Developing Confidence

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Developing Confidence

July 5, 2015 3:12 pm Published by

Self confidence means having full trust or reliance on oneself. It means how much we trust ourselves. People who are not confident have self-doubt, care too much about others’ opinions, depend on the approval of others, and avoid taking risks because of fear of failure. They rarely expect to be successful. They tend to underestimate themselves, ignore compliments paid to them or do not know how to accept compliments and respond gracefully.

On the other hand self confident people have positive perception about themselves. They have faith in their own abilities, and believe that they will be able to achieve what they expect and plan. They do not hesitate to take risks, expect positive outcome of their effort, and are successful more often than not. Self confidence is the foundation of success.

Confidence Exhibitors

Your behaviour reflects confidence in many ways. It shows through your body language, your dress and how you carry yourself,  your manner of speaking, the content of your speech etc. Observe your own behaviour in different situations and understand where you stand.

Parental Influence and Self Confidence

Parents have a profound influence upon the level of confidence in the child. How a child feels about himself depends upon how he is cared for, loved by and treated by parents and other family members. Family environment is the foundation for confidence building. A child who grows up in a sensitive, caring, loving and encouraging family environment feels loved, happy and confident. On the other hand a child who grows up in a harsh, uncaring, critical and abusive home environment develops feelings of resentment. He is not too sure about himself, lacks confidence and sometimes develops an emotionally cold personality.

Causes of Low Self Confidence

Here is a list of important causes of low self confidence.

  • Unhappy childhood where parents and/ or significant other people like grand parents, close relatives, teachers neglect the child. Their behaviour is unloving, critical and abusive.
  • Family environment devoid of praise, warmth, encouragement and emotional support.
  • Failing to meet expectations of parents, and consequently parents reacting in a critical manner or their motivation style is negative.
  • Failing to meet standards of friends and being odd one out in the peer-group.
  • Being on the receiving end of stress or distress of parents or significant adults in the immediate environment.
  • Belonging to an ethnic group or family that society is prejudiced against.
  • Poor academic performance, comparison with siblings and others by parents and/ or teachers.
  • Stressful life events like loss of a loved one, financial problems in the family, relationship breakdown or being in an abusive relationship.
  • Physical disability, chronic illness, pain and ongoing health issues.
  • Emotional issues like excessive anger, mental illness like depression or anxiety disorder etc.
  • Fear, in general, is the most important reason for lack of confidence. Among various types of fears, fear of failure and fear of rejection are the most common contributors to lack of confidence.

Building Self-Confidence

Even though childhood experiences influence the level of self confidence, we need not think that we have little or no control on such things. We certainly can change the situation, but there is no five minutes quick fix formula to bring about this change. Self growth and learning is a continuous process. You can develop your self confidence by sincere, systematic and consistent efforts.  You need to focus on developing confidence, identify the strategies/ techniques which suit you, be determined to carry things through. Have patience, continue your efforts and you will be amazed with the results you get.

Some confidence building techniques are mentioned below. These have been used by different people for building self-confidence and overcoming fear.

Recognize and release your fear:

Think and list down your answers to the following questions:

What makes you uncomfortable?

What are you ashamed of?

What are your fears?

Whatever makes you uncomfortable, whatever you are ashamed of, whatever your fears are, understand where they are coming from. Go to the root cause of the problems. First accept yourself the way you are. Then accept your circumstances and situations. Every situation may not be actually as bad as it appears to be. Identify what is still relevant or of use in your life today and what you need to release. Whatever you need to release, write it in detail on a piece of paper. The real issue becomes much more clear to you when you write it. After writing tell yourself that you are no more uncomfortable with the issue, you are no more ashamed of —–, you are no more afraid of ——-. Then tear off this paper into small pieces. Now start feeling positive about your issues.

Identify and enjoy your successes:

Each one of us is having certain strengths. Discover the things you are good at, discover things in which you excel, identify your successes and focus on them. Take pride in your successes and talents. Feelings of inferiority breed victim mentality. Do not think that you are a victim of circumstances. Take credit for your successes and feel that you are a capable person. Focus on your successes instead of dwelling on your failures.

Have an attitude of gratitude:

Quite often the root of insecurity is the feeling of inadequacy or the feeling of not having enough of things. These things may be tangible material things in life like money, assets etc, or intangible things like good luck. Normally the tendency of many people is to keep cribbing about what they don’t have instead of focusing on and appreciating what they have. Think and list down all the tangible and intangible things you have. This list will be longer than your expectation. When you acknowledge and appreciate what you have, you combat the feelings of inadequacy and lack. Appreciate and enjoy what you have, and be grateful to all concerned including God or the Universe.

