The Ultimate Source for Understanding Yourself and others

Building Self-confidence

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What Is Self-confidence?

Self-confidence is the belief that you can handle a certain situation correctly. Self-confidence is knowing that you don't lack any of the necessary skills in order to successfully complete a task. This task could vary from a social activity like being able to approach someone you don't know, to a professional activity like the ability to complete a certain task that your work or your business needs.

Where Does Self-confidence Come From?

Without confidence you will surely miss a lot of available opportunities because you will be afraid to take the risk of trying something that you aren't sure you can handle. The following are some facts about self-confidence:

  • Self confidence is never inherited, it's learned. The belief that you lack the confidence genes is just a popular myth.(See personality and genes relation.)
  • Self confidence is not a general trait but instead you have different confidence levels for all the different activities you do. For example, you may be confident about your ability to drive a car but at the same time dread public speaking.
  • Self confidence is not constant with time; it may change to the better or worse because of the new events that happen in your life.
  • Self confidence may be independent of external factors, like being rich or having someone who loves you back.

What Can I Do to Build My Self-confidence?

You could be more confident through the total elimination of the dependency upon the opinion of others. This is because if you don't really have a solid knowledge of your abilities and of who you are then you will most likely be depending on others to tell you who you are.

If they were satisfied with your actions then they may tell you that you are a good person; if not, they may label you with labels like fool, an idiot or anything else that suits their own faulty perception. You will of course welcome these labels and add them to your beliefs about yourself because you've left the decision to them from the beginning to tell you who you are.

How to Eliminate Dependency on Others' Judgment

Correcting this problem is very simple: Get a piece of paper and write down your strengths and your weaknesses. Keep editing this paper until you are satisfied with what you've written. Now keep reading it daily until you are really sure that what you wrote down are your real abilities and skills. Now, whenever someone criticizes you or labels you, you can simply see if any of what he said matches your judgment of yourself. If it doesn't then just drop the comment.

Is it rude to disregard the Opinion of others?

You may think that it's rude to judge yourself without referring to others but lets face reality. If you are twenty years old, you should know yourself better than someone who's only known you for few months and so your opinion about yourself will probably be the most relevant. Moreover, in such an imperfect world, you will never be able to get a sufficient answer to your questions and your quest for gathering clues from others will never end.(See this article for more information.)

Just like anybody else, you definitely have people who consider you their enemy, people who are jealous of you or people who just dislike you for one reason or another. Such people will almost never tell you that you're great or that you're talented at a particular activity and so you will find it extremely difficult to get an honest opinion about your abilities from anyone. Consequently, the best thing to do would be to depend on your own judgment of yourself.

Self-confidence and Making Mistakes

Some mothers shout at their children as soon as they break anything, stain their clothes, forget to do their homework or when they do any other minor mistake. Treating a child this way results in making him think that doing something wrong is shameful and that making mistakes makes him different from other perfect people who do not make mistakes. When this child grows up and makes a certain mistake in public ( like dropping a glass or saying something wrong during a presentation) then he will feel embarrassed and might believe that he is not worthy. These kinds of thoughts will gradually but surely damage his confidence.

A parent's role should be building self-confidence in their children by encouraging them to try new things and not to teach them to fear making mistakes. The parent should teach them that, as a human being, mistakes are unavoidable.

In short, it's best to accept your mistakes without criticizing or labeling yourself.

Self-confidence and Inferiority Complex

One very important thing to note here is whether your lack of self-confidence is because any of the reasons we mentioned earlier, or if it is because of a deeply rooted inferiority complex. If suffering from an inferiority complex is your problem, skip to this section. Simply put, inferiority complex is a disorder that develops as a result of feeling inferior when compared to your peers or friends. This can act as a barrier to building self-confidence and so it is necessary to deal with it first.

