What is self-confidence? The most important quality
Self-confidence is about having faith in our skills and abilities. It is related to our belief that we can accomplish tasks and responsibilities and thus, in the long run, fulfill our dreams in life (e.g. get a better job). Furthermore, that also means faith and reliance on our powers and resources. Self-confidence is related to our actions in the world and will most probably be manifested when we truly believe that our actions can influence the results.
Nevertheless, self-confidence cannot be understood only by vague definitions. It goes hand to hand with other, more complex qualities or seems to be inextricably connected with them (e.g. emotional and mental strength). In other words, these qualities define a person that is feeling confident. Today, through the inspirational quote above, we discuss one of them. Maybe the most important one.
When we believe in ourselves we do not become overwhelmed by negative experiences or everyday difficulties and challenges. By that, we mean, that no further negative thoughts and feelings are generated, or accumulated to the initial painful emotions (it will be clearly explained later by an example). We are in touch with and accept the original feelings, we do not create new ones with our minds. A failure may challenge us but will not take our faith away from us. That also means that we remain focused. It is through these negative situations, that we test our faith in ourselves. In happy times, or “not too much at stake” situations, we are all confident…!
If we lose courage, by being too vulnerable to negative affects, due to obstacles, or setbacks, for example, then that is a sign that we are not yet self-confident. If something inside us cries that we are not going to succeed (I can’t, it’s impossible, etc.) then we must seriously consider what steps we need to take that will make us feel better about ourselves. Steps that will empower us to take positive, productive action.
Nevertheless, describing or knowing what self-confidence is, although it broadens our perspective, does not make us more confident either. Because if we say for example, that a confident person never quits, as the currents in psychology suggest, and use it as a “rule” to name ourselves self-confident, then we may stick in wrong situations, or unhealthy for us. Flexibility is also important in life.
Depending on our unique personal experiences achieving real confidence may vary in difficulty and time. Some people have an innate disposition. Some other people can reach such a goal easier than others. Self-help reading may offer some food for thought, but at the same time, we may misinterpret it.
The best way to work on it is by exploring our interactions with a reliable therapist, who knows his/her job very well. Through the therapist, our reactions to the problems will come to awareness, they will be tested, and discussed, in a safe, supportive environment, with objectivity, as well as with understanding. Desperation and pessimism will be also addressed.
Nevertheless, here are some tips, to start with. Use them with caution, not because they are not necessarily true, but because it is impossible to cover such a complex subject in a few thoughts :
Preparation, preparation preparation
We usually build our confidence by being as much prepared as possible. Being prepared presupposes, the ability to evaluate and address problems or gaps on a certain task, or goal, to focus, and to be consistent. As you can see, it is not that simple. As long as there is not a single part of the subject unaddressed, our confidence will skyrocket.
Throw yourself into your personal experience
Try to show courage towards your negative feelings. That means do not resist them, or avoid them, by using coping mechanisms. Research shows that overregulated emotions are as bad for our well-being as underregulated ones. (Nyklíek et al., 2008). Do not be afraid tofeel/experiencethem. Show tolerance and let them do their job. Feelings are just feelings.
The most important thing is to value them as alliances that are trying to say something to us, and not as enemies. Sometimes they point towards an improvement in our lives, some other times they may hurt us, by telling us a tough truth. Some other times are the product of another, preceding emotion, and depending on the case should most probably be ignored. The important thing is to learn how to evaluate them to our benefit. This is the real art in life.
Improvement comes with change
Being in touch with your true self does not mean that the self is going to die. It only means that we may need to modify or improve something. Under this perspective what we are afraid of most, is not our feelings per se, but the realization that we need to make an effort to change or try again. Such an approach may be overwhelming for some people and usually leads to resistance and other defense mechanisms. Then, in a vicious circle of having a poor mood, and low self-confidence, or self-esteem.
Avoid false interpretations
Another obstacle that may shake us in this process, is not that much the actual feelings but the labeling of them. Sadness for failing in the exams equals “I am a failure, I am unworthy”, so, it’s not, let’s say, the healthy sadness generated by a missed opportunity only, but the label of the loser, or the incapable that we hold for ourselves. Some people call that realism, but is it so? We could only say that only if no one ever has failed, and if someone has never failed, then he must be the first to throw the stone. Keep in mind that we can always use our negative emotions creatively and productively.
Emotions used as a compass
In other words, let’s use our negative emotions with confidence, despite how paradox that sounds. Sadness for failing may show to us our desire to succeed. Then, we may ask ourselves why we did not succeed, and if there is something that we could do about that. For example, next time we should be better prepared. The courses of action then are infinite and cannot be discussed here. If you would like to share any possible scenarios, then please sign up here for free to interact with the platform.
The concept of self-confidence differs from those of self-worth and self-esteem. Lack of self-worth seems to be much more of an obstacle in living a quality life than a lack of self-confidence. When we feel unworthy, even the biggest success will not overshadow that feeling. Feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted in past experiences and need reliable therapeutic intervention to be successfully overcome. Lack of self-worth, even if it seems like a temporal loss, is one of the main causes of depression.
Follow the link below for a better understanding of these conceptual differences:
Georgiadi, E. 2018). Self-worth. An inalienable right. Implications for parenting and relationships
Instilling feelings of confidence and self-worth in our children is far more than following “technical advice” that we have to apply, to solve the problem. It is more about fully understanding the real needs of our loved ones, how love can be transported into positive energy, and is, as parents, an embodiment of it. Follow the links below for some further reading on the subject:
Georgiadi, E. 2019. Love is…
Georgiadi, E. 2019. Authenticity, autonomy, and self-differentiation in family and relationships
Georgiadi, E. 2020.Kindness: its role in psychological resilience and mental health
Georgiadi, E. 2018.Denial: an obstacle to happiness and fulfillment
Georgiadi, E. 2019. Criticism, confidence and-self-development
Georgiadi, E. 2021. How-to improve self-awareness
Confidence in motion, 2018.
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Elissavet Georgiadi (Music Therapist/Mental Health Professional – PgDipMT-GSMD/City University)