Smile:

Studies have revealed that body postures and emotions affect each other. Your smile can trigger positive emotions and uplift your mood. Look into the mirror and smile at yourself every day. Smile at people and say hello to them when you go for morning walk in the park. When somebody on the road seeks your help to find an address, smile while you give him the direction. You will notice the increase in your confidence level after some time.

Learn to accept compliments gracefully:

Many of us feel very awkward when we get compliments. We do not know how to respond when we get compliments. Acknowledge the compliment, look and smile at the person who has given the compliment, feel happy about it in your heart and say thank you gracefully.

Cultivate hobbies and express yourself:

Many people are not able to express their thoughts and feelings. Inability to express oneself is one of the important reasons of lack of confidence. Self expression helps to release mental blocks and build confidence. Writing is a very good way of expressing yourself. Other ways of self expression are arts like music, dance, painting, crafts etc. Acting and martial arts help you to break mental barriers and come out of your shell. Morning walk, yoga and other physical exercises help to maintain your body in shape and physically fit. You feel confident when you look smart and physically fit. Cultivate any hobby and express yourself through these hobbies. Hobbies have a therapeutic effect also. When you follow your passion you develop a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Do volunteer work & help others:

Participate in volunteer work. Get associated with a church or Gurudwara or Temple and do volunteer service on weekends. You may like to get associated with an NGO and devote some time for a positive social cause. These are platforms to interact with a variety of people which helps you to shed your inhibitions. Alternatively you can teach needy neighbourhood children. Helping others develops feelings of self worth and enhances confidence.

Rehearse and expect a positive outcome:

When you have to meet your boss, participate in an important meeting or make an important presentation, rehearse what you are going to say. Anticipate questions and think about the answers. Instead of worrying, expect a positive outcome of the meeting.

Visualize:

Visualization is a powerful technique of imagination. When you visualize something, you see it in your mind’s eye as vividly as if it were alive. Any picture, which you have in your mind, is the substance of things hoped for. What you form in your imagination is real and will one day appear in your objective world. This process of thinking forms impressions in your mind; these impressions in turn become manifested as facts and experiences in your life. The architect/ builder visualizes the type of building he would like to make, before the building is actually made.. Visualize yourself to be a confident person. Visualize that your dress style, your body language, your social interactions radiate confidence.

Practice affirmation:

Affirmation is an assertion that exits or is true. It is intended to provide encouragement and emotional support. It is a pronouncement or a declaration. Affirmations are short, powerful statements pronounced repeatedly to pass on  instructions to the mind. When you repeatedly speak them or think them or even hear them, they become the thoughts that create your reality. Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement because of their ability to rewire our brain. Like exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones and push our brain to form new clusters of positive thought. A very simple affirmation for building confidence may be “I am a confident person”.

Practice autosuggestion and change your self-talk:

Auto-suggestion means self-suggestion – suggesting something definite and specific to oneself. It includes self-talk and all self administered stimuli which reach one’s mind through the five senses. It is a very powerful medium for influencing the mind. No thought, whether it be negative or positive, can enter the mind without the aid of the principle of auto suggestion. A few auto suggestion statements are suggested here.

  1. I know I will do well in the interview and get selected.
  2. I know I will make an impactful presentation and my proposal will be approved by management.
  3. I have clearly written a description of my ambition. I will not stop working till I achieve it. I am confident that I will achieve my ambition.

Auto suggestion may be used to banish various fears, other negative conditions and self talk. Instead of indulging in negative self talk that you will not be successful in a given task, suggest to yourself that you will be successful. Use autosuggestion to banish your inner critic.

Forget your mistakes and forgive yourself:

We know that no one is perfect. The reality is that each individual has certain strength areas and certain areas where he lacks knowledge or ability.  Even the most confident people face challenges in certain areas. Consequently people make mistakes at different points of time on the bumpy ride of life. There is no need to cling to your mistakes and nurture inferiority feelings. No one is all good or all bad all the time. Making some mistakes doesn’t make you a hateful person and doing certain good things doesn’t make you a saint. Learn from your mistakes, forget them and move on. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and let go.

Avoid pleasing others:

The habit of pleasing others is common among people with low self confidence. You try to please others to get their love or respect or approval. When you are continuously trying to please others, you tend to neglect your own needs and yourself. Many people pleasers end up feeling used. They may also develop feelings of resentment. Just be your natural self. People will like you and love you for who you are and not what you do to please them.

Follow your principles:

You have to know what you cherish and then stand for it. It may be tough, but if your convictions are not clear you may fall for anything. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. No matter what’s happened to you in the past, no matter where you currently are in your life, you can take a decision that you will follow your principles from this day onwards. You will see in due course that people will appreciate you for your strength to stand on your principles.

High self-confidence helps you to bounce back from your mistakes. It helps you to absorb shocking life events like loss of job or loss of a loved one. Your beliefs have profound effect on your confidence level. With effort you can certainly release limiting beliefs and cultivate empowering beliefs.

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