Boosting self-confidence is something most of us need from time to time. But if you’re someone who lacks a lot of confidence you’ll already be aware that it’s holding you back from the things you’d like to achieve. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be this way.
In this post, we’ll outline some of the reasons why low self-esteem and low confidence develops. We’ll then provide you with a couple of tips and strategies in order to turn things around. You’ll learn some of the ways you can develop a stronger sense of self in order to form the foundations of self-confidence. Boosting self-confidence can happen in a variety of ways but the key component is you. Boosting confidence will provide you with the drive and the ability to work toward your goals without self-limiting beliefs standing in your way.
Okay, so we’d all like to be well-rounded and confident in our lives. Some people claim they need no help in this regard because their confidence is baked in, but this is false confidence. Let’s start by outing the person who confuses confidence with cockiness and arrogance. This same person is often loud-mouthed, attention-seeking, critical of others but sensitive to personal criticism, they take unnecessary risks and they don’t ask for help even when it’s clear they aren’t up to the things expected of them. So let’s not confuse confidence with some people’s expression of it.
Confidence is an internal state that sometimes shines through – but not always. The most introverted people can be perfectly comfortable with who they are and what they do. So, confidence is not about loudness or showiness. It’s something that’s embedded and shaped in your personality. In other words, you don’t have to become an entirely different person in order to boost your self-confidence.
Maybe you’re reading this because you’re only too aware of the effect low confidence is having on your life? That’s actually a good sign because too many people are unable to see these effects. They blame their failures on anything but themselves. They are desperate to find a better job but don’t know where to start because they assume they’ll fail. Their dreams are embedded with frustrations and personal blocks. They have developed and refined any number of reasons as to why they can’t move ahead. On the surface, their reasoning may sound legitimate but when further examined, the justifications are all rooted in a lack of self-confidence.
As adults, we often waste a ton of energy attempting to ‘appear’ confident rather than developing real confidence. The importance society puts on outside appearances only reinforces the pressure to put on a show. This is intensified with the popularity of reality television and social media. It has become the norm to appear a certain way to everyone else, rather than focusing on making the changes internally that will allow us to alter our sense of self. It’s comparatively easy to photoshop an image in order to gain thousands of likes, but it’s a facade, and it certainly isn’t a display of confidence.
Self-Esteem and Confidence
The terms ‘self-esteem’ and ‘confidence’ are often used interchangeably to describe an individual’s level of assurance, poise, self-respect, and security. While these two concepts are often related, they are not the same.
The main difference is that self-esteem is relatively constant, while confidence is something that fluctuates. Self-esteem refers to the value you place on yourself whereas confidence refers more to faith in your abilities.
Let’s unpack these a little more. Confidence is needed with your career, relationships, self-image, interactions, and other aspects of your life. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be extremely confident in one area of their life, yet insecure in another. Being fully confident and comfortable with yourself in every situation is truly rare.
When you foster a strong sense of self-esteem, it will help you become more confident in all areas of your life. While confidence varies between circumstances, your self-esteem is a continuous part of your self-concept.
The higher your self-esteem, the more likely you will be comfortable facing a variety of situations in your life. Self-esteem is an underlying trait that directly affects how you perceive yourself in all circumstances.
Self-esteem can be tricky because a lack of self-esteem will manifest in a variety of ways. If you have low self-esteem, you may automatically assume that you won’t be good at a task and will either give up or subconsciously sabotage yourself into failing. This is your self-concept trying to prove why it has low self-esteem.
If you repeatedly fail in a variety of circumstances, your subconscious says, “I told you this would happen.” During every situation that you face, negative self-talk will rear its ugly head, telling you that you will fail, you’ll look stupid, you’ll embarrass yourself, and others will harshly judge you. This negative self-talk is not accurate but originates from low self-esteem.
The way in which we present ourselves can be a clear indication to those around us of our levels of confidence and self-esteem. Physical cues like slouching, talking sheepishly, or a constant downcast gaze, all indicate low self-esteem. During conversations, expressing doubt, frequent verbalization for a need for reassurance, or indecisiveness, are also signs of low self-esteem. It is relatively easy to see these kinds of signs in young children and teenagers; however, many adults learn to hide their insecurities.
Another way in which low self-esteem manifests itself is in what’s known as a confidence-contingent outlook. This is when a person relies entirely on their accomplishments to feed their self-esteem. It makes us have the need to succeed at everything so that we can feel good about ourselves.
We also feel the urge to put others down in order to feel superior. But the unstable nature of low self-esteem requires a continuing need to feed as a way to escape and deny true feelings. It is a vicious and draining cycle that is incompatible with contentment, happiness, and genuine self-esteem.
But how do you know if you need to work on your self-esteem and confidence? Well, look out for these five signs:
The first is indecisiveness. Those who lack self-esteem are frequently riddled with self-doubt. Being indecisive in many situations may indicate low self-esteem, whilst indecisiveness in just one or two situations may simply show a lack of confidence in those particular situations. For example, if you are a new business owner, you may spend more time making decisions than a seasoned entrepreneur because you are frequently second-guessing yourself. As you learn and develop the appropriate skills, you’ll increase your confidence. It’s knowledge and experience that will improve confidence in individual situations.
The second sign is looking for outside reassurance. Self-esteem comes from self-assurance, which means that you aren’t swayed by the opinions of others. One symptom of low self-esteem is often the frequent fluctuation in your mood based on the actions of others. Again, if this only happens in a few situations, it merely indicates that you may have a lack of confidence in those areas. However, if it is a recurring theme across the board, it is an indication that you have low self-esteem.
A third example involves being reluctant to voice your opinions. It indicates an underlying doubt in what you have to say. It might mean that you are unsure if your opinion is valid, or you tell yourself that others are uninterested in what you have to say. You might fear that speaking out will cause others to dislike you.
