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Self Confidence In the Face of Challenges

self confidence and challenges

We live in challenging times, how’s your self confidence holding up? Let’s face it, maintaining your personal confidence when life is relatively normal can be challenging enough. But when we are confronted by unexpected challenges, it can be very difficult to avoid giving in to self-doubt and uncertainty.

When we feel confident, it makes us more resourceful. Challenges seem less threatening and have much less impact on our sense of security. Take away our self confidence and we become unsteady in our ability to make decisions and take action. Do you have enough confidence in your own abilities to meet challenges head on without giving way to doubt and fear?

How much confidence is realistic?

In all areas of life, balance is always the key, the same is true with confident we feel. With that in mind, let me ask you a question. Do you think that it’s possible to have a realistic, balanced view of one’s own abilities and still have enough self confidence to see you through unexpected challenges? Is it okay to think about building exceptional self confidence in your abilities?

Many people wrestle with the line between reality and fantasy when it comes to feeling confident. This works two ways. A person who feels that they have no real abilities is not being realistic, but neither is a person who believes that they can fly. While I know for a fact that most people are capable of amazing things, I also know that gravity cannot by overpowered by confidence. That’s just not realistic.

Self confidence is personal

Short of flying, I know from personal experience that we are all capable of doing many things that are thought to be impossible by most people. The point is, popular opinion is not an accurate way to measure the upward limits of human potential or your own abilities. So please, do not allow the limiting beliefs of others to influence you.

Remember, self confidence is an inner feeling of certainty about what we have to offer, and what we are capable of accomplishing. It has absolutely nothing to do with what anybody else thinks. No matter what our abilities, some will believe in us and some will not. Your personal confidence is about what you believe; it is your personal perception that’s important.

Self confidence is empowering

Self confidence is a form of personal empowerment. It gives us a sense of certainty in our ability to bring about a favorable outcome. As a result, we have the energy to pursue our dreams and the personal power to overcome obstacles. But it also changes how others view us.

When you carry yourself with confidence, people are naturally attracted to that quality. When they sense your confidence in yourself, others tend to be confident in you as well. When you speak and act with conviction, it changes the way the way the world responds to you. This response creates opportunities that would not have existed otherwise.

Self confidence is the opposite of doubt

When people doubt their abilities it creates a very limiting dynamic. Many people are afraid to go for the life they truly desire. Lacking self-confidence they fear failure, worse yet, they actually anticipate it. Their lack of confidence stifles their willingness to reach out for their dreams.

These feelings of doubt and inability will also change the way others see them. It is easy to sense when somebody doubts their self. Even if their words don’t give them away, we can feel it on a subconscious level. It’s very hard to put confidence in someone who doubts their own ability. This means that they will not be exposed to the same opportunities as someone who radiates confidence.

What influences how confident you feel?

Self-confidence is influenced by several factors. Identifying these factors will allow us to use a variety of approaches to build exceptional confidence from every angle. Here are seven things that exert a strong influence on your sense of self-confidence:

1) Self-esteem. In a general way, self-confidence is influenced by self-esteem. Feelings of worthlessness (low self-esteem) will have a limiting effect on overall self-confidence. However, you can still experience high levels of self-confidence in specific areas in which you excel. On the other hand, a healthy self esteem makes it much easier to feel confident about your abilities in all areas of life.

2) Past results. If we have a record of producing our intended result in any area, we will be inclined to feel confident in our ability to duplicate that success. However, if we have tried and failed repeatedly, it will be difficult to feel confident in our ability to succeed. So, confidence tends to grow or shrink based on the results we produce.

3) External feedback. When the people around you, especially those you respect, express confidence in your abilities it really boosts your self-confidence. The same thing can happen when you see a peer, or even someone less qualified, accomplish something you want to do. This can create an attitude of: “If they can do it, I can do it.” It may not seem like much of an influence, but this kind of attitude has given people the confidence to accomplish things they never would have attempted otherwise.

4) Body Language. You may be thinking that your body language only affects the way other people perceive you, but there is actually more to it. Your body language, including your posture, gestures, facial expressions, gait, and attentiveness, all send powerful signals to your own nervous system. Every attitude and mood has corresponding body language, including feelings of confidence. If your body is sending signals to your nervous system that correspond to personal confidence, your attitude will adjust to harmonize with those signals.

5) Speech. Besides body language, what usually alerts you to the confidence level of another person? It’s what they say, and how they say it. There is a huge difference in the speech of those with exceptional confidence when compared to those plagued with self-doubt. Like body language, your speech also sends powerful signals to your nervous system. Your speech has a direct influence on your level of self confidence.

