By: Kate Daigle
“I was always looking outside myself for confidence and strength, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” -Anna Freud
Confidence – What is it and how do we get it?
Con∙fi∙dence (n): “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.” How many times have you stood in a crowded room and instantly noticed every insecurity you had bubbling to the surface? The notion that maybe the people in that room could be “smarter” “wealthier” or “better looking” can be enough to direct behavior. The fear or insecurity that you don’t measure up can be enough to cause you to instantly become demure, hesitant and less likely to speak up. The red, buzzing alarm is sounded in your mind and your instant, biological reaction is to either run far, far away or freeze with fear. Sound familiar to anyone? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common experience for so many, myself included!
The battle with illuminating our confidence can usually be traced back to comparison traps like the one above. Our own inner abilities and strengths start to become dull because it “seems” that someone else is “much better off” when, in reality, our lives are complex and not everything is always as it seems. Consider this: What would it be like for you to meet your own insecurities and fears with the same kind of empathy and compassion that you might give to a friend expressing the same insecurities and fears? This consideration can be so challenging but can be just what you need to get the confidence boost you’re looking for. When we truly start to believe in ourselves, in a healthy way, we can become unstoppable, compassionate, empathetic, kind and relatable without doubting whether or not we “measure up”.
Confidence vs. Ego – Where’s the balance?
So, how do we walk the fine line of healthy confidence and unhealthy ego? We all have an ego…Freud says so! The question is when does the ego become unhealthily dominant? There’s a difference between believing in your abilities and qualities and having a depleted sense of humility. The ego says “I’m the best public speaker.” Or, “I have to be the best public speaker.” while confidence says “I may not be the best speaker but I believe I can learn how to develop this skill.” Or, maybe confidence says “I don’t need to be the best speaker to rest assured that I have other great qualities and skills.”
How do we develop confidence?
Here are 5 simple practices to boost your inner confidence:
1. Identify your strengths – Sound too challenging? No problem. Consider times when you’ve overcome an obstacle. What qualities or attributes allowed you to persevere? Resilience, patience, determination, support?
2. Greet your insecurities with kindness and compassion – This can be tricky and uncomfortable, just as I mentioned before. It’s not something everyone is accustomed to. When you notice thoughts of inferiority presenting themselves, kill ‘em with kindness 😊
3. Develop a strong sense of patience – Confidence can take time to strengthen, especially if you’re someone who finds themselves often feeling defeated by comparisons, insecurities and flaws. Building confidence takes time. Pause. Take a breath. Be patient.
4. Notice comparison traps – Hopefully, you wouldn’t go into the woods with known bear traps and neglect to pay attention to your surroundings. You’d be extra cautious, noting where traps are and taking alternative paths. Use this same roadmap for finding your inner confidence.
5. The last, and probably my favorite, practice…challenge yourself! – Pick one skill or attribute you want to develop. Set an achievable and realistic goal and watch yourself rise to the challenge. You’re stronger and more resilient than you give yourself credit for.