Confidence isn’t something anyone else can give you — you have to earn it for yourself. People from all walks of life — regardless of their age, race, socioeconomic background or gender identity — have struggled to gain self-confidence for generations. The harsh truth is that in the age of social media, the bar is even higher.
Self-esteem is one of the many aspects of child development. Our environment and hereditary traits help shape who we become, and our environments, interests and outlook on life will change as we grow.
The experiences we have as a child inevitably influence the decisions we make later in life. If we have a bike accident, we may be more hesitant to get back on. If we score a goal for the opposing team, we may be hesitant to play the sport again. Those are the moments that suddenly affect the role our self-confidence plays in our day-to-day life.
For various reasons, we tell ourselves we can’t control our self-confidence, but that’s completely untrue. Think of it like watching television. You sit down on the couch, grab the remote and begin to browse what is playing. You know your interests and your favorite channels, and you have control over whether you’ll watch the nightly news or the latest reality show.
Just like tuning to a channel, you can fine-tune the mindset in your head. You can be in a situation where you don’t know the outcome (what will be on television), but you know your preferences. Everything is in your hands, and so is your self-confidence. It says it right in the word: self. This is for you, and you only, to control.
Finding the confidence you need also involves both self-love and acceptance, even though pressure from society may try to tell you otherwise. Scrolling through the internet and seeing people you may know — or worse, complete strangers — and assuming they’re brimming with self-confidence can only destroy your own.
Just because someone may be putting an idealized image of themselves out there or is highly skilled at something does not mean they are fully confident in everything and anything. Without being fully secure in your body and who you are, you won’t have the self-confidence that will have you walking with your chin held high and blinders on to the negative influences.
Self-worth or self-esteem is a trait behind overall self-confidence. These are the thoughts we have about ourselves — whether they concern our abilities or our appearance. If you have low self-esteem, it can not only set you up for failing at a nonexistent perfection, but can cause your mood to decrease significantly due to depression or self-abuse, whether that be physical or mental.
Numerous factors play a role in our self-confidence, including:
All these things carry weight in our minds. We create an idealized image of ourselves in our heads, and if we don’t achieve to a specific level or develop a certain trait, we develop bad habits like negative self-talk. There is a major difference between wanting to give that 1 percent more every day and become a better person and harming ourselves if we don’t achieve it.
The self-confidence we want is to be able to be ourselves, be secure in our thoughts and ideas and enjoy the gifts life gives us. We are all capable of feeling and expressing those things, whether internally or to others. However, in the perfect life we created in our mind, we set deadlines, and if we don’t meet them, our self-confidence lowers even more. We begin to feel worthless, shy and unable to fully live in the moment.
Every person gains confidence differently. Some may gain it with big, life-changing experiences, while others may only attain it after surrounding themselves with people who make them whole. Either way, it can take time to build the confidence you want and deserve, so don’t think you’re behind schedule at 35 — or even older. There’s always room for mistakes, but having confidence means you’re comfortable enough to expect and welcome them.
You can be the most outgoing people-pleaser in the room, but we’ve all had those moments when our shyness takes over. Some tend to be shyer than others, but that’s normal and OK. Imagine if everyone in the world was extroverted to the same degree — it’s impossible! There’s always someone whose personality will be stronger than everyone else’s in the group.
Although it’s completely normal to be timid, you don’t want it to take over how you live your life.
The main objective is to give yourself the love you need and deserve. Self-love is one of the first steps you should take to not only master your confidence, but those over-timid bones in your body. If you take those moments for yourself every day, it will help your overall attitude and outlook on life.
Do you like reading? Read a book.
Do you like playing basketball? Go shoot those hoops.
Do you like movies? I’ve heard there are hundreds available on Netflix.
You must take advantage of the things you enjoy in life. They are there for a reason, and I am here to tell you: You are not alone.
Feeling self-doubt can happen anywhere and at any point in your life — embrace it! These shy thoughts are exactly that: thoughts. You can talk to anyone. You can do anything. Stop putting pressure on yourself that you have to do everything a certain way. Dr. Kristen Neff stated it perfectly: “Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up.”
These are when the moments of self-love really come into play. Without being fully in love with yourself, you won’t be able to enjoy the other things in life. Look at it from this standpoint: Some people practically make a hobby out of interacting with other people. They love it, so they do it. However, because they go out of their way to talk to strangers, it’s easy to assume these extroverts have all the confidence in the world and aren’t shy one bit. Wrong. Ask them to talk to the person they admire most or strike up a conversation with a world leader. Do you think they won’t be timid then?
Let me clarify something — shyness doesn’t have to be just about talking to people. It can appear in every aspect of life. The great thing about that? Conquering it requires the same process: loving who you are and embracing it.
Just when you think you’ve found comfort in your personal life, you get thrown into the “real world” of the workforce. Suddenly, you meet a whole group of strangers who are from every spectrum of life. Building your confidence at work is a constant challenge. Whether you’re new, or a veteran introducing yourself to a new hire, the workplace is a balancing act.
Start with the basics:
It may be the 21st century, but there is still a gap when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. Could it be possible low self-confidence is a result? A message feminists have been challenging for years is that women have less self-confidence compared to men, which hurts their chances at success. One side could argue women don’t give themselves the credit they deserve, while the other side could come back to say men are “natural leaders” in whatever the industry may be.
Whichever side you may be on, it can be intimidating for either gender to have a conversation with a higher-up. However, a man might have more built-in confidence that he can handle it. Study after study confirms men are more confident than women, even in situations where they are unqualified or underprepared. Women, meanwhile, hold themselves to a much higher standard of perfection.