Self-confidence and Perfectionism

In the Solid Self confidence program i explained that one of the great causes for a lack of self-confidence is being a perfectionist. A perfectionist always sets impossible goals and very high standards that he can never meet and this causes his confidence to degrade as he success escapes him again and again. One example of these impossible standards could be "I must never make mistakes if I want to be great at what I do".

Lack of Self-confidence and Assertiveness

A lack of assertiveness in communication can also lead to having less confidence of your abilities. If you are assertive, this will help you feel that you are in control, important and more worthy of respect and attention. Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself and needs without being aggressive; it's also the way of communication that makes you stand up for your rights and never let them go while at the same time avoiding violating others' rights.

Lack of Self-confidence and Negative Self-talk

Usually, the lack of self confidence is associated with negative self talk; which are the negative phrases and words you keep telling yourself while doing your normal thinking process. Stopping those negative words and phrases and replacing them with positive ones can not only increase your confidence but can help in fixing many of your emotional problems.

Lack of Self-confidence and Poor Self Image

Sometimes the underlying cause for a lack of self-confidence is having a poor self image. An example of this is if you think that you are ugly and so lack confidence whenever you meet new people. In order to know whether or not your lack of self-confidence is rooted in your poor self image; there is a small test that you can do: If you find that you feel more confident wearing your best shirt and much less confident when wearing something else, then your lack of confidence may be a direct result of the poor self image you have of yourself. In that case, fixing your poor mental self image is all what you have to do to restore your self-confidence.

Self confidence and love

People fall in love with those who can help them compensate for their weaknesses and those who have complementary personal traits. In my book How to make someone fall in love with you i described how presenting yourself as someone who is confident can increase your chance of making someone fall in love with you. It was found that women become more attracted to confident and assertive men especially if they were shy themselves.

If you found a way to convince people that you are confident you will definitely have more fans and you will increase your chance of making someone fall in love with you.

Self-confidence and Knowledge

When you know the benefit of something that you do regularly, you will be much more confident talking about it and doing it than if you were just doing it out of habit. Although you shouldn't have to provide an explanation to other people for what you, the power of knowing can still give your self-confidence a big boost. (See the power of knowledge.)

Self-confidence and Comparing Yourself to Others

Some people have developed the terrible habit of always comparing themselves to others; what's worse is that they choose to compare criteria that almost always puts them at the weak end of the comparison. They ignore all that is great about them and pick just this one thing that they lack and compare it to others. On finding that they are different, they feel less confident about themselves and their abilities. This behavior only results in damaging their already worn self-confidence. (Read this article to know how to avoid these unhealthy comparisons.)

Fear and Lack of Self-confidence

do you know that fear can also steal some of your self-confidence? If you are afriad of ghosts or of the dark, your subconscious mind will probably be a little confused as to why you think you should feel confident when you find yourself helpless in certain harmless situations like being alone in the dark. The more helpless you feel, the more your self-confidence will erode as a result.
You can still be confident even when afraid of something, but facing your fears will make you that much more confident than you already are.

Self-confidence and the Self Reinforcing Cycle

Just as your personality affects your behavior, so does your behavior affect your personality. Acting in a non-assertive way will result in your feeling less confident and will lead to a self reinforcing cycle; where your continuously decreasing self-confidence makes you even less assertive and this in turn weakens you further. This can also work the other way round, since by forcing yourself to act in a confident and assertive way, you will start feeling more confident which reinforces and strengthens you even more. (Check this article for more details about this reverse effect.)

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Did that help?

I want to be confident

How can I be confident when I'm not very successful?

Great, but I don't know how to write down my abilities.

I wish I had any abilities to write down, but the truth is, I don't have any!!

But if I don't confirm to norms, people won't love me! What can I do about that?

My case is much worse: I am not confident because I am ugly.

Well, my problem is that although I am very successful, I still don't feel confident in many situations.

The problem is that I feel confident in the company of some people and lack confidence in the presence of others.

Yes, but I want to know if there are signs that show a lack of self confidence.

I think that I am a boring person.

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