Self-confidence, the belief in oneself and one’s abilities, is one of the cornerstone’s to a happy life. Self-confidence encompasses areas including relationships, career choices and general life satisfaction. Increasing self-confidence takes a combination of goal-setting, small successes, affirmations, and belief in your worthiness.
“Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle” (Virginia Woolf)
Where does Self-confidence Come From?
Self-confidence originates early in life. Eric Erikson and other developmental theorists provide an understanding of self-confidence as beginning with self-awareness.
As children experience new situations, places and people, interactions and outcomes provide feedback which is internalized, or brought into the self. If these are positive experiences, behavior and self-esteem increase.
Behavior and self-esteem are components of self-confidence, and as more and more positive experiential outcomes are experienced the higher self-confidence rises.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.
Should the child have negative outcomes, fail to achieve certain tasks or be rejected by new people; self-confidence is lessened.
Building Self-Confidence Naturally
Naturally increasing self-confidence is a simple approach using the psychology of learning. Increases in self-confidence come when a life challenge, however large or small, is successfully met or mastered. Breaking objectives down into simple goals, then successfully meeting those goals builds self-confidence.
Once a goal has been identified, planning to meet the goal in small steps is crucial for building self-confidence. For example, landing a new job, might be the objective, but by breaking it down into the steps of writing a resume, calling 10 people asking for referrals, obtaining 10 openings from job posting boards, etc. Each successful completion of a step should be celebrated.
Taking time to enjoy the successes along the way and acknowledging the completion of the step adds to the confidence in the ability to succeed at the next step.
Affirmations for Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is not only influenced by outside events, but internal processing. It is powerful to take advantage of inner dialogue to sway self-confidence. Affirmations are simple statements either said aloud or written down and repeated aloud while focusing on the quality.
“For a client working with self-confidence issues, affirmations and journaling are essential,” says Rick Setter, Ph.D. “Once my clients identify the negative statements they are giving themselves, we challenge them using the Horizons Approach. Basically, the negative statement is challenged by a positive statement.
“So, if the client has been telling themselves ‘I’m not worthy of a promotion’ we challenge that with a statement designed to bring about a change in thinking. This might be a statement such as ‘I am as good as anyone and I deserve good things. It might sound simplistic, but with repetition it works.
Self-Confidence Versus Self-Esteem
Many people confuse or use self-confidence and self-esteem interchangeably. However, the two concepts are different. Self-esteem has to do with feelings about ourselves.
Self-confidence includes the perceived ability of achieving successful interactions with the world.
However, even though the two are different, a healthy self-esteem is essential to self-confidence. For this reason, self-esteem levels should be evaluated along with self-confidence. The action component of self-confidence cannot come to bear without having a solid footing in self-esteem.
Good resources for self-esteem building can be found in alterantive thinking or a more traditional route from the National Institutes of Mental Health or by seeking the help of qualified mental health practitioner.
Perserverance a Key to Self-Confidence
Perhaps the one most important rule to apply in considering self-confidence is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Perseverance and persistence of the pursuit of goals not only eventually leads to success, but builds self-confidence along the way.
Standing in the face of adversity and continuing to attempt to make progress gives a sense of the continuity of your strength and ability.
Self-confidence can be improved by using multiple strategies to achieve the same goal. Through persistently trying different approaches to the key goal, self-confidence is boosted as extra issue-resolving skills are learned.
Belief in Worthiness
Essential to self-confidence is a core belief in being worthy of successful interactions and goal obtainment. Worthiness exists in people for different reasons. For some, it is a belief in a loving Creator who is seen as having a plan for life. For others, it is a belief that all people deserve success.
Whatever religious, spiritual or philosophical explorations need to be made to establish a sense of innate self-worth, they are crucial in arriving at a strong sense of self-confidence. The idea that something larger than man is at work in life with purpose and drive encourages self-confidence.