A failure to take on board even mild criticism is the fourth sign. This often coincides with individuals with low self-esteem. When you need others’ approval to feel good, then hearing criticism, even in the form of structured feedback, can be crushing. For these individuals, criticism is always taken as a personal attack on the ego rather than being looked at as feedback.
The fifth sign involves giving up too easily. Nobody is an expert when they try something for the first time. It may require perseverance and overcoming mistakes and obstacles before you can succeed. Someone with wavering esteem can become easily defeated when they fail the first time.
How self-limiting beliefs may be affecting your life
All your life, you’ve been constructing and embedding beliefs about yourself in relation to your way of life. Self-limiting beliefs are exactly what they sound like. They are beliefs as opposed to reality and they have the effect of pulling you back. This can result in decreasing your self-confidence, ultimately losing your self-esteem in the process.
As your self-esteem falters, you’ll find it harder to try new things and attempt new adventures because you will believe that the risks and dangers far outweigh the experience to be derived.
Over time these same limiting beliefs can result in psychological effects on your health. You may find yourself more agitated, depressed, anxious, indecisive and bad-tempered. Your personality may become more prickly and you’ll be regarded as thin-skinned and touchy. Then there’s the content of your speech. You find it easier to start leaning towards the negative. There’s the tendency to find ways to complain and blame others for your problems and failures. Yes, it’s as grim as it sounds and so it’s important to avoid such a life in the first place.
The first step to overcoming self-limiting beliefs is to identify them. I won’t pretend this is easy because it involves alerting yourself to your own thought processes in terms of the internal dialogue or self-talk that you use.
Here’s a quick list of the most common limiting beliefs. See if any sound familiar:
• I can’t be my authentic self because I’ll be judged harshly.
• I mustn’t fall in love because I’ll get heartbroken.
• I can’t ask for what I want because I’ll get rejected.
• I can’t trust people because they will eventually betray my trust.
• I can’t pursue my dreams because I will most likely fail.
• I don’t need to be successful, so I’m not going to even strive for success.
• It’s too late to pursue my dreams.
• I’m nothing special because I’ve never accomplished anything exceptional.
• I don’t deserve happiness because I’m not good enough.
• I hate the way I look, but there is nothing I can do to change.
• I am too weak and will never be able to find the strength to change.
If you’re still reading this post it’s clear that you have sufficient interest in taking the steps needed to work on overcoming self-limiting beliefs. But first, you need to accept this is not a passive exercise. You can’t just read the article and expect to feel different by the end. What you’re reading is some information and advice that lays out a structure that you can choose to follow – or not. So, for example, you can’t move forward until you’ve identified your self-limiting beliefs, such as those I’ve just outlined.
The next step in the process is to choose your outcome. When you’ve decided on your desired outcome, it’s easier to gain clarity about what it is in your life that you would like to change. You’ll have to ask yourself some tough questions and thoroughly consider your answers. For example:
• What’s currently preventing you from achieving my goals?
• What kind of person would you ideally like to become?
• What specifically do you want to change?
• What specific beliefs aren’t working for you?
• What self-limiting beliefs are holding you back?
It’s just about change
Nobody likes to be thought of as wrong – especially if it reflects badly on years of your life. Even so, hopefully, you now have some doubt about the beliefs you’ve held for some time. The consequences of self-limiting beliefs are far-reaching and it’s even more reason to replace them with new and more empowering beliefs.
Think of your new empowering beliefs as a sleeping giant. These beliefs are already inside you, they just need to be shaken awake in order for you to make changes. This may be a whole new experience for you and one that feels unaccustomed.
Indulge yourself for a while. Speculate on how these alternative beliefs could change your entire outlook. Ask yourself:
• What benefits can I expect from using these new beliefs?
• How will they help me reach my goals?
• How will they change my life for the better?
• How will they help in both the long-term and short-term?
• How will they make me feel about myself?
• How will they empower me moving forward?
• Why is this important?
The more reasons that you can find, the higher your motivation will be to break your old patterns of behaviour and replace them with a new, empowering belief system.
Let’s assume that you’ve committed yourself to positive change, so the next step is simply to imagine. That’s correct – you have permission to daydream.
Spend time every day visualizing yourself using your new way of thinking in your day-to-day activities. Take particular note of the actions you take, the decisions you are making, how you talk to others, and how you talk to yourself.
There’s no time limit on this but there must come a point where visualization gives way to actual change. It’s begin by overlapping with your imagination, but one day, perhaps even quite suddenly, you’ll stop imagining because you have become the person you’ve been dreaming about.
A word of caution. When you decide to change your beliefs and probably therefore your behaviour, there’s a temptation to mirror yourself on people you think you’d like to be. Take care, because unless you know that person very well, you are merely comparing yourself to the façade they are presenting to the world. This is especially true of celebrities and big business types who use the media in order to present a certain image of themselves. You can never ‘be’ that person. You can only become the best version of yourself.
Which leads us to expectations. So far you’ve worked on your beliefs, you’ve imagined scenarios where you’ve changed for the better and things are looking good. The last thing you want is a big wet blanket thrown over your progress and one of the quickest ways to kill your confidence is to set expectations that are way too high. If you have something that you want to work toward, come up with a realistic goal that you can work on today. Keep your goals small and attainable and be sure to celebrate each small victory.
Confidence doesn’t develop overnight so be kind to yourself and be patient with the process. Remember, beliefs are constructed in all sorts of ways and some of these simply aren’t helpful in building positivity and moving forwards with your life. You can change the way you think by identifying your inner talk and replacing the blocking beliefs with those that are more helpful. Set manageable goals, pace yourself, use visualization to imagine where you’re going and remind yourself that it’s within your gift to make the necessary changes that can shape your life for the better.