Updated January 21, 2023 – I have noticed that at times I am super ready to take on the world, full of high self-esteem, while at other times I want to hide from the world under the safety of a thick comforter. As a life coaching helping my clients
Since my clients look to me to help them grow to become confident people, I felt I owed it to them and myself to find out what makes someone confident at times and not so much at other times.
This made me ask the questions: Is confidence a personality trait, a feeling or an emotion?
Confidence is neither an emotion, a personality trait or a feeling. Confidence is a way of being or an action associated with optimism, hope, and an expectation of being able to handle any resulting outcome (positive or negative). This applies to both: confidence in one’s ability to perform a task and one’s general self-confidence.
I often find that the my clients’ past experiences greatly affect their confidence level. In some cases, they may have had successful experiences in the past and this leads to a higher level of confidence in the present. On the other hand, if someone has experienced trauma, very stressful situations or even health problems, their confidence may be lower.
Confidence is something that we all need for success, whether it’s in our personal or professional life. A lack of confidence can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, which will ultimately affect the way we approach tasks and interact with others.
If you’re not quite sure what confidence is, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In fact, many people aren’t sure if confidence is an emotion or not. So let’s take a closer look at confidence and see if we can figure out what it is.
If Confidence Isn’t An Emotion, What Is It?
Confidence is often mistaken to be an emotion, but in fact, it’s really about an attitude.
A confident person is someone who looks within themselves and believes in their own abilities and inner knowledge. They have a clear vision of what they want out of life, without thinking that any obstacle can stand in their way.
They are able to focus on their own positive traits and make the most of the opportunities they find, while also taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions. This self-assurance helps them to stay motivated and resilient when challenges arise.
…the best way to boost your self-confidence is to open yourself up to positive new experiences and allow yourself to succeed.positivepsychology.com
The good news is that confidence can be developed over time by acknowledging and embracing one’s strengths, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, meeting new people, new experiences, and learning from mistakes.
A healthy mental state builds a healthy level of confidence. By believing in yourself and having faith that you can overcome any obstacle, it builds resilience and allows for personal growth. Having a healthy sense of self-assurance not only leads to greater peace of mind but also helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
By the way, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, it’s important to reach out and get the professional help you need. Anxiety disorder can be distressing and is treatable, so don’t hesitate to seek help if needed.
Positive self-talk is an important part of building a strong foundation for good mental health and confidence. It is important to say at least one good thing about yourself, to yourself each and every day. Remind yourself of your worth, as this will encourage self-esteem and motivate you to keep striving towards your goals.
Having strong self-confidence means that you can take on life’s obstacles with courage and resilience. It also gives us the capacity to understand others better and view things optimistically, turning these experiences into lessons to help us cope with future struggles.
Empowering ourselves with self-confidence helps us make positive life choices while giving us a sense of purpose in our journey ahead. And oftentimes, this type of positive thinking leads to positive outcomes.
Do Emotions Have A Role In Self-Confidence?
Absolutely! Emotions play a significant role in how confident we are. Our emotions can be both encouraging and discouraging when it comes to our self-confidence.
When we’re feeling positive emotions like excitement, happiness, or joy, our confidence increases. On the flip side, negative emotions such as fear, sadness, or anger can lead to a decrease in our self-esteem and confidence.
The negative effects of our emotions on self-confidence can be especially powerful if we compare ourselves to someone else or feel like we’re not measuring up. For example, if a friend achieves something that you haven’t been able to do yet, you might feel discouraged and your confidence could take a hit.
This could certainly explain why at times I feel confident and at other times I just want to hide away from the world!
Our emotions can also affect how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, it can be difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions. This can lead to a lack of self-confidence as we question our own abilities and doubt ourselves.
On the other hand, when we’re feeling content and peaceful, our minds are more open to ideas, solutions, and the possibilities that life has to offer.
About Perceptual Decisions
Perceptual decisions are the choices we make based on how we perceive and interpret our environment. They influence how we act, think, and feel in different situations. For example, if you’re feeling down or anxious, you may be more likely to stay away from social events or activities that involve risk-taking.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling positive and confident, chances are that you may be more open to taking risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Ultimately, it’s important to recognize that emotions can influence our self-confidence in both positive and negative ways. It’s beneficial to strive for balance when it comes to emotions and not let any one emotion become too overwhelming.
