The Internet is full of articles about self-confidence. But most of them are just nice-sounding phrases.
...For example, "be yourself", "think positive", "visualize how you achieve your goals", "love yourself", "tell yourself - I can", "carry 10 cents in your pocket" and other types of shamanism...
It is time to use the knowledge of psychology to finally find out, what is self confidence and how to get it?
What does "self-confidence" mean?
According to dictionaries:
"Self-confidence <…> is related to beliefs about a person's overall ability to solve situations and problems in the world."
People speak: a self-confident person has an "I can handle it" belief. And an insecure person says - "Oh my God, I don't know what I will do if I have to present this presentation!".
So, based on logic, it becomes clear that self-confidence is a lack of fear, because with a strong belief that "whatever happens, I can handle it", a person does not feel fear.
I will explain with a picture.
Two types of self-confidence.
There are no fearless heroes in the world - supermen and batmen. We all feel differently in different situations. Thus, researchers distinguish 2 types: general self-confidence (BP) and specific self-confidence (SP).
1) General self-confidence:
It is a person's self-doubt - "I can overcome all difficulties". 1 Most psychologists believe that it comes from how a person evaluates abilities in past situations.
For example, if you were able to complete simple tasks day after day, 2 you have no doubt that you will manage easily in the future as well.
2) Specific self-confidence:
It is a contributor to overall confidence. The ability to cope with a specific task in a specific context. 3
For example: I used to play basketball and one of my teammates had low overall self-confidence. However, when he entered the basketball court, he became a superman, which would make Lebron James shy!
It is the confidence to perform difficult tasks. 4
How do these types of self-confidence interact?
There is reason to believe that specific self-confidence is more emotional state, which can be acquired, strengthened, changed. And general self-confidence is more personality trait. Therefore, specific trust is like a secondary, additional block.
This means that BP is a stable part of your personality that does not evaporate anywhere after a day, while SP is not stable because it is based on different experiences.
And this is one of the most amazing aspects of our psychology, because SP can increase in a very short time, gaining experience by repeatedly experiencing specific spheres of life.
...And at the same time - SP is not that important.
How to strengthen self-confidence?
In summary, we have two ways to do this: A) Self-analysis methods and b) Methods of practical skills.
I will start with self-analysis, because in this - you will not need to do anything very new. Just turn on your observing brain 5 and check yourself.
Self-analysis I: Limiting beliefs
We all have them, we just don't always recognize them. Such beliefs limit the possibilities of action, take away courage and make you constantly doubt. 6
...The worst thing is that our brains programmed to seek confirmation that our beliefs are correct. And this is completely natural.
There are many scientific terms for this phenomenon: "reticular activating system" (RAS), confirmation bias (confirmation trend) and the like. They all mean that we pay attention to evidence that supports our beliefs and ignore facts that contradict them. 7
All this leads to a behavioral phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example: “I believe that others don't like me, so I will stay away from the party. I know no one will like me anyway."
This kind of behavior leads to people actually starting to dislike you. Therefore, the belief, even though it was not true in the beginning, is fulfilled. Your actions made it true.
Sometimes a self-fulfilling prophecy can be useful.
However, just pretending to be a successful person does not guarantee that you will become one. "Fake it till you make it" works rarely enough.
Self-analysis II: Self-worth
And self-esteem has little to do with the ability to perform tasks, as it is more about the ability to evaluate oneself positively.
For example: You can be a complete idiot at school - not good, not receptive, etc... But still have high self-esteem during exams because you believe yourself to be a good person. Although it has no logical connection with the tasks, you still have confidence in yourself.
What thoughts about yourself do you repeat to yourself?
And then... Practical skills methods.
To boost overall self-confidence, try to become an expert in several areas. It can be sports, art, cooking, massages, poetry recitation, programming, video editing, reading books. Or anything else. If you are able to become proficient in several areas of life, your ability to cope with tasks and problems increases.
Most of us are concerned with one type of SP, social trust. This includes all other things in which people interact. Although all social situations are similar, they require a unique level of self-confidence. Because there is no single and universal social confidence, there are MANY different social confidences.
For example, I never had a problem speaking in front of an audience, but sometimes I became shy at parties. The same people, the same you, but different circumstances and different self-confidence.
Example: Social situations
I will remind you that your level of self-confidence in each situation strongly depends on your previous experience in a similar situation.
The most effective way to gain social confidence is to:
- Understand how to behave in situations (knowledge).
- Practice skills through several trials (practice).
