Do you ever have that gnawing feeling in your stomach, like you don’t belong or don’t have what it takes to fit in? I know I’ve felt that way far too many times. If you are like me and have a habit of struggling with a lack of self-confidence, it’s helpful to know what’s normal and when to pay closer attention to your mental health.
By the time you finish reading this, you should understand where the boundaries are for you so that you don’t do life simply believing that all the confident people around you have it all figured out, and you are the only one who feels like they don’t have what it takes to live a life you love.
The Signs of Confidence and How to Know If You Are On Track
Self Esteem vs Self Doubt
These signs of confidence may include:
- An ability to admit your mistakes without feeling the need to punish yourself for them
- An understanding that you can improve at anything, but also a belief in what you are already good at
- A willingness to take on new challenges and experiences, even if they make you feel uncomfortable or anxious at times
- A realization that nobody is perfect, and everybody occasionally makes mistakes
- A focus on the opportunities that come from failure as well as success
- Acceptance of yourself and others; lack of judgment
- An understanding that you cannot control everything—and how to deal successfully with this fact
- Ability to live in the present rather than worrying about what will happen in the future or dwelling on the past
- Believing in your own abilities, even if they are different from those around you
- Respect for yourself and others without elevating yourself above anyone else
- Believing that you have something to offer the world–that your perspective is valuable.
What does self-confidence look like?
First off, a great way to get rid of poor self-esteem is by paying attention to your body language.
If you can learn to control your body in different ways, you will begin to get access to your headspace. Low self-confidence will be a thing of the past.
- Head Held High
- Shoulders Back
- Walk with Purpose
- Well Groomed
- Looking Others in the Eye
- Focused on the Good Things Going on in Your Life
- Taking Responsibility for Your Life
Regardless of your body image, spend a lot of time walking tall with your head held high. Make a conscious decision to smile (even when you don’t feel like it)
Focus on your positive qualities and not negative ones. Spend little time thinking about negative past experiences. It’s a vicious cycle anyways. Healthy Eye Contact – Being able to look new people in the eyes when you speak with them (think job interview). Speaking up for yourself without hesitation.
Take responsibility for your actions, no matter how minor they are. While you might not be in control of everything, you can control how you react.
The Healthy Self-Esteem Personality Trait Checklist – What to Avoid:
Here is what confident people don’t typically do a whole lot of:
People with healthy confidence levels:
- Don’t overfocus on appearance
- Don’t try to change their personality to please others
- Don’t chase likes and follows on social media (less self-centered)
- Don’t ignore their own judgment
- Don’t put others down to feel good (happy for others)
- Don’t have a need to dominate conversations in social situations
- Don’t avoid conflict
- Not clingy
- Don’t wait for permission to act
- Don’t seek happiness from the outside
- Don’t focus on weaknesses
- Don’t neglect their skills
- Don’t need constant attention
- Don’t resist learning new things
- Don’t get too comfortable (willing to get out of your comfort zone)
- Don’t tell lies to themselves (limiting beliefs)
- Don’t force their views on others
- Don’t compromise values
What Confidence Doesn’t Feel Like:
You may assume that self-confident individuals are free from the following signs of low self-esteem:
- Insecurity about appearance, including a need to please others by wearing the latest fashion
- Needing constant approval from others
- Extreme self-consciousness in social situations
- Being uncomfortable around others or by yourself
- Trouble taking compliments or recognizing your good qualities
- Intense stress and anxiety before big events or presentations (auditions)
You may assume that people with a confident personality are free from hard work, when in fact they are typically working hard at their goals every single day.
If you currently struggle with confidence (or lack thereof), it is important to know that there are plenty of things you can do to work on your confidence—it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you are consistent.
Confidence won’t come from looking for outside sources of happiness—it will only come from within, once you have developed a strong sense of self and learned how to communicate it effectively.
When people around you ask why you don’t talk more in social situations, perhaps the reason is that they don’t want to hear what you have to say.
A great stepping stone can be found in my previous article, “How to Build Unshakable Confidence”.
There is a lot of confusion around what having confidence feels like and what people EXPECT confidence to feel like.
To dispel some of the common misconceptions of what confidence “actually” feels like upfront, it’s important to understand that you may not feel that different once you have achieved a higher level of confidence.
