It’s cliche, but confidence is important in all aspects of life: You need confidence to apply for jobs and bid for higher pay. You need it to tell your crush you’ll love to have coitus with them. Without it, your statements will sound like questions, and your worth will be questioned. Without it, you simply lose.
Many people who struggle with confidence think it is something some people are born with. I know this because I also used to think that way. I would look at young dumb and broke guys convincing bodacious ladies to be their girlfriends and I would wonder how they did it, or worse, what was wrong with me. Other times I would see other writers charging high dollars to do relatively little work and I would wonder why I fear so much to charge my worth.
Well, I’ve learned. And, I hope to teach you all the dirty little secrets about confidence and how to build it in this blog post.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Confidence?
Confidence is the belief in your own qualities, abilities, and judgement. It is the feeling of self-assurance that allows you to take risks, try new things, and stand up for yourself.
I know there’s a lot of loaded words there. So, let’s unpack.
- Belief: Belief is simply what you think about something or someone. It is subjective, which means it is not necessarily a true reflection of reality, nor does it have to be about reality. Beliefs can be sparked in an instant, and they can also be quenched in the twinkling of an eye. If you were a car, your belief is your fuel. Without it, you have no drive (pun intended).
- Qualities: Qualities refer to the substance of things – it is what is objectively real and true. For example, you are a human being (with fundamental human rights). You can be tall, dark, strong, and fast. You can also be funny, intelligent, or rich. All those are qualities you possess, and they are a fact, whether you believe it or not. In order words, you can believe you are ugly whilst you possess the quality of cuteness.
- Abilities: Abilities refers to the things you can do as a result of your beliefs and qualities. For example, if you are tall and muscular and believe you can fight, then you can (you have the ability). If you believe you are smart and have ten fingers, you can develop your ability to type/write. Ability is the offshoot of qualities and beliefs.
- Judgement: Judgement falls in the realm of thinking and decision-making. It refers to your ability to make the best decisions based on what you know at the moment. Your judgement guides your abilities. If you often make decisions that lead to favourable outcomes that means you have good judgement, but if your decisions are often flawed and backfire, then your judgement is questionable.
In other words, confidence is simply how high or low someone thinks of their intricate features, their dynamic capabilities, and their ability to make good decisions. If you think highly of your features, capabilities, and ability to make decisions, you are confident (at least, in the field or aspect of your life you feel that way), and the reverse is also true.
Before we delve into the ways you can increase your confidence, it is critical to highlight what confidence is not.
Narcissism Vs Confidence: What Does True Confidence Look Like?
Narcissism is often confused with confidence because from afar it seems that both the confident and the narcissistic person value and love themselves. However, they are very distinct.
- Confidence refers to belief in oneself (qualities, abilities, and judgment), while narcissism is an inflated sense of self-importance. Confident people have a realistic assessment of their abilities, while narcissists overestimate their own worth.
- A narcissist, unlike a confident person, would always need recognition and admiration from others whilst giving others no credit (or discrediting them).
- Narcissists often believe that they are superior to others and that they deserve special treatment, whilst confident person believes they are important and also seeks to treat other people well because they believe others are also valuable in their own way.
- Confident people are interested in helping others and building relationships. Narcissists, on the other hand, are only interested in getting their own needs met.
- Whilst confident person will not hesitate to speak up about their qualities and abilities, they differ from a narcissist who is often boastful, arrogant, and manipulative.
- Confident people are open to feedback and are willing to learn from their mistakes, but narcissists are often defensive and refuse to accept criticism.
In short, narcissism is a personality disorder while confidence is a healthy character trait that takes time to develop.
Some other toxic traits that are often confused with confidence include:
- Rudeness: Confident people may be assertive, but they are not disrespectful.
- Arrogance: Confident people may be confident in their abilities, but they do not put others down.
- Selfishness: Confident people may be focused on their own goals, but they are also willing to help others achieve their goals.
If you are unsure whether you are confident or narcissistic, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I open to feedback?
- Am I respectful of others?
- Am I interested in helping others?
- Am I aware of my own limitations?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you are probably confident. However, if you answered no to most of these questions, then you may be narcissistic.
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How To Build and Increase Your Confidence:
One of the most confident people I knew was my Dad. He was a preacher. As a preacher, he often addressed large congregations. Considering the fear of public speaking is prolly one of the greatest fears in the world, that speaks volumes on its own.
But, what was his secret? Well, as a preacher he had read the Bible cover to cover multiple times. He also read concordances, as well as other relevant literature. He consumed and was consumed by the teaching of the Bible to the point he could link almost any idea, circumstance, and event to something in the scriptures. He spoke of the teaching of Jesus like it were his own words because he had submerged himself in the scriptures. He wasn’t trying to be confident, he simply was expressing who he had become.
You don’t try to be confident. You become confident. It is a process of transformation. And, that is why it is often said, “(s)he changed”.
When I started out writing, I wasn’t confident. My contents were selfish, confusing, full of errors, and seldom useful to anyone. However, after 5 years of writing almost every day, taking courses, and getting numerous good reviews from clients and readers I simply became confident in my ability to write.
To build your confidence:
Identify your strengths and gifts:
Take time to think about your strengths and talents. This might be things you already know you are good at, or things people have consistently pointed out to you that you have a flair for. Before I ventured into writing, I tried out Art. And, this was because most of my friends admired the little sketches I did on the back of my books.
Taking note of things like this makes you begin to see your worth, and as you explore and get more positive feedback, it tends to boost how you think of yourself; which as we’ve discussed earlier is what confidence is all about.
