I like to think of self-confidence as a key ingredient of what makes up a flourishing life.
Self-confidence is trusting in yourself. I like to call it “having your own back”. When I have my own back as it applies to:
- Who I am
- What I believe
- The decisions I make
- How I show up in relationships, work, and life in general
Then I know that no matter what happens, I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be more than okay.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes. I certainly do. But I don’t make the mistakes mean something about me. I don’t dwell on them for too long. I don’t replay events in my mind and beat myself up for how they did or didn’t go. I have my own back. So I learn from it, and I move on.
There are some common misconceptions about self-confidence that can actually keep you in self doubt.
I want to talk about these misconceptions because I want you to see where they might be showing up in your life and keeping you from what you want.
#1 – If you have self-confidence it’s because you were born with it. You either have it or you don’t – from birth.
No. No. No. Here’s how I know this isn’t true.
I had self-confidence in my early 20s.
Then my self-confidence eroded for almost a decade until it was essentially non-existent.
And now I have it again.
BAM. Myth debunked.
If you would like to hear more about my story, send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll tell you all about it. I promise a real human – me – will answer you!)
If you want more evidence than just my anecdotal story, then ask yourself this:
Do you feel confident in some areas of your life but not others?
The answer is most likely “yes”. You might feel confident at work but have a lot of self-doubt in your parenting. Or you might feel confident at parenting, but have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to money.
If you were born with self-confidence, it stands to reason that you’d have self-confidence in every area of your life.
But if you experience self-confidence in some areas and self-doubt in other areas, you can be sure it’s because of how you are THINKING about those areas of your life, and not because of something you were born with (or weren’t born with).
#2 – You have to be experienced in something before you can be confident enough to actually do it.
No. No. No. A big fat NO. Completely false.
Listen. If this were true, then my sweet angel baby would have never walked. She would never have tried drinking from a sippy cup when we transitioned her away from a bottle. She would never have jumped off the couch into a pile of blankets.
No experience, therefore no confidence, therefore can’t do it.
Somewhere along the way, we stop doing things because we think “I’m not confident in that”.
I think it happens once we become aware that other people have opinions of us.
If we don’t have a strong opinion of ourselves (i.e. if we don’t have a strong foundation of who we are), then we just rely on what other people think of us to define us.
We have to fight this with everything we have. And how we do this is by building the trust and confidence in ourselves.
Trust and confidence in ourselves will never be cultivated by standing on the sidelines WAITING to get confident.
That isn’t how it works.
Instead, we do the thing. We stay in compassion for ourselves NO MATTER WHAT. We don’t talk down to ourselves. We don’t call it quits.
Instead we ask ourselves “What worked?” “What didn’t work?” “What would I do differently?” And we don’t emotionally charge our answers. We stay in compassion and stay neutral (meaning, we don’t make our answers mean anything about us).
#3 – Confidence = Arrogance.
The official definition of self-confidence is:
A feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.
The official definition of arrogance is:
Having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
Let’s take a closer look at how truly different self-confidence and arrogance are.
An arrogant person thinks they are actually better than someone else and they go about trying to prove it to themselves and others.
A self-confident person doesn’t even play in the comparison game. They believe that all humans are capable and altogether worthy. A self-confident person is comfortable in their own abilities and knows that thought is available to anyone that wants it.
Arrogance comes from lack. An arrogant person is exaggerating their abilities to make up for what they think they lack.
Self-confidence comes from abundance. A self-confident person doesn’t have to make up for anything because they are comfortable with who they are – they are comfortable with everything about themselves.
Arrogant people have a gap between who they really are and who they project themselves to be (who they put themselves out in the world as). They do this because at their core, they aren’t able to handle rejection.
Self-confident people have no gap between who they are and who they put themselves out into the world as. They are so accepting and loving of themselves, that when they do experience rejection (or any other negative emotion) it doesn’t create a downward spiral of negative self-talk and self-loathing. They don’t get stuck in it.
#4 – Self-Confidence comes from what other people think about you.
This can be a tricky one at first – especially for people that have built the image of themselves based on what other people think about them.
I have been trying to untangle this web in my own life for a long time.
What I’ve learned is that people’s opinion of you will change – especially if you keep growing and changing yourself.
When I relied on what other people thought of me to create my own self-image, things were going great while people thought I was amazing!
But then when they stopped thinking I was amazing, I adopted that view of myself too.
And I spiraled out of control. I held such a negative view of myself. I was mean to myself. I stopped being willing to receive constructive feedback because I couldn’t handle the feelings of rejection and perceived failure.
Here’s why adopting someone else’s opinion of you as your own doesn’t work.
When you do this – you subject yourself to the opinion of every single person you encounter. That is A LOT of thoughts and opinions to manage. I get exhausted just thinking about the energy it used to take me to manage all these external opinions. And all I ended up feeling was empty and lacking. It was awful.
And here’s the breaking news – you can’t control what other people think of you anyway. It’s their thoughts. (And what other people think of me is none of my business).
So we have to do the work of building our own foundation of who we are and how we view ourselves. When we do this, we aren’t shaken by what is happening outside of us ( which we can’t control anyway).
If you do this work, get ready to have loads of newfound mental energy and headspace to go do amazing things.
#5 – Once I become confident, I will never feel self doubt again.
Ha. This is funny.
We often think of our personal development trajectory as a straight upward sloping line.
In reality it’s a squiggly, looping, zig-zagging line that has a general upward slope.
Here’s what really happens.
You might overcome an emotion that is currently debilitating for you – say rejection. And you think that because you overcame it, you will never feel it again.
But what actually happens is that something will happen and you’ll feel rejection again. You might say “I thought I was past this! I guess I’m not as far along as I thought I was!”
What’s actually happening is that you are feeling a core human feeling – rejection. But you won’t stay in the feeling of rejection as long as you would have before. It doesn’t take you to the lowest depths of rejection like it used to. You are able to notice it and identify what’s happening. You might say “What I’m experiencing is the feeling of rejection. It sucks. But I also know that this rejection doesn’t define me.” And then you go to work applying the tools you have learned to move through the feeling quicker than you ever would have before.
Don’t overcome a negative emotion with the goal of never feeling it again. You just get better at processing it.
When you build a strong foundation rooted in self-confidence, you can feel the negative emotion – (and even welcome it in, because you know it’s coming along anyway!), and keep moving forward.
What you’ve learned is how to spend 5 minutes (or maybe 5 hours) in the negative emotion, and not 5 years. This alone will change your life.
If you are ready to do the work of overcoming your self-doubt and cultivating some badass self-confidence, I want you to reach out.
You can email me with the subject line “I’m ready to overcome my self-doubt” or just “I’m ready” will do :). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get to work!
Or you can go to www.theflourishingmind.com/schedule to book a free discovery call.
This is some of the most important work you will do. Doing this work – building a strong foundation in self-confidence – is kind of like treating the problem, and not just managing the symptoms of the problem.
If you do this work, everything in your life gets better.