“The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” Blake Lively.
According to an article in Psychology Today, confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed, and the willingness to act accordingly. A realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge are required to be confident.
Projecting confidence is the proverbial putting your best foot forward, and helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also a desirable trait, as confidence helps put others at ease.
In order to strike a healthy balance between too little and too much confidence, a realistic appraisal of your abilities will keep you grounded. Too little confidence can prevent people from taking risks and seizing opportunities in school, at work, or in their social life.
Too much confidence can come off as cockiness, arrogance, or narcissism. Overestimating one’s abilities might also lead to problems such as failing to complete projects on time.
Confidence is fluid rather than a fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time. It can also be shaken, or lost by experience.
Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves into and getting accustomed to a situation they may fear can assure people that nothing truly bad will happen. And such interactions get easier with practice.
Outside of a social context, one can gain a sense of confidence from personal and professional accomplishments. Continuing to set and meet goals will foster the belief, and rightly so, that one is competent and capable.
Confidence is really just the degree to which you think and feel your actions will achieve positive results. In sports, for example, no matter how bad a shot a player takes when they shoot the ball, they think it is going in. Why else would they take the shot?
Confidence and self-esteem are not the same. Self-esteem refers to general feelings about yourself; confidence refers to your belief in and feeling that you can perform a task successfully. Some people have good self-esteem but no confidence that they could perform a difficult, skilled task, or compete with a professional athlete. The better you feel about yourself, though, or the more self-esteem you have, the easier it becomes to build confidence for a specific task.
We all know that being confident gives you an edge in life and there are many articles and books written on how to “become confident.” Most of the recommendations are the same.
Let’s instead start by looking at confidence through an evolutionary-clinical lens. After all, nobody invented confidence, it evolved because it gives you an evolutionary edge. Confidence helps you approach a task without apprehension. If you had to jump over a ledge, being confident would help you approach the task without distracting, anxious thoughts that might make you stumble.
The catalyst to bring the function of confidence to life is the realization that your thoughts and actions influence your results. In other words, “it’s up to you.” Said still another way and a way we have discussed before, if you think you can you are right and if you think you can’t you are right.
If you do not believe in this fully, you will not make efforts to do your best since under that way of thinking you believe the outcome is out of your control. Why study for a test if your studying makes no difference. Accepting that you can influence the outcome creates a sense of control and that initiates confidence.
When we look at the tons of research that identify “confident attributes” and use an “evolutionary-clinical lens,” we can make very accurate deductions about the type of experiences and behaviors that individuals who exhibit confidence must have experienced.
The most common confident attributes follow. As we go over the list, think about the degree to which experiences have been prominent or lacking in your life.
Accurate Self-Assessment: Many parents tell their kids they are great in everything, that they are talented and beautiful. This can result in overconfidence and distorted self-perceptions that inevitably are exposed in experience and in fact, devastate the individual when the truth comes to be known. Many schools are relentless in praise and often blind the student to where he or she needs to improve. Not every kid is a great artist. Many take this approach because they think it will build confidence, but in fact it doesn’t. Confidence, or self-efficacy, is built by experiencing achievement, not through hollow praise.
Confident people grew up with a realistic appraisal of their abilities and as a result knew where they stood. This allowed them to develop a strategy and plan to strengthen themselves and to use improvements to create a positive feedback loop that strengthened their perception they can influence outcomes, a perception that reduces anxiety when you enter pressure moments.
Engaged in Positive Visuals: If you can’t imagine yourself being successful, confidence will be hard to come by. Confident people have a history of having playful positive visualizations of themselves in all sorts of moments. Perhaps not as grandiose as Walter Mitty, but you must hold it in your mind before you can hold it in your hand. Catching a touchdown pass, winning a spelling contest, discovering a cure for a disease, accepting an award of any kind, running the country, all had to be visualized before they could come to fruition. The length of these mini day dreams may only be a few seconds, but having them breeds confidence.
Took Criticism Productively: Most people view criticism as a threat, a put-down, an attack. When you view criticism in this manner, it prevents you from benefiting from the information that you are receiving, information that often helps you improve and do your task better. Confident people, in grade school, high school, and college handled criticism differently. They perceived it as beneficial information that helped them grow, and as a result, improved their task performance and boosted their confidence the next time they had to perform the task.
Had a Supportive Background: Confident people grew up with strong support systems starting with parents who were encouraging and offered “unconditional love.” The confident child felt secure and thus fear of failure became minimized and learning easier when approaching a new task. This allowed them to approach their pressure moments like, trying out for a play, competing in a spelling bee, delivering a current event presentation, as examples, with a positive attitude.
Experienced a Confident Building Event: At one time or another confident people experienced an event that allowed them to believe “I can do it.” An “A” on a test, a big little league hit, getting a part in the school play, a date with a pretty girl or handsome guy; all seem like minuscule events but in truth, all are powerful events because they create feelings of confidence.