6) Self talk. This is the communication that no one else sees or hears. Self talk is what composes those silent conversations we have with ourselves. Little internal phrases like: “All right, way to go” tell our nervous system that we approve. Other phrases like: “You idiot, what’s your problem” send a completely different message. We can use self talk to build up our self confidence or to tear it apart.

7) Expectation. Whether or not we feel confident about our own abilities is directly influenced by the expectations we put on ourselves. If we expect to excel at some extremely difficult task the first time we try it, we could be setting ourselves up for failure. Do this too often and your confidence will take a beating. If we have more reasonable expectations and experience success, our confidence will grow. This is an area where balance is vital.

The benefits of self confidence

Learning to develop and display exceptional self confidence will change your life on every level. Personal confidence is like a powerful magnet. When you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, you attract new opportunities, resources, and people into your life. You will find ways to open whatever doors are needed to create the life you truly desire.

We have taken a close look at what confidence is, some of the things that influence it, and how it can change our lives. In future articles we will look at each of those influential areas and consider some practical ways to minimize self-doubt and build exceptional self confidence.

How’s your self confidence holding up these days?
What challenges have tested your self confidence recently?
The Lines are open!

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38 Comments

  1. Kikolani December 17, 2009 Reply

    My self-confidence is strong in some areas, but pretty weak in others. Like in work, I’m highly confident of myself. But socially, making friends in real life, I’m exactly the opposite. On top of being an introvert, I have had some really bad experiences that has made me kind of closed off to making personal acquaintances. It’s something I have worked on, but still haven’t done well at.

    ~ Kristi

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Kristi, your situation is not at all uncommon. I am not the least bit surprised that you feel confident at work, you are incredibly good at what you do. But chances are, you didn’t always feel that way.

      Your confidence probably grew as your skill level increased. You learned, applied what you learned, produced positive results, and your confidence continued to rise.

      In our personal lives, we sometimes need to overcome left over negative emotional anchors before we can feel confident about expanding into new or uncomfortable territory. Sounds to me like this might describe your situation. Dealing with and resolving the left overs from your past is probably the key to building greater confidence in the areas you mentioned.

      This may sound complicated, but it’s usually a simple process except in the case of extreme emotional trauma, especially during childhood. My book 7 Simple Steps outlines several simple ways to get past this old baggage once and for all.

  2. John December 17, 2009 Reply

    Well Jonathan, I know you said…

    “gravity cannot by overpowered by confidence. That’s just not realistic.”

    But I truly believe that absolute confidence has wings that allow us to fly. Sometimes we need to rethink our definitions of reality; of what is possible and what is not; metaphorically and realistically.

    Food for thought perhaps :-)

    John

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi John,

      I totally agree that “absolute confidence has wings that allow us to fly,” especially metaphorically. Having been a competitive hang glider pilot for many years, I agree that confidence can help us fly in a very real sense also. The difference is, my confidence was in my skills as a pilot, and the integrity of my glider. Should I decide to fly of a cliff without a gilder, bungee cord, or parachute , I don’t think that any amount of confidence would change the outcome.

      I do believe that we can do almost anything if we have enough self confidence, and I like to shoot for the stars in this regard. Still, there a natural laws in place that govern certain aspects of human ability.

      When we ignore those natural forces (like gravity) we are likely to get a painful dose of reality. Confidence may move us to create ways to work around those laws (the airplane for example), but challenging those natural forces head on is different thing altogether.

      Another example would be a breatharian, who lives solely on light and air. This may seem impossible, and yet many people do it. On the other hand, nobody can live without air. Why not? Because there is a law of nature that says air is required to sustain life. Again, no amount of confidence can alter this.

  3. Frank J December 17, 2009 Reply

    At this junction, a job, food and a home is all I need, but I do have luxury in my life, but that’s because I stay balanced. I wish for the early 90’s again!

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Frank, simple is good. I am curious about the reference to the early 90’s though. Was it because life seemed less complicated and challenging?

      • Frank Jovine December 17, 2009 Reply

        Economy was more robust in the 90’s. The bonuses and raises I remember were some great ones. The financial markets were doing well. The housing market was still affordable before the late 90’s through 2004 when it sky rocketed.

  4. Steven Aitchison December 17, 2009 Reply

    Self confidence is a strange creature, it took me about 25 years to find it and 25 seconds to wonder why I didn’t have it for 25 years. Experience definitely helps self confidence, but love, ability, and past results all help like you said Jonathan. It seems to be such an elusive quality but when we find it the world is ours for the taking. great post.

