Building Self-Confidence

“How can I have more confidence?” was his question. He knew there was a position available that would give him more money and more satisfying work. He just didn’t feel confident enough to “go for it.” I knew him well enough to know that he was more than qualified for the position, but I wanted to give him a good solid answer, one he could “take to the bank” so to speak. We needed a plan for building self-confidence.

According to Psychology Today, “Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s ability to succeed. Striking a healthy balance can be challenging. Too much of it and you can come off as cocky and stumble into unforeseen obstacles, but having too little can prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities—in school, at work, in your social life, and beyond.”

So how do I answer him? I could give him an off-the-top-of-my-head-response, but I felt that would be a cheat. As I thought about it, I realized there were several levels of effort in building confidence. Like an illness, you first treat the symptoms and then you go about the deep work of eliminating the cause of the illness and restoring health.  So, in reality, there is a short-term and long-term approach to the solution.

Building Self-confidence

Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem.

Short-Term Solution/Self-Efficacy

With Self-Efficacy we see ourselves mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that if we concentrate on a particular area and work hard at it, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks. My friend had self-efficacy. He had the skills and knowledge to do the job he wanted.

Brushing up on his skills and improving in one area was short term. If you want to change careers or learn a whole new field, Self-efficacy could be long term. Either way, you need to know what is keeping you from knowing that you have mastered the skills and knowledge it takes?

Identify the present problem

Realizing that there is no “one-size-fits-all answer, it is important to ask “What is it that makes you feel that you lack confidence? Answer the following question with the first thought that pops into your mind, “I would be confident enough to _______ if_______. “ This answer may be superficial, but at least you have a starting place. In the case of my friend, he stated: “I would be confident enough to apply for the position if I knew for sure I had all the skills to succeed in the new position.” He lacked in self-efficacy. We reviewed his skills.

Formulate a plan to deal with it/Develop self-efficacy.

It may be something as simple as improving appearance. It may entail practicing with someone for the interview. Perhaps it requires writing a resumé that shouts, “Pick me!” and writing resumés is not a strength.  It may require addressing more than one issue. You may need to get a new suit, have your hair cut/styled or have your makeup done so you feel good about your appearance.

Perhaps you need to sharpen a skill or gather more information about the position. Whatever has been identified as a need, FIX IT. In the case of my friend, he needed to go through the job description and do a realistic assessment of his skills in light of the requirements of the job. He simply needed to learn a computer program that was easily within his reach.

Now ask the question again. “What do need to do to be able to _______? If you get an answer, work toward fixing it by honing a skill, improving your appearance, learning something relevant that assists you in the endeavor.

Long-Term Solution/Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. This comes from knowing that others approve of us as well as from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we’re competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it. So what goes into healthy self-esteem?

Know who you are.

This is the foundation for success in everything that you do and want. Can you answer the questions?

Who am I?  Who are you apart from the roles you play or the relationships you have? Do you identify yourself as someone’s mother or father, their spouse, their son or daughter? Do you define yourself by your job? Your social status? Who are you without those identifiers. Think it through.

What do I want? Do you know what you want or are you following a path that someone else set for you? How did you determine what you want your life to look like?

 Do I know what do I believe? What do you believe that you have thought through for yourself and accepted? What do you believe that you were taught you HAD to believe? Have you thought those through for yourself?

What are my Strengths and Weaknesses? It is not arrogance to admit and identify your strengths. We all have some. What are yours? Neither does it make you incompetent or “bad” to admit you have weaknesses, but it is good to know what they are. What are yours?

Drop the Judgment. Have you ever been asked the question, “Who made you God?” or “Who appointed you as the judge?” Are you continuously judging yourself and finding yourself lacking in some way? Are you continuously judging others based on your own projections? (We generally accuse others of having the faults that are present and perhaps undiscovered in ourselves) If the answer to this is “yes” then you need to do some serious work on self-acceptance.

Tools for Self-Confidence

Tony Robbins says, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” It’s up to you to make those changes you need to make. Below you will find some tools to help you along the way.

Fitness: Good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep all contribute to fitness and fitness is an undergirding of self-confidence. If you feel rotten physically you probably have rotten confidence. ‘nuff said.

Meditation: helps you develop those insights into yourself that contribute to self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-confidence. It’s this “inner work” that is essential to success, happiness, and well-being.

Service to others: Helping others, paying it forward, random acts of kindness all contribute to your self-esteem and, therefore, your confidence.

Small successes: doing little things that bring success, and progressively increasing the difficulty of the “things” will have a big payoff in terms of self-confidence. Plan for these successes and take action.

The Dalai Lama says: With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Dalai Lama

And what about my friend? He will definitely be applying for that position.

For a great book on Confidence check out the Self Improvement Store










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