The Self-Confidence Gospel


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by Jayaram V

Honor thyself and thou shall have the trust of yourself and the treasures hidden in thine own mind. Jayaram V

Many people do not finish what they begin. Along the way they lose heart, become distracted and give up a cherished dream that might have changed their lives. Often we come up with wonderful ideas or set a difficult goal for ourselves, but do not find the courage to give them shape. People entertain wishes, hopes and dreams, but underperform in reaching them, because they lack courage and conviction, believing that they do not have the resources or the ability. Success is denied to them because in some mysterious ways they hold back and deny themselves opportunities to achieve success and make a mark for themselves. In short, they lack confidence in themselves, in what they think, believe and aim to achieve.

What is self-confidence?

Confidence means having the belief or the feeling of assurance that you are dependable, and you will succeed and you can succeed in what you aim to achieve. Confidence comes from having a deep trust in yourself, your abilities and commitment to achieve goals and perform tasks, which one may normally without it find difficult to perform. Thus, your confidence stems mainly from your belief or faith in yourself and your abilities. As Norman Vincent Peale said, "What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.” The most difficult part is having that trust and belief continuously without self-doubt, fear and anxiety.

Having self-confidence is important to use the numerous opportunities you either create or get in your life to achieve success, peace and happiness. Unfortunately, many people lack self-confidence either totally or in specific areas, which prevents them from being effective and successful in their lives and careers.

Recognizing the problem of low self-confidence

You may not be able to explain what confidence is, but you know from experience whether you had moments of confidence in your life and whether you suffer from lack of it. It is not difficult to perceive self-confidence either in yourself and in others. Self-confidence speaks for itself in your thinking and actions. A self-confident person has the following distinguishing marks.

1. Believes in what he or she does

2. Is willing to take risks

3. Has positive self-image

4. Acknowledges his failures and mistakes and learns from them

5. Does not indulge in blame game and finding excuses and scapegoats

6. Takes responsibility for his actions and their consequences,

7. Remains committed to his goals and dreams

8. Listens to advise given by others but keeps his own counsel

9. Is open to suggestions and ideas even if he does not agree with them.

10. Accepts complements and criticism graciously,

11. Has the heart to appreciate the virtues and achievements of others.

A self-confident person does not indulge in the following negativity.

1. Make decisions or perform actions to seek other people's approval.

2. Avoid taking risks or stepping out of his comfort zone

3. Avoid responsibility for his life and actions

4. Undermine his own abilities or undersell himself

5. Put other people down to feel good

It is myth that anyone is always confident or remain confident forever. Under certain conditions even the most confident people may lose their nerve. When provoked beyond tolerance, a person who is otherwise timid and nervous may show extraordinary courage. Self-confidence stems from many natural factors, such as your appearance, education, knowledge, social and family background, past experiences, geographic and cultural factors, physical and mental health, and social skills.

A person who is lacking in self-confidence suffers from nagging self-doubts about himself, which shows up as fear of failure and rejection, and anxiety about the outcome of his actions. He usually remains silent in a social conversation, readily agrees with the opinions of others, hesitates to speak his mind, does things to gain the attention and approval of others and waits for others to take the lead and make the decisions. He rarely takes risks or steps out of his comfort zone or ventures out to experience new and unfamiliar situations. Since he is afraid to stand for himself, he is not effective at negotiations. He keeps low expectations about himself and usually underperforms and undersells himself.

How to build self-confidence?

You cannot build self-confidence by focusing on your confidence part alone. Your self-confidence is part of a mindset or your whole attitude. Therefore to build self-confidence, you must address some basic issues which prevent you from being your normal and confident self and use your full potentials to your best advantage. You have to uncover the blockages that prevent you from being your natural self. It means you have to look deeper within to find the root causes, rather than dealing with the problem superficially. To build self-confidence, you have to understand the factors which contribute to it and build them. It means you have to spend time knowing yourself and increase your self-awareness.

Here are a few areas where you have to improve to build your self-confidence and bring out the best in you whenever it is needed.

1. Self-esteem: Your confidence directly stems from your self-esteem. The higher the self-esteem the greater is the confidence. Self-esteem means your self-image, and your feelings self-worth. Your self-esteem depends practically upon the same factors as your self-confidence. Therefore, if you want to build self-confidence, you must first address your self-esteem issues. With positive self-esteem, you will naturally feel confident.

2. Self-talk: How you talk to yourself is important for your confidence. We all have an inner critic, who keeps constantly evaluating and judging our actions and keeps telling us how we are doing in our lives and acting in specific situation. We are conditioned to listen to this inner critic who can be toxic and destructive at times. To build self-confidence, it is necessary to counter the inner critic with reason, facts, positive thinking and affirmations.

3. Knowledge and competence: Knowledge, competence and confidence go together. If you have more knowledge and competence about something, the more confident you will become in that area. It is especially relevant to your career or profession. Knowledge empowers you to make decisions, express your opinions or solve problems on your own. Therefore try to improve your knowledge and skills in whatever you do.

4. Strengths: You are endowed with some natural abilities, strengths and weaknesses. You must analyze your personality to identify your talents and strengths and explore opportunities to use them to reach your goals and achieve success. The more you use your strengths the greater is your chances of achieving success and experience confidence.

5. Weaknesses: No one is perfect. We all have our own imperfections and weaknesses. We may improve some of them with effort and training while some may remain forever. It is not even worth trying to remove all weaknesses, considering the costs and time involved. The trick is to learn, what you can improve, what you cannot and how you can circumvent those that cannot be improved. For example, in areas where you lack knowledge or expertise you can always hire professionals or rely upon others who can fill the gap.

6. Thinking and attitude: Positive thinking is very vital to feeling good and having confidence. We have already examined how negative self-talk can weaken your confidence. Therefore, you must learn to dispute your irrational fears and negative thinking with reason, visualization and positive affirmations. You must also focus upon your achievements and successes to overcome your doubts and fears.

8. Experience: Your self-confidence is directly related to the successes you achieve in your life. The more successful you are in specific tasks the greater is your confidence. One way to build self-confidence is setting small goals in the beginning and achieving them.

9. Expectations: Examine your own expectations. People with low self-confidence generally have low expectations. Are your expectations realistic. Are they in harmony with your hopes and aspirations or your natural strengths and abilities? Are your expectations influenced by your own wants and needs or the demands, others may have from you? By attuning your expectations to your abilities and keeping them realistic, you can experience increased confidence about your chances of feeling good and achieving success.

10 Emotions: Negative emotions such as fear and anxiety have a direct bearing upon your self-confidence. By resolving them you can increase your self-confidence.

11. Grooming and appearance: Your appearance is part of your self-image. It is therefore important to work on your physical appearance and make yourself feel good and confident. You can do so by keeping yourself physically fit, eating healthy food, speaking slowly, wearing suitable dresses, smiling frequently and being happy in the presence of others.

12. Helping and Appreciating: Appreciate others and help them when they need your help. When you appreciate others, they will appreciate you in return. It will not only strengthen your relationship with them, but also reinforce your believe in yourself. The same happens when you help others. Their appreciation and gratitude reinforce your positive self-image and increase your self-confidence.

Suggestions for Further Reading

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