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Steve, I think your comment will offer a lot of hope for those who continue to struggle with a lack of confidence. It can be found and you are a good example of the positive results. This is one of my favorite subjects because that elusive quality you mentioned can be overcome with a few advanced life skills. Maybe you could share what helped you to finally find your self confidence.

    • Frank Jovine December 17, 2009 Reply

      Steven,

      That is classic man! I love when you said – “it took me about 25 years to find it and 25 seconds to wonder why I didn’t have it for 25 years”.

  5. Armen Shirvanian December 17, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan.

    On that question about how much self confidence is realistic, I would say it is as realistic as we are able to present it as. People who are lacking self-confidence are not able to present a facade of it, as it takes too much energy for them.

    Speech sure is a big part of it. The speech we use shows a lot, and we can be confident folks through our speech. We can use speech as a tool to build our confidence.

    My self-confidence has only maintained because of some of my good habits as a foundation for it.

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Armen, you are certainly right about how our view of what’s realistic rises or falls depending on our perspective. I guess I was referring to what is realistic when we have sufficient self confidence to back it up. Thanks for making that distinction, it’s an important one.

  6. Jonathan Beebe December 17, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’ve been reading around on your blog and it’s extremely informative, and your articles are very readable and engaging.

    This article is probably the best I’ve read on the topic of self-confidence, it really wraps around the whole concept of it. I like what you wrote under “Self confidence is the opposite of doubt”, because it’s so true how people are afraid to go after the life that they really want.

    There are two factors in my life that helped with my self-confidence personally. First, it was getting fit and in shape. I think the boost in self-esteem here is what contributed to my overall self-confidence increase (as you mentioned)… and secondly, it was getting married to someone I’m truly happy with.

    I think having a lifelong companion who accepts you for you who are, and is very supportive and encouraging is why my marriage has probably tripled my own self-confidence. While I’m not recommending rushing out and marrying the next person you meet (if you are single), I’m just pointing out how choosing the right person can really help contribute to your self-confidence.

    Thanks again, Jonathan, looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Jonathan December 18, 2009 Reply

      Hi Jonathan, and thanks for your very kind words. As it happens, I totally agree with the two factors you mentioned. It seems that many people don’t really grasp the full scale of benefits that come from being in shape. Physical fitness is not just physical, it dramatically affects every aspect of your, especially your self-confidence.

      After being in excellent shape for years, I foolishly let that aspect of my life get pushed into the background. Happily, I have remedied that little imbalance and my whole life has improved as a result.

      Concerning marriage, I know from experience that a truly happy marriage is so worth the effort. Regular readers know that I am very proud of my own 26 year love affair with my wonderful wife. There is no human endeavor so rewarding as a happy marriage.

      Having the right mate makes you want to be the best person you possibly can. Allow me to congratulate you on finding the right person. Thanks so much for sharing you thoughts with us Jonathan.

  7. Lana December 17, 2009 Reply

    Self-confidence is truly one quality that can transform our lives completely, I wish I had more self confidence growing up. I used to be very shy and thought that people didn’t like me much. Of course as a result I was finding proof of that belief everywhere and reinforced it even further. Took me a while to understand that vicious cycle and rebuild my confidence in myself. I heard about the link between self confidence and posture but never actually put much thought into it, it makes so much sense. I will definitely work on my posture now. Thanks Jonathan!

    • Jonathan December 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Lana, many people think that our nervous system only supports one way communication. Whether we are happy, sad, or depressed there is always a corresponding posture. In this case, our emotions are sending signals to our body that translate into a certain posture. But we can play that in reverse.

      If we assume the posture of someone with a high level of self confidence, it will send that signal to our nervous system. As a result, our state will adjust to harmonize with the messages coming from our body. This can happen very quickly, give it a try.

  8. raghavendra December 18, 2009 Reply

    Dear Jonathan, My self-esteem is becoming lower day-by-day because I am still a student at 24 years old and not earning a single penny. This makes me want to turn off in my life. I really want to be a responsible person, but time doesn’t seem to favor me becoming like that.

    • Jonathan December 18, 2009 Reply

      Hi Raghavendra, thanks for stopping by. Even though self-esteem and self-confidence are not the same, there is a very strong correlation between the two. I will be discussing this in a future article, but for now this article might be helpful: Self-Esteem or Self-Confidence, Are They the Same?

  9. Dragos Roua December 19, 2009 Reply

    Self-confidence is fundamental. I used to have trouble with it, like a wave with too much of an amplitude: either too self-confident, either cowardish. Seems like time was a good calibration mechanism: I now tend to be on the higher part of it most of the time.