Taking the time to understand our feelings, accept them, and learn how to manage them can help us build a stronger sense of self-confidence. Accepting ourselves and understanding our emotions is just one part of boosting self-confidence.
I often tell my client that it’s so very important to set boundaries with others, practice positive self-talk, make healthy decisions, and more. With some dedication and effort, we can create lasting self-confidence in ourselves that will help us achieve our goals.
By taking it step by step, we can begin to develop our self-confidence over time. We need to remember that this process is an ongoing one – a journey rather than a destination – so it’s important to celebrate small victories and be kind to ourselves.
We all experience negative states from time to time, but it’s important that we don’t let these define us. Learning how to recognize and express our emotions in healthy ways can help us shift our focus away from troubling situations and better manage our overall well-being.
Are you ready to take charge of your life? Start by taking a closer look at how your emotions play a role in building up your self-confidence. With the right approach, you can use them to reach new heights and achieve success.
Types Of Emotions
Researchers such as Paul Ekman and Robert Plutchik have isolated 8 ranges of emotion that we experience. Emotions work a bit like the volume on a stereo. That is why there are so many in between feelings that aren’t like the day before, which explain the good days vs. bad days experience that we have all had.
Here are the emotional ranges
Looking back to a time when you were feeling super confident (or lacking) you might notice that you were actually experiencing high levels of joy and trust, or you were angry about something so you took an action that you might not normally take.
Likewise, maybe you abstained from taking action that you knew you should have, but you were afraid. So what we see is that confidence can arise out of an emotional experience rather than itself be the emotion.
And of course, there are combinations of emotions as well! Here’s a great PDF about emotions that you can look over.
What Is Confidence?
So, if confidence is not an emotion – then what is it?
Confidence is the belief in oneself and one’s abilities. It is faith in oneself, it’s an attitude that reflects a strong feeling of self-assurance and assurance in one’s skills, qualities, and judgments.
People with high levels of confidence have faith and believe that they can handle any situation or challenge that comes their way. They have faith in themselves to make sound decisions and to find a way to reach their goals.
When we dig a bit deeper, core confidence is the faith we have in ourselves to handle situations thrown at us. Core confidence is based on genetics and understanding. (This is what I found out about the role genetics play).
This is good news because it means that if you feel like you are lacking in this area, there is something you can do about it. (and -Ladies, here is an article I wrote about being the most confident woman in the room.
Here is an example. If you were a pilot who had years of experience flying a commercial plane, you would have an understanding of most everything related to air travel. You would know that you could handle virtually any situation that was to show up while you were flying.
You would also know that there could be circumstances that arise over which you would have no control.
But you would have enough confidence in your skill set and your experience in dealing with problems that you would be prepared for most issues. Further, if you suspected there might be a situation that you couldn’t handle you could do something about it by increasing your knowledge base and skill.
Confidence can be developed over time by making small successes, setting realistic expectations for ourselves, and taking the time to reflect on the accomplishments that we have achieved.
When we practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly, it helps us to become more confident.
Taking time to focus on our strengths and practice healthy self-talk can help to improve our confidence. Knowing what you are good at, identifying your weaknesses and working to make improvements in both areas can also help to boost confidence.
Finally, getting out of your comfort zone by trying new things or taking risks can give you a sense of accomplishment and increase your self-confidence.
Being confident doesn’t mean that you are perfect, it just means that you recognize and accept your flaws and don’t let them hinder you from trying new things.
When Do We Actually Experience Confidence?
We often experience confidence when we feel that our abilities and skills are sufficient to get us through a difficult situation. It is this faith in ourselves and our abilities that inspires us to act with courage, take risks, and persevere despite the odds.
Confidence can also be experienced anytime we leave our comfort zone and try something new. We may feel uncertain and afraid, but the fact that we are taking this chance can give us a sense of inner strength and motivation to succeed.
Sometimes confidence is simply borne out of practice or experience. We become more confident in our abilities through repetition and trial-and-error as we learn from our mistakes and grow with time.
Furthermore, when we look back at all the times we have achieved our goals, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, it is important to also recognize our successes. This will give us an undeniable sense of confidence as we move forward.