- Experience as much "success" (confidence) as possible.
It is one of the most direct, but most frightening paths. That is why courage is one of the most important things in achieving self-confidence.
Practical exercises. Courage. What is it?
Courage has one very precise definition:
It is your will to pursue a worthwhile goal despite fear, uncertainty, and risk. You're afraid, you don't know, you know the risk, but you do it anyway.
And when you start learning social skills, you experience a lot of fear and uncertainty, and you also see risks. 8 Courage helps you cope.
Let's say you want to go to another country in the summer, live and work. However, you don't even know which bus to take to the airport, let alone looking for a job in a foreign country, in a city you've never been to and know nothing about.
So, imagine surfing the internet and finding a cheap flight to your desired country in a couple of weeks...
First step: Get started now!
The goal in our first step is to figure out how things work. You have never been in such a situation, so you naturally feel a great sense of uncertainty. And the unknown is fear's best friend, because when you don't know what to expect, you doubt whether you can handle the situation. And the result is low self-confidence and fear.
The uncertainty can be elementary: Is there a bus that takes you from the airport to the city? Will there be enough space on the bus? Will you put the suitcase in the trunk or in the cabin? Won't it disappear? Which hotel to choose? How much will it cost me? 9
All these circumstances create fear and doubt. The good news is that the fear will decrease with each (travel) process.
Therefore, just being in a new situation increases specific self-confidence. You learn to deal with specific problems and learn what to expect - reducing the painful dose of the unknown.
There is a saying: "You don't know if you don't try." I can't count how many times this has worked for me.
SECOND STEP: Practice
This time it will be enough to know the most important thing: If you want to communicate better with people... You simply have to communicate with them more.
There is no magic here. And it does not depend on any psychological type. Extroverts don't communicate more easily because they are extroverts - they communicate more easily because they find strength in communication... And that's why they communicated more and more!
Therefore, you must learn to approach a stranger and say: "Hi, my name is...". Such an action did not cause great fear. Many people don't have enough practice, so they feel fear without confidence.
But it takes courage to take the first step. Instead of standing in the corner with a cocktail in hand or playing on your smartphone.
Daniel tells more about communication in the following articles:
THREE STEP: Concentrate on precise obstacles
If you've practiced faithfully over and over, but still don't feel comfortable in the same situations, the problem is deeper. These are issues of self-worth and limiting beliefs that do not require courage to deal with.
A change of attitude is needed. Due to the lack of self-esteem, you cannot use the social skills you have already acquired. And if you have a deep-seated belief that others don't like you, more practice won't help.
Because of your RAS, or confirmation bias, it's hard to see evidence to change your beliefs. So even when your social skills are perfect, these misconceptions can still make you feel awkward around others. In such cases, it is best to consult someone who understands these things.
I recommend relationship coaches or psychotherapists. 10
So let's recap what we've learned:
- Self-confidence consists of two parts: BP and SP. The first - general personality traits, and the second - emotional state in the specific context of activity.
- BP. and SP are closely related, so the more skills you acquire, the more your confidence will increase.
- Different environments require different confidence.
- To make it easier to raise your social confidence level, you need to practice.
- The more success you experience in a given situation, the higher the level of self-confidence you will develop.
I hope I helped!
I have been interested in psychology since childhood - it is my hobby. However, I am neither a scientist nor a psychologist. Everything I have described in this article is based on the books I have read, personal experience and experiments. Once upon a time I didn't trust myself either. So if you are struggling, there is hope.
Nothing will change if you don't decide to change yourself.
So, make a plan of action, figure out which specific self-confidence you want to gain, where you will use it... And get started. Because self-confidence does not appear out of thin air and does not lie under Christmas trees.
- Hermi Ielius
Go to the store, take a shower, bake pancakes...↩
This self-confidence is called specific for a reason. Sometimes you can do very difficult work in the office, communicate, lead a large group of colleagues, but when a stranger calls you out, you get lost, you become shy.↩
These beliefs create individual frames - the frame. It's like colored glasses that give context and color to the environment. One such belief can be "others don't like me".↩
This is why there are so many followers of The Secret book, despite the fact that it is one of the worst lying books of recent decades.↩
While most other people don't really care if you succeed or not.↩
You're probably also wondering how not to look stupid: "They'll think I'm crazy... I'm coming to town without knowing anything... They'll laugh at me because I have no clue what I'm doing." I wonder if I won't appear arrogant by asking "can I get a job?".↩