Confidence…it’s that intangible thing that strikes you when you meet someone for the first time. Real confidence generally shows at first impressions and permeates a person’s aura. It speaks through his manners, body language, actions, and choice of words.
What is Confidence?
Confidence is tied to self-esteem which refers to how we value and perceive ourselves to be. Confidence rests on our measure of self worth and belief in our own capabilities.
Confident people have a strong knowledge foundation of their capacities and have the mental tenacity to test their own boundaries. When the general conception for something is impossible, confident people rise to the bait of proving the idea wrong or right.
Our self perception may or may not be congruent with other people’s impressions of us. Loud people are not always confident people. Talented people are not always confident either. One can have an aggressive mien but actually feel afraid and unsure beneath that dominant veneer. A person can also be very good at something, yet still feel like he can’t measure up to others. Confidence does not rest on talent or feelings of superiority. It comes with the belief of knowing you are as good and worth it all as much as anyone else.
Arrogance is often mistaken for confidence. The truth is: arrogance is a far cry from confidence. Confidence inspires; arrogance repels. They are as different as night and day.
Arrogance often has the intent to bolster superiority at the expense of downgrading others. Arrogance is often used to acquire some measure of confidence. Hubristic people need to constantly display their primacy by lording over others and trying to instil a sense of inferiority in whoever they encounter. Only when they have established their superiority can they gain some measure of confidence.
On the other side of the coin, confidence is about quiet, unshaken belief in one’s competence. Confident people do not seek superiority over others. These people are concerned about competing with themselves rather than competing with others. What makes confident people tick is the process of self improvement and self actualization.
How to Build Confidence and Keep It
True confidence is not acquired by simply deciding to have it through positive thinking and affirmations (although this is a great start); it is gained through a layered process of self analysis, goal setting, determination, and the willingness to go beyond one’s comfort zone.
Although some of us just need a little push toward gaining more confidence, there are many people that need professional help to get there. Still, it is never too late to start incrementally growing our self-esteem by taking these baby steps:
- Be aware of negative self-talk
Nothing brings you down more than giving the time of day to your negative self. Listen to your inner chatter. Do you often say self-deprecating lines such as “I always mess this up;” “I can’t do this;” “I’m never good with people;” etc.? Why don’t you shift your perspective into a positive mode with thoughts like “I’ll try this;” “I may make mistakes, but I will learn from them;” “I’ll get to where they are at as long as I keep at it.” This way, you don’t place rigid limits on yourself. Remember, positivity is key.
- Get a toe, a whole foot, or your entire self out of your comfort zone
You can never test yourself nor learn anything new if you box yourself in a world you already know. New experiences test your mettle and provide insights about yourself. For instance, if the thought of speaking in front of a crowd unsettles you, you need to get yourself out there and try; however, you don’t jump in blind or leave caution to the wind. Courage is not just about going ahead and doing it. It makes sense to help ease your learning curve by planning, preparing, and getting ready for your attempt at something new. In this case, write down what you want to say, practice, and ask help for your first public speech.
- Realize that you will make mistakes
As the fact goes, no one is perfect; so cut yourself some slack. People fall from their pedestals often, some more often than others. What develops confidence though is a mindset to evaluate and learn from mistakes so that these can be avoided the next time you try the same thing. Nothing will be gained if no effort is made to pick one’s self up to squarely face obstacles again.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others
Your circumstances are very different from other people’s. There is no point in denigrating your lot and exalting theirs. Success is often dependent on one’s confidence, mental tenacity, and hard work. Of course, some may have had it easier than others; but, those who have surmounted more obstacles tend to have a lot more confidence in themselves. Assess yourself and your situation and work from there toward your goals. Focus on topping your achievements instead of trying to go head-to head with others. You’ll be surprised how fulfilling it is to actually achieve your objectives at your own steam.
These are only some of the many steps you can take to increase your confidence level. Acquiring confidence takes courage, perseverance, and determination; but, it’s well worth the effort. Keep in mind…
“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” —-Barrie Davenport