What is self-confidence? It
is a belief that we have a fundamental ability to manage our lives.
We believe in ourselves. We trust our basic tools: our mind (as an
accurate processor of facts and reality), our emotions (as authentic
expressions of who we are), and our actions (as effective instruments
to fulfill our needs and desires). Even if we encounter obstacles and
our own shortcomings, we know that we can attain attainable goals
after we get the necessary skills and knowledge.
The benefits from
We are more productive, because we pursue tasks without the
distractions of unnecessary doubt and fear. We are more assertive,
because we feel that our life is legitimate, so therefore our
demands must also be legitimate. We contribute our opinions and
actions because we feel that we have something worthwhile to add.
We believe that we can conduct all aspects of our life, so we take
responsibility for them; this gives us control over them, and
makes us less dependent on other people. The resulting autonomy
makes us attractive in social situations and in the job market;
people know that our self-confidence will make us expressive and
dynamic rather than passive and needy. Self-confidence gives us
courage. We believe in our innate capacity to succeed in whatever
we attempt, so we try new adventures, and we are creative. We see
life as a series of opportunities which are within our
capabilities, rather than a series of overwhelming crises. Even if
we fail in an undertaking, self-confidence retains our sense of
general competence -- and it lets us believe that we can do better
next time, so we are motivated to learn from the mistakes that
caused that failure, and then try again; the result is that we
will do better next time. Without self-confidence, we
might not try again at all.
for developing self-confidence.
We can base our self-confidence on reality. Self-confidence
has a potential for self-deception and self-destruction when we
say, "I can do anything I set my mind to." This myth exists
because it comes true for certain people who set particular
reachable goals, but it might imply that self-confidence is all
that we need; this leads to overconfidence. Certain
aspirations require tremendous resources of money, time, patience,
technical abilities, determination, talent, intelligence,
psychological skills, social dexterity, and so on. We can acquire
some of those resources to reach the goal, but we need to be
realistic about other factors before we invest our
self-confidence. For example, at my age, I will never become the
quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, no matter how much I "set my
mind to it."
Justify the self-confidence. Self-confidence is a belief in
our fundamental capability, but it isn't enough to assure success;
some people are more "sure of themselves" than they have a right
to be. For example, self-confidence might deceive a job
interviewer, but we will flounder (and be fired) if we don't have
the abilities which we claimed. In any given situation, if we
don't have the resources mentioned earlier (including intelligence
and talent), our self-confidence is empty and foolish.
Develop self-confidence by looking at the successes. The way
to strengthen our belief that we are capable of success is by
looking at our past successes; our capability is a historical
fact. We make a mental note of everything that works out for us,
and we acknowledge our good feeling about those events. Because
self-confidence is strengthened every time we recognize success,
we need to notice it whenever it occurs -- not just in major
accomplishments, but in every occasion in which we intend an
action and competently follow through, whether we "successfully"
drove to work, or washed our dishes, or made our children happy.
Develop self-confidence by creating attainable goals.
Self-confidence is fortified whenever we achieve goals, so the
goals we create must be ones which present an appropriate amount
of challenge. If our goals are unrealistically high, we fail and
then have to perform damage-repair on our self-confidence. But if
our goals are too low, we are telling ourselves that we lack
competence and, again, our self-confidence is injured.
Be with people who believe in you. While we are telling
ourselves about our competence, we can find other people who will
tell us the same things. These "cheerleaders" encourage us to
reach for success, and they support us and motivate us.
Express your self-confidence. When we act self-confident, we
gain people's trust; we are someone who can manage life with poise
and effectiveness. We show our self-confidence by acting
comfortable and relaxed, using body language which is expressive
and assertive (not defensive or aggressive), talking about
ourselves as if we are capable, and showing a warm smile and a
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