would shake while writing on the chalkboard — the pressure was on!
When a person in a situation like this doubts their abilities, they are down at the bottom of that confidence cycle I mentioned earlier. Due to increased stress and anxiety, they start to believe they don’t have the knowledge or experience to complete a task (or in this situation, complete a math problem correctly), even if that isn’t truly the case.
The feeling of low confidence and not being good or smart enough often manifests as stress or anxiety. And in extreme cases, it can even turn your body’s fight or flight mode on, which isn’t ideal unless you’re being chased by a hungry lion (or are experiencing another life or death situation).
Stress and anxiety on a regular basis can be detrimental to your self-confidence. These feelings cause excess release of cortisol and norepinephrine in the brain — making our bodies feel out of control and overwhelmed.
Unless you are actually trying to avoid becoming the lion’s lunch, there’s no reason to feel these feelings. And you certainly don’t want them just because your math teacher called you up to the board to complete a problem. Stress and anxiety can cloud your judgment and prevent you from thinking logically.
When stress and anxiety fade away, the excess release of cortisol and norepinephrine in the brain come to a halt. You are able to believe and trust in your abilities again, think logically, and feel as though you are ready to tackle new challenges that come your way — you’ll jump back to the top of that confidence cycle.
You’ll feel more motivated to act
If someone is confident in their ability to successfully do something, they’re more likely to volunteer to complete a task than someone who is less confident.
For example, imagine your manager coming to your team and saying, “Is anyone able to help me design a logo?” Chances are, the person with the background in design, or the most knowledge in the field, would volunteer their expertise … versus another person without any experience whatsoever.
If you’re confident in your abilities, not only will you feel more motivated to act, but the people around you will also want to trust you more … which takes us to our next section:
People will trust you
If you’re the one with the design background, do speak up about that logo and successfully follow through with a fantastic result. You’re not only going to feel a boost in your self-confidence (“Yay! I did this, and I did this well”), but your manager and team will also trust you more. They’ll think of you next time they have a design project.
When you are confident in your abilities, people are more likely to trust you, listen to you, and follow you.
For example, imagine you’re working on a group project, and you need to elect a leader. One person in the group says, “I know I can lead us to success, and I already have a few ideas I’d like to share with you on how to accomplish this.” Another person in the group says, “I don’t really like leadership roles, but I guess I could try if you all really want me to.”
The first person seems a lot more convincing, right? They also sound significantly more confident in their abilities to complete the job ... and succeed.
When you are confident, more people are likely to follow your lead.
You have a greater potential for success
There are several studies that show a strong positive correlation between high levels of self-confidence and success. That’s not to say that people who struggle with confidence won’t be successful. However, research shows that people with higher levels of self-confidence achieve greater success in multiple areas of life.
There are a couple reasons for this:
- People who are confident have self-efficacy — a belief that they have the innate ability to achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and succeed.
- When someone believes in their abilities, they are more likely to try until they succeed. They then have the experience that creates self-efficacy — it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now that you understand the benefits of having self-confidence, you may be asking yourself how you can work on your own self-confidence.
How to Build Self-Confidence
As I said earlier, self-confidence is like a muscle — you need to work it in order to improve. This means anyone can become more confident. Try these exercises to work on your self-confidence:
Get to Know Yourself
Knowing yourself means you understand your strengths and weaknesses. That also means you know exactly which areas of your life you are confident in and which areas you need to work on.
It’s clear why you would feel confident about your strengths. If you are good at something, you are much more likely to share your knowledge or act on that strength rather than a weakness or vulnerability of yours.
Take advantage of these strengths and use them to exercise your confidence. If you know how to do something, be the first person to raise your hand and demonstrate your skill or teach others. If you are confident in research you did, share your expertise. This will make you feel good and boost your confidence.
Then, work on some of your weaknesses. A confident person is not only aware of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but they embrace and use them as motivation.
Whether it’s studying a little harder, practicing more, asking for help, or spending a few extra minutes re-reading something, you can always push yourself out of your comfort zone to improve — and become more confident — in areas in which you typically lack confidence.
For example, if you’re someone who freezes up and gets anxiety while speaking publicly, sign up for a class or two. Practice in front of your family and friends. Then, when you have to give that speech, not only will you impress the audience, but you will impress yourself. This will help you develop the self-confidence you’re striving for an area in which you typically struggle.
When you are prepared to do something, you’re more confident in your ability to accomplish a task successfully.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe
Preparation is a simple way to boost confidence. Think about it in terms your co-worker presenting at a big conference. This presentation is a reflection of your fellow employee’s work and knowledge, and it also requires them to speak alone in front of 50+ people — managers, directors, and other people of great influence included — for 30+ minutes. Sweating yet?
Your co-worker can prepare to the point that they are able to walk into that conference on presentation day excited to get started. By avoiding procrastination, knowing the information like the back of their hand, preparing for questions — or even technical difficulties — and working on their public speaking skills prior to the due date, they will feel confident and ready to give their presentation.
Think About Your Appearance
Imagine you’re conducting a job interview, and you have two equally qualified candidates. The first candidate is slouched over the entire interview, not making eye contact, and looks slightly disheveled. The second candidate gives you a firm handshake, is sitting up straight, looks you directly in the eyes, and is wearing a nice suit. Who would you choose for the job?
The second candidate seems significantly more confident, prepared, and impressive — and you can probably gather all of that about a person without even talking to them.
It’s proven that people feel greater self-confidence and esteem when they feel good about their appearance. So use appearance to your advantage — not only will you radiate confidence for the people around you to notice, but you will also use your appearance and body language to make yourself feel more confident in any type of situation.
Positivity is a key component to building self-confidence. It’s what keeps you from beating yourself up after a setback or mistake.
By not accepting failure and staying positive, you’ll actually help yourself become a more confident person.