Ultimately, true confidence comes from within and is not dependent on external circumstances. It comes from having faith in ourselves and knowing that we will be able to succeed no matter what obstacles may come our way. No one can take away our confidence, and if we are confident in ourselves, then the sky’s the limit for all that we can do.
So next time you’re feeling a little low on confidence, remember to look back on your accomplishments and successes and use that to motivate you as you work towards achieving your goals. With enough practice, confidence will soon become a part of who you are!
Core confidence sits at the core of four other manifestations:
Hope, Self-Efficacy, Optimism, and ResilienceAlexander Stajkovic
If we consider that hope, efficacy, optimism and resilience point to a term that many of know as faith, it gives us another area to look when trying to figure out whether we have confidence and how we can acquire more if we are lacking.
Is A High-level Of Confidence Good Or Bad?
We need to take the morality out of the conversation about confidence. Our conditioning (and society) tells us to be confident. We say confidence is a “good” thing and the lack of it “bad.” Heroes are bold and confident. We strive to be confident leaders, but like in economics, there is a point of diminishing returns to scale.
There is a point at which we need to be OK with a lack of confidence. In fact, it may take more confidence to say that you lack confidence.
As a nurse, I’ve been in thousands of surgical procedures, and I know precisely what the doctor is going to do before he does it. I might even be tempted to say I could do the procedure myself, but it would NOT be good to communicate confidence in this area.
Saying that we lack confidence could be a great first step in your journey to healthy self-esteem that is natural. Let’s let it be OK to say we aren’t skilled in an area.
I think we would all agree that pseudo-confidence is a dead-end. Once someone is discovered pretending to have confidence in an area they don’t, it discredits them socially. But is confidence overrated?
When it comes to learning a new skill, you need just the right amount of confidence. Too much and you don’t think you need to learn it and too little you might think you can’t learn.
How Can You Increase Your Self-esteem?
Since we have determined that confidence is rooted in faith and said another way could be seen as faith based on understanding in action, we are left with the question about self-esteem. I’d like to define self-esteem as self-respect or better yet… self-love.
1) Self Love
In the book Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, the author mentions that you will never let anyone abuse you to a higher extent than you will abuse yourself. I think this is a good place to start when we evaluate our own self-esteem.
Pay attention to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong, you might notice the internal dialogue contains words that you quite possibly would never say to anyone else.
What do you say? I’ll tell you what I say as embarrassing as it is.
When I mess up, I say things to myself like,
- “You should have known better!”
- “You stupid thing.”
- If I lose out or miss out on something, I say “You don’t deserve that anyway.”
Really…What do you say?
Now I understand that you might rationalize it (like I do) by saying, “I’m just talking to me.” No one but me knows about this.
That is exactly my point. If you don’t start treating yourself better, why should anyone else?
I remember consciously choosing to buy more expensive things at the grocery store, saying to myself that I deserve it. That felt foreign the first time I did it. I thought I should buy cheap because that’s smart.
Again here you see the “Smart / Stupid” judgemental self-talk at play. It’s the opposite side of the same coin.
Ask yourself, what are you trying to prove to everyone? It may be the opposite to what you might suspect. Someone who wants to be seen as smart may need to go get lots of degrees.
If that’s the reason they are doing it, it shows that deep down inside, they feel like they aren’t smart and they have to compensate.
2) Avoid Or Decrease Social Media Time
The truth is, what you see on social media isn’t real life. People often post their best selves or carefully curated and filtered moments of their lives to make it seem like everything is perfect all the time. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to this false reality—it’s not a healthy way to boost your confidence.
Take a break from social media and use your free time to focus on yourself, set goals, and work on self-improvement. It can be hard to stay away from scrolling through feeds, but it’s worth it in the long run for your mental health and confidence. Plus, you’ll have more time for things like reading books or exploring a new hobby.
Imagine yourself in a specific situation that boosts your confidence. Maybe it’s speaking up in a meeting or going for a job interview. Picture yourself feeling confident, capable and self-assured.
Visualize how you look and how you feel when you’re successful and show the world your best self. This is a great way to remind yourself that you have the power to be confident no matter what.
4) Understand Your Own Defense Mechanisms
We all have defense mechanisms. These are the coping mechanisms we develop to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed. It’s important to recognize when we’re using these defense mechanisms so that we can become aware of our own patterns and identify how to break them.
