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An Overview of Self-confidence


Self-confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. How can anyone see how great you are if you can't see it yourself?

The dictionary meaning of self-confidence is the confidence in oneself and one's powers and abilities. But it is more than that. It is an attitude about your skills and abilities. It means you accept and trust yourself and have a sense of control in your life. You know your strengths and weakness well, and have a positive view of them. You set realistic expectations and goals so that you can achieve them, which will further add to your self-confidence.

According to Eccles and Harold (1991), self-confidence is identified as the self-concept of abilities. It includes two key components, which are perceived competence and a lack of anxiety. Specifically, individuals feel self-confident when they recognize that they have the needed ability to complete the task in question successfully. However, anxiety can undermine the self-confidence of a person.

Self-confidence has been further distinguished into general and specific.

Specific self-confidence (SSC) – It refers to the subject's confidence concerning the decision at hand.

General self-confidence (GSC) - It is defined as the extent to which an individual believes himself to be capable, successful, and worthy.

Types of self-confidence -

Self-confidence is a multi-faceted psychological trait. Sometimes, however, we get a little confused over the type of self-confidence we have. There are mainly 3 types of self-confidence –

Low self-confidence –

A person, though has a good talent for a specific thing, is not able to do the task due to a low self-confidence level. Such people avoid taking risks and hesitate to stretch themselves. They may not even try anything because of fear.

Over self-confidence –

Also known as cockiness, this type of self-confidence arises either from overestimating one’s abilities or underestimating the magnitude of the task ahead or both. Such people take too much risk. They stretch themselves beyond their capabilities, and never take other’s suggestions. They think that they are capable of doing anything difficult but mostly they fare badly. Such people are self-conceited too.

Realistic self-confidence –

The right amount of self-confidence is important for true success. At times, such people may not know that they have it. They have to know their true ability before they can exercise the right amount of self-confidence. By taking reasonable risks, they should stretch themselves and try hard to succeed.

Realistic self-confidence is built over the long term. It emerges when you see that the extra efforts you have put into something have resulted in an improvement. It flourishes when the efforts of each day, week, month, year, and decade accumulate to yield a major achievement.

Self-confidence is not an achievement. On the contrary, it is a natural outcome under certain conditions. Self-confidence is more of a general view of how likely a person can accomplish a goal, especially based on one’s experience.

Components of self-confidence –

Its components as mentioned below will help you understand what it is.

  • Awareness of abilities –
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Knowing what you can’t do helps you understand what you can do with confidence. It acts to boost your self-confidence if you know your limits. So you are in a position to choose what you can do efficiently and pass on what you can’t. Moreover, this adds favorably to your reputation.

  • Knowledge of priorities –

When you know your priorities, you can focus on them and pass on the rest. Being not clear on what is important in your life will undermine your confidence, and so you turn to others for guidance, which will further reduce your confidence.

  • Level of competence -

Learning specific skills will increase one’s competence in specific fields. Self-confidence is often tied to competence. For example, you want the pilot of the plane you are riding in to be confident. His confidence is based squarely on his level of skill and its proper use.

The same applies to you as well. It is also possible to lack confidence despite having an appropriate level of skill. But competence plays a big role, which comes with practice.

  • Proper assessment of others –

Often we feel inadequate when we see others as more self-confident. We must avoid any such comparisons with others. Everyone has a different level of self-confidence for which they have passed through a plethora of struggles. Understanding this comes as a relief and happens to build social confidence.

  • Action –

You have to take adequate action after weighing all the pros and cons of your approach so that there is a possibility of a positive outcome. Self-confidence builds as you take positive action and begin to see positive results. Another element that influences action directly is the lack of fear because it undermines self-confidence.


Steps to increase self-confidence -

There are specific actions that we can take to increase our self-confidence. They have been mentioned below:

1. Increase your abilities –

First, you must commit to doing so. Then this can be done through regular practice to achieve improvements that may be small at times. Such incremental improvement will boost your self-confidence.

2. Start with small steps –

You should focus on achieving something you know you can. Then, set a small goal and achieve that. This will build positive momentum and a belief in yourself. Thus you’ll develop new capabilities, which in turn will your boost self-confidence. Soon you’ll be setting bigger goals and achieving those too. Many people often make the mistake of shooting for something far bigger than their current capability. When they fail, they are discouraged, thereby undermining their self-confidence.

3. Use your past as the guide –

You may have doubts about your capabilities at times. Whenever such a situation arises, think of a time, when you achieved something but were doubtful in the beginning. Think of what you did to overcome the fears whenever you were fearful to attempt something. Thinking positively of previous achievements can help boost self-confidence.

4. Maintain a positive outlook –

Always remember that challenges are a part of life. Most of the problems out there have existed before you had to face them. The solution to the problems you're looking for might come in a variety of different forms. Be open to that. There are very few things that are impossible to solve. Most people resort to negative behavior whenever they're put in a challenging situation. This sort of thinking does nothing to help. And that is why it is important to maintain a positive outlook in every situation.

5. Counter negative outlook –

Our mind gives many negative thoughts about situations where we may feel a lack of confidence, a sense of inferiority, or fearfulness. Use auto-suggestions in such situations to counter all such negative thoughts with positive ones. They also help us to rehearse how we will go about facing the situation. Therefore, auto-suggestions reassure the mind and boost our self-confidence.

The bottom line –

Self-confidence is an attitude about one’s skills and abilities. People having self-confidence accept and trust themselves and have a sense of control in their life. They know their strengths and weakness well and have a positive view of them. One's self-confidence increases from experiences of having satisfactorily completed particular activities. In particular, the mindset that an individual has towards one’s goals is influenced by self-confidence.

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