Individuals with low confidence can recall few of these events. This does not mean they did not have successful experiences when growing up. More likely, it means that they did not pay attention to their successes.
Confident people developed themselves by noting and often celebrating their micro successes and used them, probably subconsciously, to create positive expectations for more successful experiences. This experience is the root of the confidence building statement, I did it once before, I can do it again.
Sometimes it seems like there is a magic potion that separates highly confident individuals who act in the face of fear and everyone else who feel like they’re often going around in circles.
What psychologists will tell you is that there isn’t anything special behind these individuals, they’ve simply accumulated a series of habits and beliefs over time, either intentionally or by good fortune.
Aristotle has been attributed with saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Like excellence, confidence can become a habit. (By the way, it was a fellow by the name of Will Durant who first wrote this phrase in a small book titled ‘The Story of Philosophy” in 1926.
But before looking closer at these habits and beliefs, we need to go back and ask the question again; what is confidence?
Confidence is simply the degree to which you believe that your actions will result in a positive outcome.
Clarifying again, this is not the same as self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a more general feeling you have about yourself, whereas confidence is the belief you have in your skills in a given task or situation. When most people say they want to be more confident, what they mean is that they want more self-esteem.
Unsurprisingly however, the more areas you become confident in, the more you are likely to naturally develop self-esteem.
But why do we even want confidence?
Confidence is an evolutionary advantage that can help you approach whatever task is in front of you without hesitation or anxiety. It can allow us to do what we really want to do with our lives.
The problem is that most of the time the advice we get about how to be more confident can be a little weak and even cliché.
“Fake it till you make it,” “Put your best foot forward,” “Talk louder,” or “Dress the part.”
To be fair, this isn’t terrible advice, it can actually have a positive impact on how you feel, but it doesn’t really arm you with the kind of deep confidence that results in real change.
Here are 5 hidden qualities of confident people.
They manage their outcome dependence. Confident people don’t worry about the outcome of a situation. Their attention is focused on the action or activity as opposed to the external result. This is a yin, or feminine energy- process instead of goal oriented.
In the event that they fail, they see it as a learning experience as opposed to a reflection of who they are as a person or what they’re worth.
They assess themselves accurately. This might seem counter-intuitive, but to develop true confidence you need to have a little bit of brutal self-honesty. Keep it real, baby!
If you have unrealistic expectations about your capabilities, you’re likely to get shocked and disheartened when things don’t go as you expected. On the other hand if you have an objective assessment of your skills, this is less likely to be the case.
Another important thing to consider here is that they are able to accept constructive criticism from others without getting defensive. The attention of confident people isn’t focused on whether others perceive them as competent but on how they can improve for the future.
They practice Positive Visualization. Ours brains have a difficult time distinguishing real memories and constructed ones. Self-assured people use this to their advantage by visualizing their competence in a certain area until their neural networks have been rewired for success.
One study revealed that weightlifters that practiced positive visualization found the practice almost as effective as the physical practice itself for performance enhancement.
They choose their activities carefully. You can’t be the best at everything and self-assured people know this. Instead they stick to what they know is going to make them confident.
Sometimes it’s simple enough to realize that if you want to feel confident, you should spend time just doing things you’re confident in.
This might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. If you want to develop self-esteem, you need to push your comfort zone in a number of areas, but it is slow growth over time that will lead to deeper, long lasting confidence.
They develop their skills. To feel more confident you need to better yourself in the area you want to feel confident in, and the only way to do so is practice.
Again, this is pretty obvious, but it means being able to focus on one area for a sustained period of time until you’re competent, instead of letting your attention drift all over the place and getting what is known as ‘shiny objective syndrome.’
Confident people are action oriented.
As Dale Carnegie said:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Wikipedia tells us that forgiveness, in a psychological sense, is the intentional and voluntary process by which one who may initially feel victimized, undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding a given offense, and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance.
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
Hoʻoponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. The Hawaiian word translates into English simply as correction, with the synonyms manage or supervise, and the antonym careless.
The ho’oponopono prayer goes like this: “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” That’s it. … “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” It’s very touching, especially given how simple and universal these words are.
Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge, or you can embrace forgiveness and move forward.
If we don’t practice forgiveness, we might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Forgiving can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Conversely, holding on to bitterness and resentment can make you sick. Buddha is quoted as saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” We have talked about how powerful the mind is and how emotional states and associated thinking can make us sick, or make us better.
Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you’re a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving.
Too often these days people surrender their power by allowing external forces to control them. When you are mad at someone, they may not even know it. Or worse, relish in the fact that they led you into discontent.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and Holocaust survivor. Frankl famously said that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
If we are consumed by resentment, vengeance and hostility over the actions of another we have surrendered our power, freedom and opportunity for growth.
