We know it when we feel it. When it’s in our grip, we soar. When it leaves us in the lurch, we land hard.
Self-confidence, by definition, is:
- Being sure of your own abilities
- Trusting those abilities
- Having faith in them
- Feeling assured you really have them
Self-confidence is in our heads. It’s the way we assess ourselves and decide if we’ve met expectations–our own and others.
Every day, readers find their way to my posts on self-confidence using search phrases like:
- I’ve lost my self-confidence and I don’t know why (or I do).
- I need help getting my self-confidence back.
- No matter what I do, I can’t find self-confidence.
I get it: I’ve uttered those words myself.
Everyone struggles to build and maintain self-confidence.
The way we see ourselves changes. The way we process feedback changes the way we see ourselves. New experiences test our abilities either adding to or detracting from our self-confidence.
It’s a moving target which makes maintaining self-confidence a work in progress.
Most of us don’t like that. We want our self-confidence to be a constant, something we can draw on anytime like a fat bank account. But that would take the growth factor out of living and working.
We can’t grow and get better if we’re all comfy about our self-confidence. We need to be kept off balance a bit, so we will push ourselves.
No matter how accomplished someone is–how famous, how rich, and how long they’ve been on top–loss of self-confidence will occur time and again.
So when our self-confidence sinks, we need to stop all the woe-is-me talk and get cracking.
The only real way to build or restore your self-confidence is to act, to keep doing whatever will re-energize your belief in yourself.
You may have to turn to family, friends, and/or advisers to get you thinking more positively, but in the end, it’s about you getting busy.
Famed country singer and actress, Dolly Parton, after a meteoric early career, had to face an unsuccessful movie, tensions with big players in the industry, and the loss of her personal support system (long time friends who were moving on with their own lives.) She felt alone and became unglued.
She wrote in her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business:
I collapsed. It seemed that all my support systems had disappeared. The very foundation of all my beliefs had been shaken. The dreamy little kid from the mountains had become a fat, disillusioned, hopeless woman.
She stopped singing, playing guitar, and writing. She felt that people had given up on her because they thought she’d lost her drive. After some lengthy, painful soul-searching, she snapped out of it, writing:
It’s okay to think that about Dolly Parton, but better not stand in the road in front of her. I was about to come roaring back.
Self-confidence is a commitment to yourself, no matter if the cards seem stacked against you or how you were raised.
Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Dern, a veteran of over 80 films, revealed on ABC’s Live with Kelly & Michael, that as a child he was considered, by his parents, so uninteresting that he had to raise his hand at the dinner table in order to speak.
Dern clearly found a way to build his self-confidence anyway.
What to do?
When your self-confidence flags, you might follow these steps to reinvigorate it:
- Figure out what caused its decline (Answer: who, what, when, where, how)
- List prior achievements that initially built your self-confidence; internalize them.
- Commit to being optimistic.
- Recommit to patterns of behavior and actions that brought prior success
- Learn and adopt new approaches that make sense.
- Keep working, participating, and putting yourself out there.
- Build momentum, assess your progress, make mid-course corrections, and keep going.
Self-confidence comes from building your capabilities and doing things successfully
As people, we are all a work in progress, and our self-confidence is our engine. Get ready to rev it up!