What’s Blocking Your Happiness: Self-Confidence
Well hello, friends! Happy belated Valentines day! I hope you all were able to spend it with your loved ones (that includes yourselves!). Matt and I enjoyed a nice quiet evening with Matt’s brother and sister-in-law, as well as his dad who’s in town on work. It was really nice not having to sit in an overcrowded restaurant (you know how they always squeeze in extra tables on Valentine’s Day!?) and shout over an overpriced meal…but no matter how you spent it, I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed it!
So today I want to continue discussing the factors that limit our happiness. Last week I tackled the issue of self-awareness, which is, in my opinion, probably the most important but the least talked about factor that affects our happiness. So if you haven’t read that post yet, I highly recommend you do so! This week I want to dive into self-confidence because it’s something most women struggle with and it’s probably one of the most common factors in limiting happiness. So take a seat, kick your feet up, pour yourself a big cup of tea and let’s get into it!
Self-Confidence…What exactly does it mean?
Self-confidence, put quite simply, is “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment,” according to the Oxford dictionary. I think there’s often confusion between self-confidence, self-esteem, and general confidence. I’ll try to clearly distinguish them. Self-esteem is more of a feeling of your own self-worth and self-respect. I almost liken it to how much you love and appreciate yourself. General confidence is when you trust in your abilities in a specific thing, like your confidence in break dancing for example (that would be a 0 for me). However, being a pretty self-confident person, I trust that if I wanted to get good at break dancing, I could – with patience, practice and a lot of falling flat on my face. Self-confidence to me is an overall good feeling about yourself and your abilities to accomplish your goals, that makes you happier and more successful.
I think we’re all born with a level of self-confidence that can both increase and decrease based on our experiences. We all start out with different levels (apparently it’s estimated that 25%-50% of our confidence is due to our genetics?!) but over the course of our lives we encounter feedback, situations and experiences that positively and negatively affect our self-confidence levels. So it’s always changing but that also means that we can work on improving it, if we so choose.
Signs you lack self-confidence
So you’re wondering if you’re self-confident, eh? Wondering how you stack up against the rest of us? Honestly, just ask yourself right now how much you trust yourself and your abilities to accomplish any goal you set on a scale of 1-10. That right there should tell you how much self-confidence you have. Here are a few other signs to be aware of. I bolded the ones that rang extra true for me. And just to give you an idea of where I was at, I would’ve ranked myself at about a 5/10 about a year ago, whereas now I would rank myself around a 8 or 9.
- You avoid taking risks or getting outside your comfort zone
- You let other people dictate your actions, behaviors or outcomes of situations
- You have a fear of looking dumb, making mistakes or failing
- Feeling the need to explain yourself, your mistakes, and your decisions to others
- Blaming others and taking on a victim mentality that things happen to you and that you have no control over them
- Making excuses to avoid taking the blame and prove you’re not incompetent
- Seeking external validation or approval from others
- You are often unsure of your opinions or decisions
- You don’t try new things or you give up too easily
- You compare yourself to others
- You judge other people to make yourself feel better (consciously or subconsciously)
Tired of feeling this way? Download my free 9 page Self-Confidence Workbook to boost your self confidence and increase your overall happiness. Click the image below.
Related Post: 5 Misconceptions about Happiness that Stress You Out
How a lack of self-confidence limits your happiness
I haven’t always been as self-confident as I am now, like I said. And even now I am still working to improve my levels and get better. But I did grow up surprisingly confident for a kid who looked like this:
HAHA. You probably don’t believe this is me…but it is, just 14 years younger. Not my best look…poor hair choices plus awkwardly laughing at the photographer’s not funny joke makes for a great yearbook picture if anyone is curious for my tips. #awkwardschoolphotos, amiright? Every year, without fail, my parents sent out my brother’s and my school photos to family and friends. The year this photo was taken (my 6th grade year), they did not. Maybe my mom was embarrassed because she was the one who cut my bangs? We’ll just say that’s the reason. LOL.
