Self-confidence is a lifestyle.

By: Kajal Dhaneshwari

I was a competitive child who grew up winning every competition in which I participated. It was not easy, but my parents worked hard to polish me into someone who could shine, whether in school, sports, physical appearance, or more. 

Throughout childhood, my mom was a mentor who also acted as my creative PR. In comparison, my dad was an honest critic who pushed me to shoot for the stars, even if the moon is where I landed. 

They ignited the drive within me to work hard and taught me to be hungry for a taste of success. As the years passed, I developed an image of ‘Kajal is best at everything she does.’ 

It made me confident and happy.

In November 2010, I moved to Canada with my family. I was excited for a new adventure in the winter wonderland away from home.

But, the teenage years in Canada started to hit differently. I began to lose my identity at home. This affected my self-confidence and impacted how I perceived myself. 

Now, what is self-confidence? 

“Self-confidence is a person’s opinion about their ability to be successful,” says Sean Rogers, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at MacEwan University. 

He explains that it is a constellation of other concepts that overlap with self-esteem, self-assessment, and self-efficacy. 

What is self-esteem?

Rogers defines self-esteem as “how valuable you see yourself to be.” 

The belief you have about your overall worth results from self-assessment, how realistically or unrealistically you evaluate your skills and abilities to be. 

Unrealistic assessments can harm the level of your self-confidence, shares Rogers. It causes you to think you’re worse at a task than you actually are. 

What is self-efficacy?

It is often also confused with self-esteem.

“Self-efficacy is your sense of your ability to succeed if you try,” says Rogers. 

The significant difference is that self-esteem is about “being,” and self-efficacy is about “doing.”

When it is about doing, we often doubt our capabilities that reflect our behaviour toward a situation. 

High self-efficacy is having the confidence of knowing if you try hard enough, you will be able to achieve a task. 

Whereas, low self-efficacy is being afraid that it will not turn out okay, despite your efforts to achieve a goal. 

The higher your level of self-esteem and self-efficacy is, the more self-confident you will be.

How do you realize you lack self-confidence? 

To not be able to do something because you are afraid. It is similar to turning down opportunities because you lack self-assurance about your capabilities. 

“It is ultimately a felt feeling,” says Rogers. “It is far easier to realize that you don’t have enough confidence compared to overconfidence.” 

How do you become self-confident? 

Rogers says, “it is a question that many don’t like to hear about because the answer is you become self-confident by doing things that you are afraid of.” 

It is about putting yourself outside of your comfort zone regularly. Once you do that, you face your fear and overcome the anxiety that you may have experienced. 

That helps you understand if you could survive what you were once afraid of, you can do it again.

The experience you gain from that situation allows you to step outside of your comfort zone again.  

A clinical psychologist and MacEwan associate professor, Sean Rogers shares how he overcame the fear of public speaking.
If you fail, how do you continue doing what you are afraid of? 

To answer, Rogers quotes a Japanese proverb, “fall down seven times, get up eight.” 

It is about “developing that attitude and continue the process,” he says.

The lessons learned from that experience are far more valuable than the outcome. And, your efforts always count. 

When you start valuing the lessons, you know what to improve, and you will be prepared to try again. 

What are the common mistakes that hinder your ability to become self-confident? 

“Internalizing your failures,” says Rogers. 

Taking your failures to heart and associating that with your self-worth is an unhealthy setback. 

Rogers says the second mistake is biting off more than you can chew.

Realistically appraising what you are capable of is necessary.

Seven steps to self-confidence 

The steps to becoming self-confident will be different for every individual. Building up from a strong foundation is essential. 

1. Build a rapport with yourself.
  • You must learn to build and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. It includes figuring out appropriate ways to communicate to yourself as both a listener and a speaker. 
2. Be an honest critic to yourself.
  • Being a critic means you acknowledge and evaluate the good and bad. Though you must learn to speak about both positively to yourself. This will help you increase self-awareness and allow you to learn more about who you are and what you are made of.
3. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Getting to know yourself includes figuring out what you are good at and what you need to work on. It is essential to set realistic expectations and goals for yourself. It takes faith to understand one step a day may be a slow process, but at least you are moving ahead. 
4. Accept who you are.
  • There is a difference between knowing and accepting who you are. You may not like everything about yourself, but you have to acknowledge it and continue to be there for yourself. Come to terms with your reality and stick by your side in every situation.  
5. Confront imposter syndrome.
  • Rogers defines imposter syndrome as being capable of doing something that you know you can but feeling like a fraud. This happens because you doubt your skills, accomplishments, and talents. Defying imposter syndrome is vital to understand that you deserve all the good coming to you.
6. Focus on what you are good at while setting yourself up to do what you are not comfortable with. 
  • Everyone is born with exceptional talent and skills that make them unique. It helps to get into a habit of focusing on what you are good at and continuing to improve at it. Simultaneously, keep stepping out of your comfort zone to try one thing a day you are afraid of.
7. Unconditional positive regard.
  • It is a psychological term reflecting on the idea that “I accept you as you are, and that is okay.” Take pride in who you are. If you can’t accept yourself the way you are, others may not be able to do so either.  

With self-confidence, you can win the battles you haven’t even fought yet. Make it your life-style.

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