Do you find it hard to mingle and talk to people at parties? Do people ask you why you are so quiet? Then you probably want to know how to be more socially confident. It all starts with improving your overall self-confidence.
What Is Self-Confidence
What actually is confidence, or to be more exact, self-confidence?
The term confidence comes from the Latin word confidentia, which in turn comes from confidere. It simply means “have full trust”. So, confidence generally refers to the state of feeling that one can fully rely on someone or something. Thus,
“self-confidence” simply means the feeling that one can fully rely on him/herself. As a feeling, confidence is an abstract concept that can be difficult to define, and in most cases, there’s no in-between: either you are confident or you are not, that’s it.
A lack of self-confidence—a condition we call “self-doubt”— can really disrupt our social performance and can prohibit us from getting what we desire. On the other hand, a self-confident person is always ready to face new challenges, take responsibilities, and especially, seize opportunities, which can significantly help the said person in achieving their desires.
It’s important to understand that just how self-confidence helps in achieving success, successful social experiences can also boost confidence, creating a healthy cycle. Any successful experience will boost our confidence in performing the same experience, and thus, our overall self-confidence.
It is, however, quite possible to be very confident in a specific area you are good at (i.e. singing, cooking), but very anxious and shy in others (public speaking, facing an exam, etc.). So, as you can see,
Self-Confidence VS Courage
It’s quite easy to mix confidence with courage. However, courage actually exists when there’s a lack—or absence— of confidence. We can say that confidence is something we use when we face a known situation or experience. On the other, courage is something we use or access when we face unknown situations.
For example, if we haven’t experienced bungee jumping before, we can’t be confident in attempting the bungee jump, and in this case, we use 100% courage. On the other hand, if we are attempting something we are already familiar with (or already good at), we can use 100% confidence.
Self-Confidence VS Self-Esteem
Also, a very common misconception is to think that self-confidence is similar to self-esteem. Although both terms are often used interchangeably to refer to how you feel about yourself and there are indeed similarities between the two, they are actually two different things.
The word “esteem” originated from aestimare, and you might notice the similarity with the word “estimate”. Aestimare can mean “to appraise, weigh, estimate, and rate”, and so self-esteem is, in a nutshell, how we value, rate, or estimate yourself.
It’s actually possible for self-esteem and self-confidence to not go together: you can be a very confident person but have a (very) low self-esteem. For instance, there are many people who are really successful and are really confident in social interactions (for example, musicians and performers), but at the same time are highly addicted to drugs (a common symptom of low self-esteem) and even commit suicide.
On the other hand, there are also people that are shy in social situations (not having a lot of self-confidence) but value themselves higher. People with a healthy amount of self-esteem don’t need external stimuli or boosts like income, fame, sex conquests, or even alcohol and drugs, but are generally happy with themselves
To summarize, however, self-esteem is a more “overarching” way of how you view yourself, while selfconfidence can vary from situation to situation depending on your abilities (or how you perceive your abilities) on the specific situation/experience.
A healthy amount of self-esteem, however, can indeed make us more confident, while on the other hand when you are confident in more areas of your life, you can improve overall self-esteem.
Building Your Self-Confidence
It’s very important to note that both underconfidence and overconfidence can be harmful and on the other hand, you’d need to have a healthy amount of self-confidence that is based on reality.
With that being said, building self-confidence takes time and will require efforts, but as long as you are willing to invest in determination and focus, it is definitely doable. However, as mentioned above being selfconfident will also allow you to get successful experiences, which in turn can allow you to further build confidence from real successes.
Here are the three required steps in building self-confidence:
The first, and arguably the most important step here is to prepare your mind in achieving change.This will involve self-contemplation and self-evaluation, and also the willingness to commit yourself to start and stay with the transformations.
