Confidence – that quality so many of us admire. During my younger years I was plagued by insecurity, often colouring how I interacted with those around me. As I grew older I naturally developed more confidence as I actively worked on my self-esteem but I still sometimes have my moments when I become a little insecure.
I remember talking to my boyfriend for the first time on the phone. I was feeling anything but confident in the lead up to the call. To help the conversation along I Googled ‘fun dating questions’ so that I wouldn’t run out of things to say. It seems funny to me now, but at the time it did wonders to improve my confidence, even although my nerves didn’t go completely. There have also been times when I have experienced inner confidence, when my insecurities faded and I felt truly comfortable with myself and my surroundings.
After having experienced this I realised here are two types of confidence, internal and external. In this series I shall briefly discuss how fostering external confidence (with internal confidence somewhat absent) can help us to develop internal confidence in the long-term. That said, we can also work on developing internal confidence, whereby external confidence naturally manifests itself. With this in mind I shall explore how to develop internal confidence in-depth, as this is by far the most powerful form of confidence because it has many deep rooted psychological benefits. Having lacked confidence in the past I definitely believe it is something we can all develop with patience and practise.
The difference between self-esteem and confidence
It’s important to distinguish between self-esteem and self-confidence. Self-esteem is how you regard yourself whereas self confidence is how much faith you have in your abilities. If you’d like to read more on self-esteem please read my Tiny Buddha article titled ‘Learning to love yourself; Three steps to instantly boost your self-esteem’. Likewise, if you find that your self-esteem is healthy but you struggle to be as compassionate to yourself as you would be towards your friends, please read my self compassion article titled ‘How to silence your inner critic and become your own best friend’.
Can introverts be confident?
Cambridge dictionaries online cites confidence as being “the quality of being certain of your abilities”. Why then does society often portray introverted people as automatically lacking confidence? Though introverts are more quiet by nature this isn’t necessarily a sign of a lack of confidence. Indeed dictionary.com sites introversion as:
“the act of directing one’s interest inward or to things within the self.The state of being concerned
primarily with one’s own thoughts and feelings rather than with the external environment.”
Does it then not follow that introverts can be just as confident as extroverts? Absolutely! Equally however introverts can lack confidence, just as some extroverts do. Remember confidence is merely being certain of your abilities and what you have to offer.
The benefits of being confident
There have been several scientific studies which have found that beyond the obvious psychological advantages of being confident such as social ease and high self belief, being confident carries other perks with it too. Not only does one’s ability to learn improve but performance improves as well. Call it a self-fulfilling prophesy, the law of attraction or an uncanny coincidence but it would seem that the more confident we are, the more we tend to excel.
Of course it’s worth mentioning that to appear confident in all situations all of the time isn’t common and may even indicate arrogance, a completely different beast.
Dispelling the stereotypes
It’s important to realize what confidence is not. The risk is that if you try to foster external confidence before feeling it internally you might come across as arrogant or even narcissistic if your perception of confidence is coloured by stereotypes. Just to be clear, confidence is not:
- Interrupting and talking over people
- Speaking before thinking about how your words may impact others
- Assuming you are always right and imposing your opinions upon others
- Being the centre of attention all the time
- Being condescending or superior towards others
- Being narcissistic – using fake charms to get others to boost a false and inflated self-esteem, sense of pride or enlarged ego
What genuine confidence looks like
- Knowing and being comfortable with your weaknesses
- Knowing and being comfortable with your strengths
- Valuing yourself enough to know your contribution is worthwhile
- Being receptive to others contributions and not feeling threatened if they are more skilled or knowledgeable than you
- Recognizing you can learn from others and demonstrating this by being genuinely interested in and listening to what others have to say
- Confident people are approachable
- Confident people are comfortable with their achievements but they don’t brag about them or feel superior because of them
Have you ever struggled with insecurity? Did you view confidence as something strictly reserved for extroverts? Did it surprise you to discover what genuine confidence looks like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.
Stay tuned – next week we will look at the difference between true confidence and arrogance!