Another factor that can influence our willingness to forgive is the question of whether your heartspace is filled with love, or fear. Remember, love gives rise to all positive emotions and fear gives rise to all negative emotions. Get in the habit of doing regular check ins with your heartspace. If you’re not feeling a place of love, bring love in. This process will drive fear away and position you to be more forgiving.
From a practical standpoint, if you’re unforgiving, you might bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience; you might become so enmeshed in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present; or maybe you become depressed or anxious. When you are unable to forgive you might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs; you could lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
You can reach a state of forgiveness through a number of ways beyond the fundamental practice of bringing love into your heartspace.
Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life; you could identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what. If the emotional impact of a suffered wrong is too intense you might even consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor.
If you acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior you could work to release them. You might just simply choose to forgive the person who’s offended you.
One of the most powerful things you can do is move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. You will find that as you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. As a result of these healthy practices, you might even find compassion and understanding.
If the hurtful event was associated with someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always easy, nor is it always the way it happens, however.
Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink! In some cases, reconciliation might not be what is called for or even appropriate. For your sake, though, remember, forgiveness is always possible, even if reconciliation isn’t.
Another important point to consider is that getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. The point of forgiveness is more about how it can change your life, by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing.
These personal benefits of forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. If you are consumed by anger or other negative emotions and the person you are mad at uses this energetic response to manipulate, you have effectively hung a chain out of your pocket and said to them, “come yank my chain!” Forgiveness retracts that chain.
And then, of course, we should consider if we are the one who needs forgiveness? The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.
If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness, without making excuses. Own it, as they say.
Importantly, just as you cannot force someone to change the offending words or behavior, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others may need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, remember that we can only control ourselves, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
Spiritual growth requires forgiving others as an essential component. Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while it may have been and may still be painful, is now nothing more than a thought or feeling that you carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you if you continue to let these thoughts occupy space in your mind or heart. If you could release them, you would know more peace.
Dr Wayne Dyer offered a number of steps toward forgiveness. He suggested you move on. Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here in your physical reality. Don’t allow them to be here in your mind, muddying your present moments. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them are necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the play. Embrace them all, and move on to the next act.
Make a new agreement with yourself to always stay connected to Spirit even when it seems to be the most difficult thing to do. If you do this, you will allow whatever degree of perfect harmony that your body was designed for to proliferate. Turn your hurts over to God, and allow Spirit to flow through you.
Switch the focus from blaming others to understanding yourself. Whenever you’re upset over the conduct of others, take the focus off those you’re holding responsible for your inner distress. Shift your mental energy to allowing yourself to be with whatever you’re feeling. Let the experience be as it may, without blaming others for your feelings. Don’t blame yourself either! Just allow the experience to unfold and tell yourself that no one has the power to make you uneasy without your consent, and that you’re unwilling to grant that authority to this person right now.
Learn to let go and be like water. Rather than attempting to dominate with your forcefulness, be like water: flow everywhere there’s an opening. Soften your hard edges by being more tolerant of contrary opinions. Interfere less, and substitute listening for directing and telling. When someone offers you their viewpoint, try responding with: “I’ve never considered that before, thank you. I’ll give it some thought.”
Let go of resentments. What causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? The generic response would be a laundry list detailing why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, concluding with something like, “I have a right to be upset when so and so speaks to me that way!”
But if you’re interested in living a Tao-filled life, it’s super important that you reverse this kind of thinking. Resentments don’t come from the conduct of the other party in an altercation. On the contrary, they survive and thrive because you’re unwilling to end that altercation with an offering of kindness, love, and authentic forgiveness. As Lao-Tzu says:
Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill.
Be kind instead of right. There is a Chinese proverb, if you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves. Kind of like drinking poison and expecting the other to die.
The world is just the way it is. The people who are behaving poorly or badly in the world are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. You can process it in any way that you choose. If you’re filled with anger about all of those problems, you are one more person who contributes to the pollution of anger. Instead, remember that you have no need to make others wrong or to retaliate when you’ve been wronged.
And finally, perhaps the most applicable for the times we live in, stop looking for occasions to be offended. When you live at or below ordinary levels of awareness, you spend a great deal of time and energy finding opportunities to be offended. A news report, politics, someone using bad language, a rude stranger, a cough, a black cloud, or the proverbial drop of a hat. Just about anything will do if you’re looking for an occasion to be offended. Become a person who refuses to be offended by any one, anything, or any set of circumstances.
Send love in place of judgments, resentments, anger and criticisms to others when you feel they impede your joy and happiness, and hold them in that place of love. Notice that if you stay steadfast with love in your heartspace, instead of fear, you will change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.