Evaluate Your Past Achievements
Since, as established, self-confidence is closely related and should be based on your abilities and achievements, then evaluating what you’ve already achieved should be a crucial aspect in this preparation step. There are various ways you can do this, but the most common way is to simply list the top 10 or 20 best things you have achieved. They don’t have to be that big or world-changing, but simple achievements like
when you came first in an exam, helped a friend with something, or delivered on a significant project can count. Make this list in a way you can look at often in an enjoyable way (i.e. put it in a notebook or as a note in your smartphone/laptop), the idea of this list is to remind yourself that there are some successes you can enjoy.
Evaluate Your Strengths
We can always focus on threats in our lives and our weaknesses, but focusing on our strengths will help more in building our self-confidence and self-esteem. Look back at your achievements list, and evaluate yourself. If necessary, ask your family members or trustworthy friends of what they consider to be your strengths (and weaknesses).
Manage Your Mind
Managing your mind and especially your expectations should be a key aspect of confidence-building. The main idea is to recognize negative self-thoughts and defeat them. They can be the ultimate obstacles in building your confidence. Again, focus on your strengths, and go back to your achievement list to help in
creating strong mental images.
This step is where we actually start building our confidence and slowly but surely move towards our objective.
Reflect on Your Priorities and Define Your Objectives
Another important thing here is to reflect on what’s actually important to you, and what’s the actual objectives in improving your self-confidence. Defining objectives and achieving important milestones will be the key parts in building your selfconfidence. Define and set realistic goals that can be measured, so you can objectively assess your performance and evaluate your new achievements.
Start Small and Build Your Abilities
Go back to the objectives you’ve set above, and figure out the skills, knowledge, or abilities required to achieve this objective. Objectively assess how you can acquire these abilities confidently. For example, ifyour objective is to build your confidence in public speaking, then investing in a public speaking course is probably the right step in achieving this objective (according to your budget).
Achieving Milestones and Celebrate
Get in the habit of setting objectives, attempting to achieve them, and re-evaluate your successes. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, or if the objective is too big, you can celebrate achieving the smaller milestones.
Actually, you should divide goals into smaller, more achievable milestones, and don’t make the goals too challenging. Remember that the main goal is to build confidence: get into the habit of getting achievements, and celebrate them.
Keep Managing Your Mind
Keep a positive mindset, celebrate your achievements, and enjoy yourself. This is how you build your selfesteem and self-confidence, slowly but surely. Also, you’ll face failures along the way, and managing how you handle these failures is just as important. Treat these failures as learning experiences, embrace them, and use these experiences to strengthen your abilities.
Tips in Building Self-Confidence
Here are some actionable tips you can use in building a healthy self-confidence:
1.Maintain Confident Posture
Sit and stand stall, don’t slouch, and maintain positive postures. Many studies have suggested the positive, real effects of confident postures on our minds and hormones.
2.Manage and Reframe Your Mind and Energy
A bit of stress and even anxiety can be useful in certain situations (i.e. live performance, public speech, etc. ) Reframe these feelings as excitement.
Relax your body, close your eyes, and visualize any activity that can give you more confidence.
4.Take Care of Yourself: Physically and Mentally
Speak to yourself kindly. Encourage yourself, and don’t be too demanding. Remember that the relationship with yourself is the most important. Also, exercise regularly. Regular exercise can release endorphins, producing a comfortable feeling and can help in building self-esteem and confidence.
5.You Can Ask For Help (And Also, Help Others)
Remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. Ask for help from trustworthy friends and family, and don’t be afraid of rejection. On the other hand, help others when you can. Giving and helping others can allow us to know that we are actually valued by others, improving our confidence.
Building a healthy self-confidence is a process and not something we can achieve instantly. On the other hand, the process might be unique and different for everyone. Remember that high self-esteem, by itself, doesn’t really achieve anything. Sustainable self-confidence should come from positive experiences and real achievements.
No matter how confident you are, there will be moments when you will need to draw from your reserve of courage and self-esteem and face the challenge. So, be objective, evaluate yourself fairly, and continue to improve.