Do others perceive you as confident?
First off, if you are here with me reading this, you are probably trying to get a clear understanding of what the difference is between you and others. You’d like to be able to define the social gap between you and others whom you perceive as “confident.”
If so, keep reading.
For many years (decades really), I felt like I was an outsider. In many ways, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I also had the sense that everyone around me was more grown-up, better put together.
I tried to compensate for this by talking, trying to be funny. But when I left many social gatherings, I felt exhausted.
Today, there is a big difference as to how I feel with others.
Making the Connection Between Confidence and Your Own Humanity
I’ll tell you how it clicked for me since I think it might help you figure out a scenario of how you can make it click for you.
I was in a large conference room, standing nose to nose with a stranger with no place to go. There were about 3 inches of space between me and him. I remember he had dark brown eyes. We said nothing. It was part of an exercise for a workshop. A few minutes went by, and another person stood nose to nose with me. This time, the man had light brown eyes. I noticed his breathing. I noticed the micro-expressions as his eyes attempted to understand what was going on.
I noticed that he was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable. The breathing was similar. The struggle for understanding was similar. We were both experiencing similar things in terms of awkwardness.
That’s when it hit me. His experience of the world was so similar to mine that I realized that on some level we are connected.
So what’s the big deal, right? You’ve probably heard that we are connected a million times. Show me connected in a busy mall, airport, or social gathering where it actually matters whether you can hold your own.
Let me explain what exactly shifted.
Here is the best way I can describe it. The me (the reflection of me) I discovered in him, is the me that I’ve been afraid of all this time.
If he is much like me, and others are much like me, then what I spend my time fearing is…. well – in essence “me.” Or, better put, the person with the power to judge me for not being adequate, being weak, or not belonging.
A big part of the journey to feeling confident socially is that I now believe that generally speaking the experience of what it is like to be human is quite similar from person to person.
We all have our fears, uncertainties, things we are good at, and activities we are comfortable doing. We all judge. We all take an assessment of others, but somewhere in there, I found hope because the monster in others is no bigger than the monster (of judgment) in myself. So, if others are for the most part like me, then, what am I afraid of?
Have you ever noticed that you are easier on others than yourself? Is it easier to overlook the shortcomings of others than yourself?
Quite likely the negative self-talk and harsh inner critic you are experiencing is the worst it will ever get.
Maybe you’ve heard it said, “What someone else thinks of me is none of my business.”
Given that attitude, it becomes a whole lot easier to let go of being afraid of screwing up in front of others.
Letting It Go, So You Can Begin Building Confidence
For you to show up as confident, it’s going to depend on the situation. I’m sure that there are certain situations like hanging out with a family member or a good friend, where you don’t feel like you have a lack of confidence.
I’m only telling you this because I think we can get caught up with the notion that there is some magical breakthrough that is going to happen to you. Suddenly, you feel unbelievably confident in every situation you find yourself in.
While there are defining moments that can shift your state of being, you may only get access by choosing to press through things that are uncomfortable.
I’ve come to believe that confidence grows over time like an oak tree, but maybe a little faster, wink.
A lot of what determines your level of confidence is going to be experience-driven. It can come with age, although it doesn’t always happen that way.
Oddly enough, learning to accept yourself the way you are and the way you are not, is the doorway to deepening your self-belief, and strengthening your self-image.
We all have a self-image, and the way you see yourself determines your experiences and results. At the Matrix (Bob Proctor’s event), I learned something important. It cost me $15,000 to learn this. I hope that you will find it useful.
Sandy Gallagher said, “It’s often not who you think you are, but who you think you are not that keeps you from becoming the person you want to be.”
I’m sure she borrowed it from someone else.
Further, she said, “If I’m going to be free, I’ve gotta be me. Not the me you think I should be, not the me, my parents think I should be. To be free I’ve gotta be me. So, I better figure out who that me is.”
We often relate to ourselves as our name or our body, but you are more than just your name. You are more than your body.
You don’t say I am hand, am name, am head. You say, “My hand, my name, my head.” So, who is the me that is referenced to here?
Who you are can and is defined. The interesting part is that you might not know this yet. You may feel like you are defined by your circumstances and by how others perceive you.
