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What to do When Uncertainty Steals Your Self-Confidence

Henry Dumas

Everyone admires a self-confident person. We may even envy them a little! Self-confident people seem at ease with themselves and their work. They invite trust and inspire confidence in others. These are attractive characteristics.

It is not always easy to be confident in yourself, particularly in times of Uncertainty, if you're naturally self-critical, or if other people put you down. But there are steps that you can take to increase and maintain your self-confidence.

What is Self-Confidence – and Why Is It Important?

Self-confidence is understanding that you trust your own judgment and abilities and that you value yourself and feel worthy, regardless of any imperfections or of what others may believe about you.

Self-efficacy and self-esteem are sometimes used interchangeably with self-confidence, but they are subtly different.

We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others like us) mastering skills and achieving goals. This encourages us to believe that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we will succeed. It is this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges and to keep going in the face of setbacks.

Self-esteem is a general sense that we can cope with what is going on in our lives and that we have a right to be happy.

Also, self-esteem comes in part from the feeling that the people around us approve of us. We may or may not be able to control this, and if we experience a lot of criticism or rejection from other people, our self-esteem can easily suffer unless we support it in other ways.

Confidence and Behavior

Look at the examples in the table below, which compares confident behavior with behavior that's associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognize in yourself and in the people around you?

Confident Behavior

Behavior Associated With Low Self-Confidence

Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.

Governing your behavior based on what other people think.

Being willing to take risks and to go the extra mile to achieve better things.

Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure, and avoiding risk.

Admitting your mistakes and learning from them.

Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.

Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.

Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.

Accepting compliments graciously. "Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I'm pleased you recognize my efforts."

Dismissing compliments offhandedly. "Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it."

As these examples show, low self-confidence can be self-destructive, and it may manifest itself as negativity.

Self-confident people are generally more positive – they value themselves and trust their own judgment. But they also acknowledge their failures and mistakes and learn from them.

Why Self-Confidence Matters

Self-confidence is vital in almost every aspect of our lives, yet many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can be a vicious cycle: people who lack self-confidence are less likely to achieve the success that could give them more confidence.

For example, you might not want to back a project that is pitched by someone who's visibly nervous, fumbling, or constantly apologizing. On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, who holds their head high, answers questions with assurance, and readily admits when they do not know something.

Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their co-workers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways to succeed. Building confidence creates the feeling of certainty that you can accomplish what you set out to do. Confidence is like any other emotion. It is something you feel, and you can train yourself to access it in an instant.  Below are some tips for building your self-confidence:

1. USE CONFIDENT BODY LANGUAGE

Even if you do not feel confident all the time, you can appear confident when needed by adjusting your body language. Research suggests that, when you project confidence through your actions, the degree to which you “feel” those actions makes the confidence feel real, too. To put this principle into action, tell yourself you can achieve your goal. Then feel the feeling of confidence you are projecting. With practice, building confidence becomes natural.

2. DEVELOP WORKPLACE CONFIDENCE

Learning how to build confidence is pivotal to succeeding in your career. Whether you are in marketing, management, or another role, you must be able to communicate with self-assurance. Sales strategies are effective confidence-builders in any field. Achieve large success by building confidence with proven sales strategies.

3. EMBRACE A GROWTH MINDSET

Discovering self-confidence requires consistent action and thought. When you are overcoming your self-doubt, having a growth mindset is key. When you view your challenges as opportunities, you can approach them with assurance. View setbacks as progress, so they become part of mastering how to build confidence.

4. PRACTICE POSITIVE THINKING

Feeling confident starts from within with positive thinking. When you are building confidence, learn how to reframe your mindset to start thinking more positively, and feel more self-assured as a result. We are not talking about wearing rose-colored glasses – we are talking about having a realistic sense of your capabilities. Build a habit of positive self-talk. View setbacks as steppingstones to success.

5. LET GO OF THE NEED FOR CONTROL

When you are focused on retaining a sense of control in life, it reduces your confidence. Nothing in life is truly within our control. By letting go, you can accept circumstances as-is, which is a powerful component of learning how to build confidence. Learn how to recognize your need for control. Take steps toward letting go and finding a true sense of contentment and confidence in life.

6. ACCEPT YOURSELF

When you are learning how to build confidence, it is tempting to focus on your “ideal self” – the person you wish you were, a superhero who never experiences fear, doubt, or shame. While managing negative emotions is certainly part of building confidence, shutting down your feelings does not help. Accept yourself as you are in any emotional state. Accept yourself unconditionally. Look at your feelings objectively and appreciate what they teach you about yourself.

7. TREAT OTHERS WITH RESPECT AND COMPASSION

When it comes to building confidence, how you treat others is as important as how you treat yourself. When you practice “soft skills” like respect, compassion, empathy, and deep listening, you build rapport with others. When you feel good about your relationships, you are mastering how to gain confidence with every interaction you have.

8. APPRECIATE YOUR VALUES AND LIVE BY THEM

Part of the problem with self-doubt is that you begin to doubt the core of who you are – the values that inspire you and guide your decisions. To truly learn how to build confidence, take pride in your values. They make you uniquely you. And when you make value-driven choices, there is no room for doubt. You are living up to your own standards, and that is the definition of an extraordinary life filled with passion and purpose.

9. START WORKING OUT

Many people start working out to lose weight or build muscle, but exercise can also be a huge boost to your self-confidence. The American Psychological Association has noted that exercise can improve your mood and — along with regular treatment and therapy — help combat depression and anxiety. It can also help improve your confidence if you stick with it for a while. Working out regularly requires a commitment, and keeping that commitment is an accomplishment. Not only does sticking to a new healthy habit make you feel more confident, but you can also spot physical improvements to your body and health over the long term.

Particularly in this environment of Uncertainty, practice these steps to build your self-confidence. This will serve you in business and life – It will also allow you to be a source of Light to those around you!

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