Many questions I receive relate, in one way or other, to “how can I be more confident?”

Many of the stories behind these questions I find touching, and I take care to answer as best I can, going on what little information I have from a brief email. I always ask for more background, but a free Q&A (which is the service I offer), is not intended to be therapy or coaching, so my answers tend to be general, though responding to any contextual details the questioner has provided. The gist of the answer is always around where to start.

 If you look out for proof that you are lacking in confidence, then you’ll find it. Even the most confident person can list their uncertainties, doubts and failures if they choose to.

But that’s not what so-called ‘confident people’ focus on, so neither should you if you want to be more confident. The way to confidence to find experiences that will be life-affirming and confidence building.

Confidence is built and maintained through our own recognition and acknowledgement of our successes. While some people seem to have the edge from birth and are naturally more confident than others, positive self-concept (as psychologists call it), is not a fixed attribute and it can be developed at any time.

Neither is is everlasting; attributes like confidence and self-belief need maintenance and renewal if they are to remain intact and serve us well (this goes for the confident people too).

Don’t focus on failures

Life has a way of eroding confidence by reminding us of our failures, imperfections and shortcomings. The simplest and most natural antidote is to count your successes, recognise your strengths, and acknowledge your resources such as experience, achievements and support (by family and friends for example).

 

Think about how self-confidence works for a moment; when you have it you are much better able to resist being swept up with thoughts that tell you you are rubbish (or are blame-worthy, should feel guilty, undeserving, or whatever).

But we all have chinks in this self-protective belief, and so occasionally doubts can creep in. When that happens it distorts your thinking and confidence is threatened.

Consciously focusing on your competencies and other affirming attributes can help counter this effect and so, boost your confidence, self-esteem and resilience.