To some degree, it’s true. However…
Did you know you can change this? First, you have to change the way you see yourself.
I hope this thought exercise will help you begin to paint outside the lines when it comes to your inner critic.
Here is an article I wrote about How to become a better version of yourself. I think the steps in there will take you down the path to what you are hoping for.
How to Ask Feedback From Others On How Confident You Are
I find that if you want to know all you have to do is ask. But there is a special way of asking that will actually elicit a truthful response.
Ask the person you are talking to, “What do you think others might say about how confident I am?” Then mention, “I know you would never think this way, but what do you suppose others might say if I weren’t around?”
If they indulge you, you will get really good feedback. Just make sure to listen. Don’t interrupt or argue with them. Just take it as feedback. Gather the information like a researcher, not the part of you that might take offense.
Set aside some time to really think about what kind of impact you have on others. This is where the rubber meets the road.
After all, if you are asking for feedback, it’s likely that you want to get better in the area of being confident.
I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately. I have several friends, all uncommonly beautiful and talented that seem to have it all together. I envy their seemingly innate ability to be in the moment and own any space they occupy.
There is a quiet power and ease about them that is captivating.
Can You Feel Confident All the Time?
The fact of the matter is that nobody, not even the most confident person you know—yourself included–can feel confident all of the time. There will be good days and bad days. That comes with the territory. But the good news is that as you begin to make small improvements, it changes the trajectory in a way that will have lasting positive effects.
Confidence isn’t something to be expected in every situation, but rather something to value when it’s present.
A lack of confidence doesn’t mean anything about your overall value or worth as
The Signs of Confidence and How to Know If You Are On Track
Self Esteem vs Self Doubt
These signs of confidence may include:
An ability to admit your mistakes without feeling the need to punish yourself for them
An understanding that you can improve at anything, but also a belief in what you are already good at
A willingness to take on new challenges and experiences, even if they make you feel uncomfortable or anxious at times
A realization that nobody is perfect, and everybody occasionally makes mistakes
A focus on the opportunities that come from failure as well as success
Acceptance of yourself and others; lack of judgment
An understanding that you cannot control everything—and how to deal successfully with this fact
Ability to live in the present rather than worrying about what will happen in the future or dwelling on the past
Believing in your own abilities, even if they are different from those around you
Respect for yourself and others without elevating yourself above anyone else
Believing that you have something to offer the world–that your perspective is valuable.
- How do you feel high confidence?
How does high confidence feel?
Hyper-focused, alive! Outgoing, excitable. Ready for anything. Energized to get things done. Experience everything to the fullest. Embrace all your emotions and feel them fully. Strong–able to handle anything that comes your way.
- What does lack of confidence feel like?
Depressed, lonely. Doubtful about anything. Fearful of trying new things. Can’t handle being alone for too long. Dressing up to avoid judgment. Fear of being judged or looked at. Sad, unmotivated. Ever-changing moods–depressed one day, pissed off the next time someone sees them. Weak–unable to handle what’s in front of you.
The Best Ways to Deal with Negative Thoughts that Keep You from Feeling Confident
Negative thoughts are a part of life, but sometimes they can hold you back from being confident. Negative self-talk and the lies we believe about ourselves can hold us back from achieving our goals and dreams. Learn how to handle negative thoughts so they don’t stop you from being confident.
1. Identify What Types of Negative Thoughts Are Holding You Back
Everyone has an inner critic that tells them that they aren’t good enough. Your inner critic wants you to doubt yourself and your abilities so it can keep you stuck in a rut and not achieving your dreams.
When you hear negative thoughts running through your head, write them down. You have to be able to identify what types of thoughts are holding you back so you can deal with them and stop letting them hold you back.
2. Accept That You Are Human and You Make Mistakes
You are human, and you make mistakes. Accept that you are human and won’t always get everything right. And accept that if you make mistakes, you can work on fixing them and making improvements.
3. Change Your Negative Thoughts to Positives
You will never reach your goals if you tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. Your inner critic will always have something negative to say, and you need to change how it’s talking to you.
4. Avoid Comparisons and Stop Labeling Yourself
When you compare yourself to others, you will always come up short. Stop labeling yourself as “not good enough” or “inferior.”