Knowing your own defense mechanisms is a great way to start overcoming self-doubt and building confidence.
5) Meditation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and calm anxiety. Taking a few moments out of your day to focus on your breathing, or to simply be present in the moment, will help you maintain a more positive mindset and accept yourself with kindness and compassion.
This can also help build confidence by reminding you that you have the power to take your thoughts, emotions and behavior into your own hands.
6) Take On A Physical Challenge
Exercise is an excellent way to boost confidence. It releases endorphins which can make us feel good about ourselves, as well as working out a sense of accomplishment for having achieved a goal.
Furthermore, when we feel good about our physical selves, it can make us more confident in other aspects of our lives. Even a small task like going for a run or completing an online yoga class can be enough to get those endorphins flowing and help build your confidence!
7) Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Practicing self-acknowledgement is an important step in developing confidence. Recognize when you do something well and celebrate it! Whether that’s getting a promotion, completing a big project or simply finishing your daily to-do list – find ways to reward yourself for a job well done.
This could be anything from buying yourself something special to treating yourself to a delicious dinner. Celebrating your successes is a great way to help boost your self-confidence!
8) Surround Yourself With Positive People
As the old saying goes, “You are who you hang out with”. Spending time with people who lift you up and make you feel good about yourself can do wonders to boost your self-confidence. Seek out the company of friends, family, and even co-workers who make you feel appreciated and respected.
Not only will their positivity help you to feel better about yourself but having a strong support system can also be incredibly helpful when it comes to tackling big projects or working through challenging times.
9) Do Something You Enjoy
Taking the time to do something you enjoy can be a great way to boost your self-confidence! Whether it’s playing an instrument, exercising, painting, or watching your favorite show, taking a break from the stresses of life and doing something that brings you joy can help to remind you of all the things that make you unique and valuable!
Is confidence a skill?
Confidence isn’t a skill in itself as much as a result of being skillful. Confidence shows up when you are; or appear to be optimistic in your ability to handle any situation that arises, positive or negative.
Confidence usually shows up and is witnessed by someone external to you. On the outside, you come off confident because you have skills to deal with a given set of circumstances.
However, for the individual dealing with the circumstances, they are rarely aware of their confidence in that moment. They are simply reacting to circumstance drawing on the knowledge and experience they have acquired in the past.
Moreover, they act in faith, based on knowing they can manage with any type of outcome they experience at that moment. An outsider calls this confidence.
Is confidence a feeling?
I think we are used to saying that we feel confident, so it’s easy to see why it can get confusing. If we describe (self) confidence as a baseline level of aptitude to take on a challenge, I think we would discover that we would describe it more as a trait rather than a feeling. Feeling confident is most likely better described as feeling optimistic, capable or hopeful. Ever wondered if confidence is an biological? Check out the answer here.
If I’m afraid, does that mean I’m not confident?
A sign of confidence is your willingness to face your fears and take on life situations that indeed scare you. Feeling afraid is an emotion. Emotions are experiences we have when we encounter specific external stimuli. As stimulus could be something like “rejection.” (Here’s how to deal with rejection powerfully). Emotions are not good or bad from a moral perspective, they are simply a response hard-wired in our subconscious.
Now what we do in response to the stimulus is a choice. This is the area that confidence is first called on. We get choose at that moment how we will react. We choose to act in faith or shrink back in fear.
Great Books On Confidence
There are so many wonderful books on the topic of self-esteem and confidence. Just like positive affirmations and positive self-talk help you to become more confident, these books can continuously help you to achieve your best self!
Building confidence is all about self-discovery and growth, so take time to do things you enjoy and make sure your energy goes towards things that are meaningful for you. Spend the day working on a project, learning something new, or just doing what makes you feel good.
Make an effort to further yourself in any way possible. Read books and articles, exercise, stick to a schedule, and learn from the people around you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and take time to reflect on your life. All of these activities can help build confidence in yourself over time.
At the end of the day, all of your work will be worth it. So, make a conscious effort to stay away from social media as much as possible and focus on activities that help you build your self-confidence. Life is too short to be spent worrying about what other people think of you, so take the time to invest in yourself and develop your own sense of self-worth.