Anyway, I have always been good at sports and a good student so I think my general confidence increased as I grew up because I was always getting better at things I was interested in. But I also avoided the things I wasn’t good at, so I limited my failures and criticisms, which helped my confidence but hindered me in other ways (you can read more about that here).
But I think I always mistook my high confidence in certain subjects for my overall self-confidence, not realizing that I was actually pretty terrified of doing anything outside of my comfort zone. I obviously didn’t trust myself to do or learn anything new, I only trusted myself in things I already knew I was good at. So anytime I was presented with something new, be it a promotion at work or a challenging activity, my feelings of self-confidence plummeted.
“I don’t have enough experience to be in this position.”
“I suck at this, I should just stop now before I get too far in over my head.”
“I’ll just sit this activity out because I have no idea what I’m doing and I hate to look stupid.”
“Ahh, I’m going to fail at this and then what will I do!? Everyone is going to judge me and WHOMP I fail at life.”
Have you ever had thoughts like these or ones similar? These are just some of the many thoughts that would flood my head when I was feeling insecure about anything. How can you live a happy, meaningful life when you aren’t confident in your abilities to do new things? That just sort of crushes any chance of you moving forward in life.
Instead of putting myself out there, I just tried to limit these feelings because they felt so awful to encounter. I avoided situations where I knew I wouldn’t be good at something. Looking back I even realize now that I would sometimes slack off at work when I got a promotion so that if I didn’t live up to the expectations of the new title, I had an excuse – I just wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t care enough. I was giving myself an excuse in case I failed. Wow. Saying that out loud is actually pretty jarring.
Talk about self-sabotage, right? My lack of self-confidence was not only limiting my job prospects and career opportunities but it was stopping me from having new experiences and from just enjoying life in general. Think about what your own self-confidence, or lack thereof, has stopped you from doing in the past. Is that really any way to live? Do you want your lack of self-confidence to continue to dictate the direction of your life and your experiences? I didn’t.
So what changed? How have I been able to move past this?
How to build self-confidence
I think part of what has changed recently was getting clarity on what I truly want out of life and aligning with what many people, including myself, call my true self or soul. With this clarity I feel like I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I truly want out of life, and as a result my self-confidence has skyrocketed. It’s a little hard to explain but it’s like a feeling of just utter confidence that I can do anything and an unwavering trust that everything will work out as it needs to. Having that trust that no matter how things end up, no matter what failures I encounter, or what criticism I endure, I will always end up stronger and smarter and more experienced. It’s almost as if there’s no more failure to be afraid of. It’s not that failing disappears, it doesn’t, but it’s just reframed in my mind, like just another stepping stone to success.
I was talking to my friend Ami recently about making bold choices and how when you’re aligned with your true self, you just seem to have so much trust in your ability to make things work that you don’t even fear the risks anymore. For her, she left a full time job to pursue acting, something that has always been her dream, and even though she’s not making much money right now, she’s happier than ever and she knows with utmost certainty that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
For me, I’ve left my full time job to freelance so that I can spend more time on my writing and blog. Most people think I’m crazy, sure, but to me I couldn’t be any more confident that I will make it work. And just like my friend, I’m happier than ever. I don’t think I could ask for more self-confidence than that right now. It’s an odd feeling to be so self-confident, so sure of yourself and your decisions. It’s a new feeling for me, but it feels fantastic.
If you want to learn more about how to connect with your true self, I suggest reading my post about why you should spend time alone. I also suggest downloading my 21-Day Soul Alignment Ebook since it’s 25 pages + a workbook all about my process for getting clarity and aligning with my soul – more information than I can fit in this post!
If that doesn’t sound like your jam just yet and you just want some practical, every day tips on how to build your self-confidence, download my free worksheet by clicking the image below.
I would love to hear how you have worked through your own self-confidence struggles and what you’ve learned along your journey. Let me know in the comments!
As always, thank you so much for reading!
With love and gratitude from my heart to yours,