Make a List of Your Accomplishments
Put pen to paper and list as many accomplishments of yours as possible. This exercise will give you concrete evidence that you have good qualities, abilities, and good judgments. For me, this involved taking note of the 125+ blog posts I’ve published on this blog, the 6+ books I’ve authored, the dozens of contents I’ve written as a ghostwriter, and so on. Taking note that I’ve written over 1M words within the past 5 years gave my confidence as a writer a massive and rock-solid boost. Astalavista Imposter syndrome
Set realistic goals for yourself:
If you are venturing into new waters, it is important that you set goals that are not too difficult or unrealistic. This is because such goals can lead to disappointment which ends up causing you to question your qualities, abilities, as well as judgement.
Instead, set goals that are challenging but achievable. When you reach your goals, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and your confidence will grow as highlighted in tip 2.
Rather than trying to write a book within your first month of starting a course on writing, why not write a short blog post about a topic you are conversant with?
Take care of yourself:
When you take care of yourself, you will feel better about yourself and your confidence will rise. There are numerous ways you can take care of yourself:
- You can take care of your body and mind by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough rest.
- You can also take care of your self-image by wearing nice clothes, jewels, and fragrances.
- You can take care of your heart by listening to good music or taking yourself out.
The point here is to treat yourself like someone valuable and worth all the love in the world. The aim is to improve how you see yourself, hence increase your confidence.
To feel good about yourself, you must do things that make you feel good about yourself. And, oftentimes those things are challenging. But, who said you can’t do difficult things? You really don’t know how strong you are until you are tested. Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. This could be anything from talking to strangers to learning a new skill.
When you challenge yourself and come out victorious, you begin to think better of yourself – this is beside the added abilities and accomplishments you gain in the process. If lack of confidence is self-doubt, perhaps it’s time to produce some concrete evidence to counter the doubt. Get to work. Screw what you think of yourself, and focus on executing. You will be amazed when you look back. And, when you look back, remember tip 2.
Practise positive self-talk:
The way you talk to yourself has a big impact on your confidence. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the things you are good at. I am not the type that stands in front of a mirror and says sweet things to myself, but I try as much as possible to have subtle positive reminders all around me.
If you’re going to talk to yourself or say anything about yourself, let it be something good and empowering. Yes, you are not perfect, but you are trying.
Surround yourself with positive people:
The people you spend time with can have a big impact on your confidence. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and who support your goals.
There are times when things may get difficult and you may start to despair because you’ve gotten lost in the smoke – unable to see the future hope or past victories. It is times like that that good friends move in with fresh perspectives and blow away the smoke. They remind you that a single failure or a bad day does not mean you are a failure or won’t succeed in future. They remind you of the things you’ve been blinded to due to your circumstances.
I’ve had friends who spent almost an hour telling me of how much value I was, sometimes calling into my consciousness some things I took for granted. Such friends are critical if you want to build your confidence. Pick your friends wisely (as toxic friends can tear you down and make you doubt yourself).
Visualise yourself succeeding:
Take some time to imagine yourself achieving your goals. This simple ritual can help you to stay motivated and to believe in yourself. You can do it just before starting a task, or early in the morning before you start your routine. This is also one of the arguments for the benefits of prayers. Even though visualising yourself winning doesn’t objectively influence the circumstances, it subjectively affects how you behave (in this case, confidently) which increases your chances of achieving the goal.
For example, if you have a presentation, you can take some time to imagine how the whole scenario will play out, and how you will speak and gesture. Doing this over and over again in your mind helps you believe you can do it, and in effect increases your confidence when the moment arrives.
Don’t compare yourself to others:
Everyone is different, and so are their paths, timelines, and yardsticks. This is the reason women don’t compete with men in sports. Yes, women should feel confident in their ability to play soccer or run sprints, but it is unfair and harmful to pit them against men who are biologically faster, stronger, and tougher.
Even if you are a male in a class of males, that doesn’t mean comparison is justified. You do not share the same IQ, family, finances, or drives with them. It is always an individual race, and comparing yourself to others will only make you feel less confident.
If you must compare, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
Building confidence takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Remember when I mentioned writing for 5 years?!
It is not the day you plant a seed that you’ll reap the fruits. You just have to keep working at it, and you will eventually start noticing the difference.
Conclusion: Confidence Requires Comfort With Failure
While the tips above can help you build your confidence, one of the most important mindset shifts you can make is embracing failure. When you think about it, the lack of confidence boils down to the fear of failure. If you are not confident talking to ladies, it is because you fear they may reject you, and if you fear addressing a crowd it is because you fear getting booed for saying something wrong.
However, if you learn to be okay with failure, then you can easily talk to the ladies whether you get rejected or not. You can talk to the crowd whether you get booed or not. People who are confident are not those who don’t fail, but those who do not care if they fail.
Building confidence through failure is a counterintuitive truth. We often think of failure as something to be avoided, but it can actually be a powerful tool for growth and self-improvement. When we embrace negative experiences and accept failure as a natural part of life, we open ourselves up to the opportunity to learn and grow. This can lead to greater confidence, fearlessness, and compassion.
Perhaps the main lesson here is to prioritise your objective over your ego and fears.
If you still find yourself struggling to build your confidence despite all these, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor. They can help you to identify the underlying causes of your low confidence and develop more tailored strategies to improve it.
A Self-Help Writer And Editor Who Keeps It Simple (Yet Elegant)