Why do we suffer from a lack of confidence?
Everybody experiences a decline in confidence at certain points in their lives. In most cases, the reason for the lack of confidence is identified and resolved. For example, a skill is learned or improved upon, positive feedback is provided, or the individual learns how to use positive self-talk.
In some cases, though, the lack of confidence can be so far-reaching that it affects every aspect of the individual’s life. Their self-esteem drops and they start to feel anxious about their ability to do even the tasks and activities that they are proficient in.
Examples of circumstances that can lead to confidence issues include the following:
- Perceived lack of ability to perform a task or participate in an activity that requires skill or knowledge
- Prior bad experiences that the individual fears will be repeated
- Physical, mental or sexual abuse
- Body image issues resulting from societal expectations and messages
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression
- Major life events, such as job loss, the birth of a child or the death of a loved one
How can it affect us?
Confidence issues affect everybody in different ways. Common effects of low confidence include the following:
- Anxiety, and a feeling of “butterflies in the stomach”
- Insomnia, interrupted sleep and bad dreams
- Loss of appetite
- Depression that may be accompanied by a decline in self-esteem
- Withdrawal from activities that previously provided enjoyment
What can I do to improve my confidence?
People build up their confidence in different ways, but those who have a chronic confidence problem may have more difficulty. Some steps that can be taken are as follows:
- Identify why you are suffering from a lack of confidence. It is a task that has to be completed, a troubled relationship with a family member, or some kind of crisis in your work or personal life?
- Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you telling yourself about your abilities, your character and the way you look?
- Challenge negative thinking. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is true. Is your negative thinking based on actual evidence, or on false ideas?
- Replace negative thinking with positive thinking. Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made in the past, consider what lessons you might have taken away from something, and use positive language in your self-talk.