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What Is Confidence?


Is it feeling more superior to others?

Is it being stubborn and single minded?

Is it about being oblivious to other people?

Is it about being self-centered?

Well it may be useful to start off with a dictionary type definition. The Oxford Reference Dictionary says that confidence is.. “firm trust, a feeling of certainty, sense of self-reliance, boldness.”

Regarding the expression ‘self-confident’ the dictionary says… “having confidence in one’s own ability.”

I think we all have our own idea about what self-confidence is and how it feels to us, which may or may not concur with the above.

Why Do Some People Have More Confidence Than Others?

Actually it is a relatively easy one to answer. It really comes down to how a person perceives the world and in particular how they perceive themselves.

So if someone describes themselves as being a person of low confidence then they are more likely to retain that feeling of low confidence. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Their thoughts about themselves will influence their actions. Their actions will provide feedback to their perceptions of themselves.

A person who lacks confidence may not attempt to aim high in life for fear of failing. With not aiming high they get mediocre or average results and this feeds back into their belief in their confidence. It can become a vicious circle of under achievement leading to a reinforcement of low confidence.

How Does A Person Get Low Confidence?

Well if you accept the fact that no one was born with low confidence then you must also accept that low self-confidence must be a learnt response and behavior. What can be learnt can also be un-learnt?

Some Possible Reasons For Low Confidence Are:-

1) Past achievements have been belittled by someone of influence.

2) A parent had low self-confidence and passed this way of being on.

3) A mistake was made and the consequences (loss of job, relationship, money, home) made them feel bad about themselves.

4) A repetitious bullying experience at home, school or place of work.

5) Mental, physical or emotional bullying.

6) Unhealthy psychological processing of events (always seeing the negative side of everything).

7) Unrealistic goals that are never achieved.

8) Living in the shadow of a parent, sibling, friend or colleague who are consistently successful.

9) Always being compared by a parent, sibling, friend or colleague to another person.

10) An experience of being a victim that has been accepted permanently.

How Do People Who Have High Self-Confidence Keep It?

They do many things consciously and unconsciously to keep their self-confidence in a healthy state. It is important to realize that although confident people may always appear that way they too can also suffer doubts about their confidence.

A temporary period of low confidence can occur when some events do not go well for them. These could be:-

1) A personal relationship issue (separation, divorce, etc).

2) Loss of a loved one through death.

3) A demotion at work.

4) Not getting an expected promotion at work.

5) Loss of the home.

6) A sudden shock (near fatal accident).

7) An illness.

For many people after the situation has become history and been dealt with they will recover their self-confidence. In fact going through the experience of the troubling event can lead to stronger and resilient self confidence because they were able to handle it.

There is an expression which highlights this …

“What doesn’t kill us has the potential to make us stronger.”

Is It Possible For Someone With Low Confidence To Gain Super Self-Confidence?

Absolutely, however a better aim would be for healthy self-confidence. You see that over-confidence may be just as bad as low confidence.

I am sure we have all met that person who says a lot but when it comes to delivery they are generally unable to live up to their hype.

In fact an externally over-confident person may be someone who actually has low confidence. They just try and mask the low confidence by a display of over-confidence. You may recognise them as being that person who was the loudest in your peer group. They may have been the bragger who said they could do so much and yet there was little evidence to support this.

A confident person really does not need to prove anything to anyone, least of all to themselves. They do their best. They aim to stretch themselves and are able to accept responsibility for both success and failure.

Actually failure to a confident person is just feedback. It gives them more information enabling them to make a better decision.

Another aspect to a person with healthy confidence is that they are themselves. They do not need to pretend to be something they are not. There is no need to brag or boast or talk-up their life. They are what you see and they can admit to being wrong.

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