It’s hard to underestimate the importance of confidence. Confidence in yourself is needed if you want to reach your goals and live up to your potential. Without it, you might not go after all the things you want out of life.
With enough self-confidence, you could begin that dream project. You could let go of all your fears and start living life on your terms. No fear or doubt could hold you back.
But self-confidence doesn’t come easy. It’s built over a lifetime of experiences and risk-taking opportunities.
Yet there are many things people do that undermine and hurt their confidence before they’ve even had a chance to build it up. Tiny little mistakes can cause big problems unless corrected.
Any of these eight mistakes could be killing your confidence.
1. Assuming you should feel as confident inside as others are outside
Everyone’s point of view takes place from the inside-out. That is, we see everything from our own thoughts, feelings and fears.
On the other hand, we can only see others from the outside-in. We can only see their actions and outward appearance, but not their inner thoughts and fears.
So when we compare ourselves to other people, we have mismatched viewpoints. Others may seem so self-confident that we think they have no doubts or fears. That can make us feel bad about our own confidence and any doubt can be seen as a sign of weakness.
However, if we actually were able to look inside other people, you’d notice that more people have doubts and fears than we realize. It’s just that we can’t dig into their minds to see it.
Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.
2. Forgetting to watch your body language
Little shifts in body language can affect your self-esteem and level of confidence.
Are you slouching? Are you in an closed posture and hanging your head low?
If you’re doing these things, you’ll feel extremely unconfident.
Stand up straight. Open your body language and lift your head up. Model your body language on confident people.
Your thoughts will change as a result. If you act confident, your mind will believe it.
3. Worrying about the things you can’t control
What if the weather turns bad and I arrive late?
What if I get sick?
It’s easy to get sucked into the land of “what if’s”. In this place, you worry about all those things you don’t have control over.
If you want to build confidence, you have to let go of those things you can’t control.
Worrying about these things makes you feel helpless. Instead of actively controlling the events going on around you, you’re passive. Things happen to you instead.
That’s not the sign of someone with confidence. Should you add to focus your energy on what you can control?
4. Negative self-talk
Watch your inner dialogue. What kind of thoughts do you have about yourself?
If you say a lot of mean things to yourself or come down hard on your mistakes, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
You may think that being hard on yourself will push you to do better next time, but it could also be cutting your self-confidence down.
Yeah, you might motivate yourself to do that thing, but it will hurt you later when you try to do something else.
If you make a mistake or don’t live up to expectations, learn from it. Shake it off and move on. Lingering on it with negative thoughts will not do you any good.
5. Trying to fix it in your mind instead of the real world
So negative thinking can bring you down, but does positive thinking bring you up? Yes, but only to a certain point.
You can’t build confidence completely in your mind. You can think positively and build inner confidence as much as you want, but eventually you have to bring it out into the real world.
The surest way to build confidence is to get real-word experience. Go out and do what you want to do. Learn from mistakes and keep building yourself up.
That’s how confidence is best built and maintained.
6. Overestimating your abilities
It’s good to be confident in yourself, but bad to be over-confident.
Over-estimating your skills will hurt you even more once you face reality. If you’ve built yourself up, you’ll have to deal with the fall.
That can be devastating.
You definitely want to push yourself, but be realistic about your skills. Don’t let a fantasy mindset crash against the wall of reality.
7. Never taking accountability
Self-confidence is about belief. You have to believe in what you’re doing and that your actions are exactly what you want to be doing.
That means taking accountability for those actions. If they don’t turn out exactly the way you want, you have to accept that and take responsibility.
Own up to your actions. Be accountable for them. If you honestly made the best decision with the information you had, you have nothing to be afraid of. If you didn’t, it may be time to re-examine your decision making.
In either case, own your decisions. Only those without confidence to back up their choices would back away from them after the fact.
8. Letting fear run your actions
It’s alright to be afraid – it’s part of being human. In fact, I’d say that fear is a sign that you’re heading in the right direction – it means you’re pushing yourself past your comfort zone.
But sometimes fear takes over. It leads to procrastination. We start avoiding things and push them off over and over again.
Instead of making conscious decisions to not do something, you let fear decide for you. Letting fear make your life choices means you’ve consciously decided to stop determining your actions.
You’ve let something else dictate what you’ll do. Self-confidence is all about believing in yourself and making the decisions you want to make. If you let fear do that for you, you have no room left for confidence.
photo credit:David Goehring