How important is confidence and how can I help to build mine?

-Dr Kimberley Carder, Psychologist and W5 Ambassador

I’m going to make a bold statement and say, confidence is everything. It is important to know first and foremost what confidence is. Psychotherapist Nathan Blumenthal, founder of the self-esteem movement in psychology stated  “the reputation you have with yourself – your self-esteem – is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life”. A reputation is developed around your belief system, so what is your belief system about who you are?

After recently listening to Dr. Maya Angelou, she postulated that at the foundation of confidence is courage and the  enemies are discourage and fear. It is courage that allows us to make decisions for ourselves and to be seen. There is a beautifully symbiotic relationship between courage and confidence. So what are some evidence based approaches in building these attributes?

  1. Affirmations
    1. I know, sounds fluffy however, by writing down and speaking a  positive statement of who you are and what you stand for like – ‘I am capable of amazing things’ helps manifest a positive self image. Research shows when your image of self is threatened (life happens right?), self-affirmations can restore self-competence by allowing individuals to reflect on sources of self-worth that you previously defined (Cascio Christopher N. el at, 2016)
  2. Creating narrative
    1. When something happens that didn’t go as planned and is affecting the way you see yourself, try writing a different narrative for what that event means in the greater scheme of things.
  3. Develop the courage muscle
    1. Like strength based training, you wouldn’t just walk into a gym and go lift the 200kg weight for funsies just to be able to call yourself strong. Similarly, confidence is developed bit by bit over time. Consciously doing something that is slightly out of your comfort zone will strengthen that muscle. Whether it be speaking up for yourself in uncomfortable situations or going to a class alone, decide what it is that you want and how you’re going to go about reaching that.

 

References:

Cascio, Christopher N. et al. “Self-Affirmation Activates Brain Systems Associated with Self-Related Processing and Reward and Is Reinforced by Future Orientation.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 11.4 (2016): 621–629. PMC. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.