Often used interchangeably with self-esteem, self-confidence is having the belief that you can be or do certain things. Conversely, a lack of self-confidence centers on the belief that there is no way you can be or do something. Key to the use of this definition is the defining terms low or high as in poor or high self-confidence. It is in the use of these terms that as a human attribute self-confidence can serve as an advantage or a disadvantage.
For some self-confidence is the path to greater success, while for others is can be a life sentence to failure. To some degree, whether your are successful or not may well depend on your level of self-confidence. Self-confidence is not experienced in isolation. It is a collection of unmistakable internal and external signs that tip off others that a person has it or does not have it. If you are one of the many who does not, you need to know that self-confidence is achievable. While the focus of this article is poor or low self-confidence, remember, self-confidence begins with you.
What are the signs that a person is lacking self-confidence?
1. If you feel you must always explain when you make an error.
2. You feel the need to respond/defend any criticism directed toward you.
3. You over-compensate for your lack of self-confidence
4. Your body language
5. Constantly striving to become a perfectionist
Self-confidence is a learned trait. No one is born self-confident. It is the result of many years of learning how you as a person relate to others around you. From infancy on you are bombarded with positive of negative messages about yourself. It is how you interpret the messages that determine your level of self-confidence.
A good example of this is one of the most dreaded of social tasks of all: public speaking. If you were to follow the development of self-confidence in a person it would look like this. With the backdrop of school, let’s follow the development of self-confidence in a school setting. In most cases it would go something like this.
From pre-school to about the 4th grade most children are anxious to please. Not because of some inflated belief in their own knowledge base, but simply because of a need to please. In this stage of the education process, if the teacher asks a question of the class the number of raised hands will be quite a few. It matters not if the answer is correct or not, it is the acknowledgement that is received.
It is when the child begins to become aware of their individuality that their behavior starts to change. When asked to respond to a question by a show of hands usually it is those with high self-confidence that raise their hand. This continues as a pattern of behavior for much of the rest of their lives.
The reason that this article advocates for self-confidence to be a learned trait is this, even the most awkward of young people can “discover” their potential in the right situation, regardless of their age. Take the true story of Baltimore Raven’s football player Michael Ohr made famous in the book and film The Blind Side.
Outwardly, Ohr was viewed by most as having almost no self-confidence. However, while in high school he encountered events that literally changed his life. In the process, it was also discovered how much self-confidence he really had.
If you or someone you know feels a lack self-confidence, remember gaining self-confidence may seem difficult but it is simply a matter of choosing then learning how to accomplish this. Here are a few tips on where to start:
- Tell yourself every day that you can achieve whatever you want. Before long, you will begin to believe it and show everyone your newfound self-confidence.
- Do those things you know you do well then begin asking yourself “Why am I good at this? And then try to replicate how you do that in other areas of your life.
- Relook at the five signs of poor self-confidence at the beginning of this article, and then with focused attention, behave in the exact opposite of each one.
While gaining self-confidence may seem like a challenge, it is a challenge that succeeding at can pay high dividends for your life.
Whether identified as being a positive or negative person, viewing the world as a glass half full or half empty, or having low or high self-confidence people are seen on a scale defined by their outlook on life.