    I liked the way you outlined the steps for a more consistent approach, especially the one about expectations.

    • Jonathan December 19, 2009 Reply

      With time comes experience, and experience is such a great teacher if we are paying attention. You always seem so confident Dragos, it’s hard to imagine you any other way.

  10. Ralph December 19, 2009 Reply

    Great Post!
    I tend to think that thinking too much can lower self-confidence. In a study that I read recently, they suggested that thinking too much may be the reason why introverts tend to lack confidence in social situations. Since being introverted is be energized by internal thoughts as opposed to the external world, may be seen as anti-social which tends to further lower their self confidence in themselves.

    Great post!

    • Jonathan December 19, 2009 Reply

      Hi Ralph, people can definitely over think themselves into a corner. The direction that over thinking takes has a lot to do with how a person is wired. Some people start out thinking “I could never do that.” But the more they think about it, the more they convince themselves that they can do it. Other people do just the opposite.

      If we know that our tendency is to keep thinking until we convince our self that we can’t do something, then for us, thinking too much is a problem. In this case, taking action based on the initial confidence would be a good habit to develop.

  11. Nea December 19, 2009 Reply

    What a great topic! The level of a person’s confidence or doubt determines the level of success that is possible. And I don’t believe there is any limitation other than that created in the mind.

    • Jonathan December 22, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nea, thanks for joining the conversation. So much hinges on our level of self-confidence, and yet so many struggle with it. To a large degree, it’s limiting beliefs that create doubt and close the door to happiness and success. I am hoping to pry open some of those doors with this series on self-confidence.

  12. mb December 21, 2009 Reply

    I think with self-sufficiency comes self-confidence. By self-sufficiency I mean simply the ability to sustain oneself, to keep oneself alive. The self-confidence necessary to accomplish goals and succeed in the world is, at least to me, not really necessary or always desirable. People put so much pressure on themselves to do and achieve great things when just being is enough.

    • Jonathan December 22, 2009 Reply

      Simplicity my not seem as glorious as massive achievement, but it can be equally satisfying and a whole lot less stressful.

  13. Stephen December 22, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. Some people allow their self-confidence to ebb and flow based upon particular successes or failures. I try to look at it in a big picture way. I’m confident about my ability to adapt, to meet challenges, to persevere, etc. in a general sense. This gives me a more level and balanced confidence that doesn’t have to take a beating when I try something that doesn’t work. Great topic!

    • Jonathan December 22, 2009 Reply

      Hi Stephen, that’s because your self-confidence is from the inner person. Real self-confidence is an integral part of our true identity and can endure the ebb and flow of external results. External results will never be an acceptable substitute inner confidence.

  14. Kirst January 28, 2010 Reply

    I read a comment a few comments up from raghavendra who is 24 and losing self confidence daily. I was JUST like that and raghavendra if you are following this blog at all, then please be encouraged that you can make it and you can do it. Find positive people to hang around – people that lift you up and don’t pull you down. If you are too shy to be around good people then be careful of what music you are listening to, what TV you are watching – on surround yourself with positive stuff,. The economy is bad now so you are not the only one who is lacking in money. Just hang in there…

    • Jonathan February 24, 2011 Reply

      Hi Kirst, what a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate your level of concern for others and commend you for your balanced advice.

  15. Onder November 4, 2013 Reply

    Great article Jonathan,

    I used to think that confidence was the same as self-confidence when it isn’t. It makes a massive impact in your life when it comes to doing things in your life and making progress.

    As an example. You may be able to innately confidently be able to change a light bulb for the first time yet have a complete lack of of self-confidence in yourself to believe that you can do it.

    Thats why people with high self-confidence seem to learn and progress in life so fast because their doubts don’t keep them back and push forward.

    I explain this in detail in my article. But basically, confidence and self-confidence go hand in hand. You can’t build self-confidence unless you take action and achieve.

    So essentially it’s all about pushing past our fears daily and making things happen. It’s the only way to truly grow.

  16. Jeeti Johal Bhuller December 9, 2013 Reply

    Inspirational stuff, yet when we are on the journey of escaping from a rut, a low ebb, caught in a loop, it seems so difficult, fruitless, sometimes as if there is no hope of emerging from the no existence. Success stories of folk who have pulled themselves from mundane existence to fulfilling life’s expectations, dreams, realising ones purpose, aims and agendas are are a great source of hope. All things are easy to those who have tried and succeeded. Breaking free from the tedium of survival to the triumph of becoming light and happiness again is a path of many milestones, we can wish for the epiphany, the light of a truth that will release our minds and souls from the dreary absence of happiness love and peace of mind.

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