What is self confidence?

What is self confidence?

What is confidence?

When you think of the word ‘confidence’, what comes to mind? Does it look like someone who has everything together? Someone who feels no fear? Highly calm and composed? Or perhaps someone really assertive who knows what they are doing?

When we consider ‘self-confidence’, we might associate that to our beliefs on whether we are capable of performing something successfully. For example, we might feel confident brushing our teeth or driving a car, but may lack confidence making a life changing decision, starting the business of our dream or giving a speech in public.

Quite naturally, learning to brush our teeth well may have a lot less at stake compared to making a life changing decision. This has an impact on the extent to which we feel anxious about say, making that life decision. If it doesn’t cost you much, you probably wouldn’t care too much about “needing confidence” to accomplish that task.

Often, our perceived “lack of confidence” hinders our capacity to take that first step forward into the risky terrain. Whilst it is safe to remain in our comfort zone, what might you miss out as a result?

Let’s play detective: Is it truly self-confidence that you lack?

To be confident in successfully performing a task, practice is required. For example, when you were learning to drive, you might expect to stumble or need time to familiarise yourself with how to drive a car. Over time with practice however, this can be done with relative ease and almost automatically. This is the same for any skills or endeavours.

Therefore, rather than lacking in self-confidence, have you actually had sufficient opportunities to practice the skills required to successfully undertake whatever it is that you value?

Be willing to know yourself – but without judgement.

If you are like many of us, chances are, you may not have had enough of these opportunities because of our really active brain. For some, there is an inner critic that loops in the background, sounding extraordinarily convincing that they will never be good enough no matter what. “It’s too hard”? “there’s others much better at this than me”?

For others, perhaps thoughts of how they might fail so spectacularly that they cringe with what seems like impending embarrassment?  Or perhaps an internal set of unrelenting standards that may not necessarily be realistic yet dictating what it looks like to be “perfect”. Yet, if we want to learn to drive, we expect that we will realistically “fail” to start the car or move the gear right a number of times. How else could a human learn?

What does your brain tell you that immobilises you? Or perhaps more than thoughts, it is the feeling of anxiety and the accompanying physiological responses in your body that stumbles and immobilises you.

Is it skills training you need? (e.g. learning how to shift gears in a manual car)

Management of unhelpful, immobilising thoughts? (e.g. “I will never be able to drive”)

Managing unrealistic thoughts/unrealistic expectations? (e.g. “I should know how to drive after 1hr”)

Managing unhelpful feelings? (e.g. feeling scared about driving)

Managing physiological responses in your body? (e.g. racing heartbeat while driving)

Once you have identified the nature of what might be holding you back, strategies can be put in place.  A useful strategy is to notice these thoughts/feelings, and name it for what it is. Understand that your brain has the tendency to throw these very familiar yet very unhelpful thoughts and feelings your way. However, they do not need to have power over you.

Thoughts in particular are not necessarily a fact. We can notice it for what it is, and simply observe a thought as a thought, a feeling as a feeling, which puts greater psychological distance between you and the thought/feeling.

A life you value

More than whether you are self-confident is the question about what it would look like with “extra” confidence. What does it take for you to live a life without limitations, a life where you venture towards one that you value? While you may not necessarily feel self-confident, it does not need to stop you from living a life you value.

If you need additional support in this area, or to brainstorm with someone on how to actively engage in actions that moves you towards what you value despite how you feel/think, please contact us at Prosper Health Collective.

Elizabeth Ang

Elizabeth Ang is a Clinical Psychologist Registrar at Prosper Health Collective. She has a Bachelor of Psychology (Honors), Masters of Applied Psychology in Organisational Psychology and a Masters of Applied Psychology in Clinical Psychology.