It’s been factually researched that women are more emotional than men, which can affect the way we live. If you are a woman, you spend more time during your average workday thinking about what’s next: dinner, kids, errands, etc. For men, they solely focus on one thing: work. A study from Advances in Physiology Education found men tend to overestimate their intelligence and academic abilities, while women tend to underestimate them.
Although the outsider’s perspective is men appear more confident, women have a different viewpoint. In several studies today, women have said they see themselves equally as capable of succeeding in their professional roles. Facebook COO and billionaire Sheryl Sandberg published a book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, the premise of which is that working women should take the leap of confidence, or “lean in.” All women are capable of doing this, but when we allow our self-esteem to dip, it shows.
“When I started my career, I often avoided situations that put me outside of my comfort zone. Once I learned to embrace a bit of discomfort, my confidence quickly increased and I realized that these situations weren’t challenges, but opportunities — and they often became my best learning experiences, as well as my most rewarding professional achievements.” — Alison Nest, executive director, Investment Solutions, Wealth Management
“Don’t be afraid to look at people who have already blazed a trail, but keep it authentic and give it your own spin.” — Sarah Kunst, founder and CEO of Proday.co
“We all suffer from some degree of negative self-talk. It’s human nature to hold ourselves to our highest standards, and women, in particular, suffer from both perfectionist and imposter syndrome. Next time you hear that inner critic raising her voice, call her out. And then practice being as compassionate with yourself as you are with everyone else in your life.” — Robyn Ward, CEO, FounderForward
“We have intuition for a reason, and it helps us with the big decisions like who to do work and go through life with, and also the small ones — like is that networking dinner worth a late night out before an early morning tomorrow? Steve Jobs even called intuition more powerful than intellect. Whether through a practice of spirituality, meditation or otherwise, learning to listen to and trust your intuition will keep you on track with your vision, unaffected by bumps in the road, and at peace with your decisions.” — Danielle Gano, founder and CEO, Elle Communications
“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” — Hillary Clinton, former U.S. senator and secretary of state
“Be prepared to spot growth opportunities when they present themselves — because they are the key learning opportunities. You’ll know because they make you uncomfortable, and your initial impulse may be that you’re not ready. But remember: Growth and comfort never coexist.” — Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM
Just like these successful women, you can shatter the gender gap of confidence, especially in the workplace. Take the leap and be that powerful businesswoman you want to be are.
Option 1: Congratulations, you just started your new job, and are ready to prove why you were the best choice for the position.
Option 2: Congratulations, you have been doing your job so well, you got a promotion.
Option 3: Congratulations, you have a job.
Whether you are on option 1, 2 or 3, there can still be that ounce of confidence missing. Building it, just like the rest of our life, starts with a realization: Everyone goes through it, and everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone is on the same path, and people advance in different times in their life, especially when it comes to the workplace.
Focus on your strengths, instead of any perceived weaknesses. It’s all too easy to compare yourself to the co-worker beside you, but believe it or not, they are having the same thoughts and insecurities. Ask yourself if you gave a project your absolute best. If you did, know not everyone is perfect and there is always room to grow. Life wouldn’t be life without a few obstacles along the way.
Ignore the feeling of having imposter syndrome, the inability to recognize yourself for your accomplishments. Remember, you got the job for a reason. Every one of us has the feeling to become the perfect perfectionist — setting these high goals in our head and not being able to come to terms with the failure. You then start to feel like you don’t deserve the position at work, minimize your accomplishments or assume everyone around you thinks less of you.
Realizing these feelings are all in your head and aren’t true will help significantly in moving forward. If you are constantly being negative to yourself and notice this is an overpowering feeling, analyze your life outside work. Ask yourself if you feel this same way about other aspects of your life. If you do, take a step back and address the issue of self-love. Every day, make time to write down what is most important in your life, what you do well and what words you think best describe yourself. If you see those words are more negative than not, cross them out. In these moments, forming a habit of self-love and positivity is vital.
When you address a lack of self-confidence from the root, it’s easier for the additional elements to fall into place, including work.
Now that you’ve overcome a lack of confidence at work, it’s time to act like it. You didn’t come this far to not show others what you’re capable of.
Practice building your self-confidence outside the workplace. Many people are firm believers in leaving work at work, and although that may be a best practice, building yourself up in non-work situations can help your time at the office go more smoothly. Self-esteem at work can affect someone in the same way it may for their personal life. Take advice from former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Life’s fluctuations can wear you down, but only if you let them. If you are feeling less confident in your daily life, you’ll come into work with the same mindset, and vice versa. Be confident in yourself in every aspect of life, and you’ll not only feel a major difference — others will see it as well.
Weaknesses aren’t weak. Especially in the workplace, these are the opportunities to grow in and from. When you take these elements with a mindset of “challenge accepted,” it allows room for the success of achievement. You’ll better be able to notice and celebrate any aspect of your life you want to prove to yourself or others.
One valuable way to build your confidence and learn something new while you’re at it is by reading industry materials. Not only will you become more confident as you’re learning new things, but you can teach others a new skill. As much as you might have built it up to seem this way in your mind, the workplace isn’t a competition. At the end of the day, you’re all working for the same company.
By now, you should realize even the most successful CEO can struggle with self-confidence at work. However, it doesn’t hurt to act the way you think they did to get that position. Here are a few tips to reach the level of CEO confidence:
We all start somewhere, so why not start today? If that isn’t enough to make you feel empowered, check out this great article by Well and Good!Chapter 2