Confidence really is thrown around the place as something that everyone needs to have and should develop. “Be Confident” is the main piece of advice given to every nervous guy in the world. But confidence is this ethereal, intangible thing that’s so vast it makes it almost impossible to just “be confident”. Despite the well meaning intentions, “be confident” is usually bad advice because the follow up question is always “How do I be confident?” Well, if you don’t know what exactly confidence is, focusing on the how won’t help you much.
So what exactly is confidence, then? Confidence is multi faceted; there are components that need to be mastered in order to have true, lasting, unshakable inner confidence. I break confidence down into eight areas, which cover the all the quadrants of living: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical (actions). These areas are not completely discreet and separate, but overlap each other. Working on one area will have a knock on positive affect on all the other areas of your confidence.
1. Self Acceptance means understanding who you are and accepting your faults. It’s only after you begin to accept yourself that you can begin to change and grow into the person you want. If you don’t initially accept yourself, you’re constantly feeling ashamed of who you are. Self acceptance also means accepting the level and pace of your growth, and giving yourself permission to be you, and permission to fail. Self Awareness forms a large part of self acceptance, as you develop the ability to notice which other areas of confidence you’re lacking, accepting that, and then working to rectify them.
2. Self Respect – Taking care of yourself and treating yourself right. This includes not just the actions you take but also how you talk to yourself, which is so important it cannot be understated. You’re going to be talking to yourself all day, feeding your self image and subconscious with messages of who you are. Are you going to beat yourself up all day, or treat yourself with respect?
3. Self Esteem is the value you place yourself. Recognising and affirming that you are good enough, worthwhile and valuable. As a part of self esteem, it means not accepting what you consider substandard or second rate behaviour of yourself and others.
4. Self Belief – Trusting yourself and having faith in your judgement, skills, and yourself as a person. Self belief is the thought that regardless of the outcome, you’ll be able to handle it. No matter what happens, you’ll be okay.
5. Self Love – If you think about the euphoria of falling in love a large proportion of that is the same with confidence. You feel energetic, excited, and like you could take on the world. With practice, building these feelings inside of yourself will really boost your overall confidence. Confidence and happiness are usually synonymous, just like love is a powerfully positive and blissful emotion. Loving yourself includes liking yourself. This concept might be difficult to grasp at first, as the phrase “he loves himself” is usually derogatory in today’s culture. I’m not referring to egotism here, but genuinely living and loving yourself.
6. Self Assurance – This is what most people with say when you ask them what a confident person is, self assured. Being aware of your purpose and being the one to validate yourself, rather than looking to others to validate us is a major part of self assurance. A difference between self assurance and self belief is akin to the difference you feel when you say you know something as opposed to you trust something. Knowing includes absolute certainty in yourself. Without belief, however, your resilience to setbacks and loses will crumble. Self Assurance is just knowing that you’ll succeed at what you do, self belief is knowing that regardless of the outcome, you’ll be okay. Both are necessary and complimentary. Self belief is what keeps you going, self assurance is what gets you there.
7. Self Determination is freedom, being in complete and total control of your reality. With Self Determinism you are the ultimate authority in your own life, deciding what your values and beliefs are, and then acting in total accordance with them. You make the rules of your own reality.
8. Self Admiration –It might go against the grain to suggest that people become proud, but I’m not suggesting egotism. I chose the word admiration over pride because of the negative consequences usually associated with the word. It’s okay to be proud of who you are, to acknowledge and celebrate the great things you’ve done and the fantastic person you are!
I’m not entirely sure whether some aspects of confidence are higher than others. I definitely belief that only focusing on one aspect without working on all areas will leave you vulnerable and your confidence incomplete. Self Assurance, Determinism, and Admiration are definitely what people think of as being the key components of confidence, but without accepting, valuing and respecting yourself you can’t possible hope to develop them. I think that loving yourself and believing in yourself permeate all areas of confidence, can be worked on all the time as you can always develop greater levels of love and belief.
This model of confidence can be used as a diagnostic tool to gauge your own confidence. When you feel unconfident you can look at what specific area of confidence you are lacking in, and then work on it.
So if, for example, you feel nervous and unconfident about talking to a stranger, you can ask yourself ‘what specific area of confidence do I need for this?” Do you think you’re not valuable/worthy to talk to her (Self Esteem)? Are you nervous in case she doesn’t like you (self acceptance)? Can you not see yourself being happy after the conversation (self assurance)?
I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy looking at confidence itself, and not just the outer actions that will hopefully give you confidence, and I really belief that breaking confidence down into it’s component parts really makes real confidence attainable and achievable, rather than this elusive feeling.