We hear that we need to be confident to do well in this world. But how do we know when we are confident? We can recognise this feeling when we feel good because we achieved something important to us, something that was difficult and took effort.
Confidence is the degree to which we believe our actions will achieve a positive outcome. It is believing that we are capable and can persevere with our efforts. It is dynamic, and it fluctuates depending on what is happening in our day and how we react to events (Harris, 2010).
However, life brings challenges and sometimes these can trigger a range of emotions that can affect how confident we feel to face events. When facing uncertainty, unfamiliar situations, or worrying about possible negative consequences, we may feel our confidence decreases as we are unsure how to respond to the situation. We may doubt our ability to do it well.
Sometimes, we may react by distracting ourselves from the challenge to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes, we may experience fear and wonder what to do to protect ourselves.
It is normal to feel vulnerable, and we may tend to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings, but suppressing them will only make it more stressful. Instead, it is best to acknowledge our feelings with curiosity and without judgment.
We all have these experiences from time to time (Harris, 2010). When dealing with a challenging situation, rather than judging ourselves because we are finding it so hard or questioning our ability, it is best to pay attention to step back to gain perspective.
As we give ourselves a bit of space and time to understand what is happening, we can get in touch with what matters. David (2017) describes it as listening to our courage that can manifest in a whisper that tells us that we are capable even when we have doubts or feel fear. When we are honest with ourselves and have the courage to feel our feelings with compassion, we can restore balance and a sense of confidence in our ability to deal with the challenge.
Tips to boost confidence:
Being authentic: It is good to reconnect with our values to remind ourselves of what is meaningful, what matters to us. We are more likely to experience a sense of inner balance when we are in harmony with our beliefs, and our behaviour is consistent (Joseph, 2016).
Developing emotional agility: Adopting a flexible and understanding attitude enable us to tolerate discomfort and manage our feelings. It also allows us to deal with uncertainty and adjust when change happens (David, 2017).
Developing self-compassion: It is normal to have questions, self-doubt, and feel vulnerable at times. As we develop our self-awareness, we can manage our reactions in constructive ways.
Remembering that we are human beings – we get tired can be upset or frustrated. It is helpful to keep an open mind and check our assumptions. It will allow us to gain perspective and explore options to deal with challenges. As we practice applying these strategies, we can strengthen our sense of self-efficacy, boost our confidence and strengthen our belief in our ability to deal with challenges.
David, S. (2016) Emotional agility. Get unstuck, embrace change, and thrive in work and
life. Great Britain: Penguin Life.
Gilbert, P. & Choden, (2013) Mindful compassion. Using the power of mindfulness and
compassion to transform our lives. Great Britain: Robinson
Harris, R. (2011) The confidence gap. From fear to freedom. London: Constable & Robinson,