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Lack of Confidence

Lack of Confidence

Lack of Confidence

Your degree of confidence, called self-confidence, is the trust or faith that you have in yourself and your abilities.  Self esteem is the opinion you have of yourself.

Realistic feelings of confidence and positive self-esteem affect how you think and act, how you feel about others, and how successful you are in life.  Having self-confidence does not mean that you can do everything. Self-confident people have expectations that are realistic. Even when some of their expectations are not met, they continue to be positive and to accept themselves. 

Understanding Self-Confidence

Self-confidence allows you to have positive yet realistic views of yourself and the situations in which you are involved. If you have self-confidence, typically you do not fear challenges, you are able to stand up for what you believe, and you have the courage to admit your limitations. 

Most of us have areas in our lives where we feel quite competent while at the same recognizing areas where we do not feel at all confident.  Having an accurate sense of self-confidence means you avoid behaving overconfident or reckless.  It means you are not afraid to take risks on tasks that you are able to do and you do not get paralyzed by the fear and anxiety when faced with things you want or need to do.

People with high self-confidence typically have little fear of the unknown, are able to stand up for what they believe in, and have the courage to risk embarrassment.  Losing confidence is no longer trusting in the ability to perform. It may be reasonable as the result of past failure to perform, or unreasonable, because one "just has a feeling" about something or is having doubt.

How is Self-Confidence Initially Developed?

Many factors affect the development of self-confidence. Parents' attitudes are crucial to children's feelings about themselves, particularly in children's early years. When parents provide acceptance, children receive a solid foundation for good feelings about themselves. If one or both parents are excessively critical or demanding, or if they are overprotective and discourage moves toward independence, children may come to believe they are incapable, inadequate, or inferior. However, if parents encourage children's moves toward self-reliance and accept and love their children when they make mistakes, children will learn to accept themselves and will be on their way to developing self-confidence.

Surprisingly, lack of self-confidence is not necessarily related to lack of ability. Instead, it is often the result of focusing too much on the unrealistic expectations or standards of others, especially parents and society. Friends' influences can be as powerful or more powerful than those of parents and society in shaping feelings about one's self.

Any discussion of confidence should include information on self-esteem. While self-confidence is the knowledge that you can succeed at something, self-esteem is the capacity to like and love your self, and feel worthwhile, irrespective of all the ups and downs of life. It is your values, beliefs and personal philosophy by which you define your personal worth.

Someone with a healthy self-esteem simply likes himself or herself. A healthy self-esteem is not contingent on success because there are always failures to contend with. Neither is it a result of comparing ourselves with others because there is always someone better. With a healthy self-esteem, we like ourselves because of who we are and not because of what we can or cannot do.

On the other hand, low self-esteem fosters many unhealthy behaviors. Even though we might become aware of these behavioral problems, it's often a difficult task to change them unless the root of the problem, low self-esteem, is dealt with first.

It is not natural for you to feel good about failure nor is it healthy for you to feel indifferent about it. Rather, it is healthy for you to feel bad about it. Feeling bad about a negative event can help you to think clearly about the event, to change it if it can be changed and to make a constructive adjustment to it if it can't be changed.  But a warped sense of self-image can cause these emotions to become destructive; sadness can become depression, and healthy anger can become unhealthy. The more unhealthy our negative emotions become, the more it can interfere with our ability to think clearly, and the less likely we are to to change our behavior in constructive ways.

Building Confidence and Self-Esteem

Challenges to our self-esteem  and confidence are a part of everyday life.  The important thing is to learn how to overcome failure and negative experiences.

Self-confidence and positive self-esteem can be learned.  This learning will involve changes, new behaviors, and will take time and energy. Building self-esteem and confidence is dependent on breaking old habits and developing new productive ones. A key habit that needs to be shattered is the habit of negative thinking. These thoughts are probably so ingrained into your mind that you assume that they are unchangeable, but they are not.  Learning how to acknowledge and deal with your negative thoughts is an effective way of starting to boost your self esteem. Below are several suggestions for how you can begin to work on establishing better self-esteem and become more confident:

*Stop judging yourself by what happens to you in life, so you're not basing your confidence on outside events.

*Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes. Harboring old grudges takes up a lot of time and energy you could be using in more productive ways.

*Learn to think differently. When you fall into self-criticism and unconfident thoughts, note them and change them to positive thoughts.

*Set goals on the basis of what you can realistically achieve, and then work step-by-step to develop your potential. T

*Emphasize your strengths. Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot.

Self-confidence and self-esteem are learned, not inherited. So lack of confidence does not have to be permanent.  Since lack of confidence and lack of positive self-esteem are both learned, they can be replaced by new learning.  Developing confidence and self-esteem are effectively facilitated by psychotherapy.

Additional Information

For more information about self-confidence, self-esteem, and other mental health issues, please click on the linked websites listed below.

 8 steps to self-confidence
 TWU's Counseling Center on confidence
 University of Illinois regarding self-confidence

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