Many people think that self-confidence is something either you have it or not; or maybe it is about a special talent we are born with. Self-confidence is a skill we can develop throughout our path as it is not a linear quality. You may be confident today in your daily tasks, or within your personal relations, while unconfident from professional perspectives.
Self-confidence is the strongest emotion we can develop and maintain. It can enable us to go beyond the challenges. It can save us from doubt, fear, and frustration. In a nutshell, self-confidence is an inner resource that can make us feel empowered and happy about who we are. What about self-esteem? Is there any difference between self-confidence and self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the value you give to yourself independently of the image others have about you. It is how you feel about yourself; if you are worthy, deserve great relations and great success. It is the result of our personal experiences and situations that have shaped our lives. It reflects your level of self-respect, your belief if you deserve to be happy. People with low self-esteem will find themselves in need of constant approval from others.
But don’t confuse self-esteem with self-image, as they are correlated but they have a slight difference. As defined by Deepak Chopra, a worldwide speaker on a set of topics dealing with the mind, body and spirit, “There is a difference between self-esteem and self-image. The real Self within you is beneath no one. It’s immune to criticism and it’s fearless. Do not confuse your image with your Self—your self-image is what other people think of you, and your Self (esteem) is what you think of you.”
Self-image is the belief you have about yourself based on peoples’ judgments and opinions. A focus on what they think about you is a quick door to frustration and dissatisfaction. In this regard, Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements says, “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
Self-confidence, however, has to do with action; our trust about our abilities to accomplish specific tasks. It may vary from one situation to another as you may be confident in certain aspects while unconfident in others. Your confidence is what enables you to move into action simply believing that you can succeed. It is about your belief in your ability to lead a team; to manage public speaking without doubt, to learn new skills, etc.
Self-esteem is about self-worth. A high self-esteem leads often to high confidence while an enhanced confidence does not reflect necessarily a high self-esteem. There are many people who are confident, have great positions and successful careers but they have very low self-esteem. Their worth and value are linked to the external resources they have- how much money they possess, how many friends they are surrounded with, how much power they have, how big their houses, etc. Once these resources are gone, these people, most often, find it difficult to start again.
To develop more self-confidence is also about enhancing your own self-esteem mainly when it is an issue. Four aspects to consider:
Go beyond Limited Beliefs
We all live somehow with limited beliefs either because of our education, family, or people around us. A limited belief is simply what you keep telling to yourself. It is about the inner reality you are creating in your mind that concerns only you. A low self-esteem is often the result of the limited beliefs that are hindering you from becoming the person you would like to be.
On a scale of one to ten, would you have a high or low self-esteem? Are you considering yourself as a victim? Do you have power over your personal life? If you are unable to find a job, will you feel crippled? Do you find that people are against you? Do you value yourself? Is it okay for you even if people don’t like you? If you have a level of less than five, then you have an issue with your self esteem. To go beyond these limited beliefs, you need to first to identify them to be able to reprogram your beliefs. According to many researches, it takes 21 days to reset the mind and think of yourself differently.
Mastery of Your Field
Some people may feel unconfident not because they lack competencies, but they simply lack mastery to their fields. Can we expect a doctor or a lawyer without a full mastery to the competencies related to his field? An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
In psychology, there are four stages of competence that reflect the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a specific field.
- Unconscious Incompetence: in order to enhance your skills, you need first to be conscious and aware of your incompetence you need to develop. You may be a great analyst but you still need to develop communication in order to communicate about your ideas and projects. To identify the degree of your incompetence, you need to move into action.
- Conscious Incompetence: now you become aware of your incompetence and it is only the beginning of a long learning process. You need commitment and discipline to carry on at this level as you may be exited in the first stages but this excitement may dissipate later.
- Conscious competent: this stage reflects commitment, patience, and self-confidence as you are growing more competent in whatever you are working on.
- Unconscious competent: this is a magical stage as it will enable you to move from the invisible into visible; from doubt, frustration, into self-confidence and full self-mastery.
The best example that can explain these four stages is when you master the art of driving, you become unconscious competent as you start driving without making any effort or focus. The skill enters the unconscious parts of the brain and become second nature. This is where you can do something effortlessly and without thinking about it. The confidence at the fourth stage have reached its peak, then these skills become even habits and you may not need to concentrate on them
When we stop learning, we stop evolving. Continuous learning is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated, to learn new skills, and develop more resilience as life challenges is an ongoing process. Mastery without learning is nonsense. The moment you stop learning, you will stop growing. Your number of years of experience in a specific job does not tell about your skills as you may simply be repeating the same tasks everyday without learning new competencies.
This part is complimentary to the previous stages as you may master your competencies, learn new skills but still have to handle your emotions and physiology. This part tells a lot about your abilities to handle stress, and new relations as it is about your attitude, the way you present yourself, your posture, breathing, tonality, and body gestures. You may have all the skills above, but you will have to reach out, speak up, communicate clearly, and argue about things that matter to you.
Self-confidence is a long life process, as it can wax and wane depending on your challenges. The best way to reach a high self-confidence coupled with an enhanced self-esteem is to go for great accomplishments. If you cannot see your self-worth and be confident about who you are, no one will. Great things start from Inside.