success

How To Build Self Confidence

Signs of Self-Confidence

 

Let's explore the meaning of self-confidence by taking a quiz. Read the list of statements below and check which ones, in your opinion, are signs of self-confidence.

 

1.    Admitting when you are wrong.

2.    Being flexible when change is needed.

3.    Talking about your accomplishments.

4.    Describing negative events in positive terms. For example, "We didn't make our target, but we sure learned a lot."

5.    Dressing to please yourself without worrying what others will think.

6.    Using a strong handshake.

7.    Using casual language in an effort to avoid sounding too "corporate." For example, "You guys did a cool thing."

8.    Speaking very fast.

9.    Smiling often.

10.    Learning new skills.

11.    Putting yourself down in order to sound humble.

 

 

 

Low Self-Confidence

 

Part of defining self-confidence is thinking about what low self-confidence is, what it looks and sounds like. Test yourself now. Circle the statements that convey a lack of self-confidence.

 

1.    "I may be wrong, but I think the answer is ten."

2.    "Thank you for the compliment. We're very proud of our work."

3.    "That was really stupid of me."

4.    "I forgot my business cards. I left them in the car."

5.    (Responding to a compliment) "Oh, I've had this dress for ten years."

6.    "I would have gotten into the program, but they don't like to take people with my background."

7.    "That sounds like a challenge. I'm sure we can figure out how to solve it, though."

8.    "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I wonder if I could have a minute of your time."

 

Compare your answers:

Answers to Quiz #1

 

Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10 are generally signs of self-confidence. The others could be seen as self-sabotaging behaviors.

 

Answers to Quiz #2

 

Items 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 communicate low self-confidence. (Of course, there are no 100% right answers, since many of the statements depend on context, tone of voice, cultural interpretation, and other factors.)

 

Where Does Self-Confidence Come From?

 

Self-confidence is not something people are born with. It results from a combination of factors:

 

1.    Learned skill: Self-confidence is a combination of skills, not just a single quality. People are not born with it or without it. It can be learned.

2.    Practice: Self-confidence comes from practice. It may appear to be spontaneous, but it isn't.

3.    Internal locus of control: Self-confidence results from what psychologists call an internal locus (central point) of control. This means that people who are self-directing, who accept responsibility for their own results, have greater self-confidence.

 

8 Self-Confidence Builders

 

There are many concrete, specific things you can do to feel more confident in challenging life situations. Make note of those that will help you develop your own sense of self-confidence.

 

1.    Follow your strengths. Self-confidence comes from being the best "you" possible. It doesn't come from trying to be someone else. It is the result of following paths like these:

    ·    Do what comes naturally.

    ·    Develop your talents.

    ·    Follow your convictions.

    ·    Express your own style.

2.    Plan ahead. Many people are surprised to hear that self-confidence comes from something as ordinary as planning. But think about it; let's say you are going on a job interview, almost always an anxiety-producing experience. When you are prepared, you feel more confident.

3.    Take action. Confidence comes from taking action. Break your challenge down into small steps and take that first step, no matter how small it seems.

4.    Study. The more you know about your subject, the more confident you will feel. In fact, the lack of self-confidence almost always stems from a lack of information. We've all had that sick feeling that we don't fully understand what we are talking about.

5.    Act the part. The following tips will help you begin to present yourself in a positive way.

    ·    Find a role model. Look for someone who is already successful in your field. Observe him or her and identify for yourself what behaviors convey self-confidence.

    ·    Look and act powerful. Watch people who create a powerful impression. It could be a TV anchor, a character in a movie, or a coworker. Imagine yourself behaving in a similar way.

    ·    Be aware of nonverbal behavior that detracts from presenting yourself with confidence. Ask for feedback from a trusted friend or watch yourself on videotape.

6.    Rehearse for success. One of the most important ways to boost your self-confidence is by rehearsing important conversations and presentations. You can never be too prepared. These ideas will help you practice so that you really understand your subject:

    ·    Manage your anxiety. Feeling anxious is normal when you are in a challenging situation. The key is learning to manage anxiety so it doesn't paralyze you or diminish your effectiveness.

    ·    Get organized. When your materials are prepared and well-organized, you will feel better about your ability to access them. Having information scattered in too many places makes you feel out of control and undermines your self-confidence.

7.    Persist. Self-confidence is the result of a lot of hard work. The process takes time. It has been said that success is 99% persistence and 1% talent.

8.    Enjoy your success. When you reach your goal, don't forget to give yourself credit for working hard. Be proud of what you've accomplished. Here are some ways you can do this:

·    Look in the mirror and say to yourself, "Good work. I'm proud of you."

·    Think of a way to reward yourself.

·    Tell others about your success.

·    Write yourself a letter or explore your accomplishment in your journal.

·    Draw a picture expressing your achievement.

Managing Perfectionism

Perfectionists aspire to be top achievers and do not allow themselves to make even a single mistake. They are always on the alert for imperfections and weaknesses in themselves and others. They tend to be rigid thinkers who are on the lookout for deviations from the rules or the norm.

Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. People who pursue excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in working to meet high standards. Perfectionists are motivated by self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection. The high producer has drive, while the perfectionist is driven.

Causes and Characteristics

Fear of failure and rejection. The perfectionist believes that she will be rejected or fail if she is not always perfect, so she becomes paralyzed and unable to produce or perform at all.

Fear of success. The perfectionist believes that if he is successful in what he undertakes, he will have to keep it up. This becomes a heavy burden-who wants to operate at such a high level all of the time?

Low self-esteem. A perfectionist's needs for love and approval tend to blind her to the needs and wishes of others. This makes it difficult or impossible to have healthy relationships with others.

Black-and-white thinking. Perfectionists see most experiences as either good or bad, perfect or imperfect. There is nothing in between. The perfectionist believes that the flawless product or superb performance must be produced every time. Perfectionists believe if it can't be done perfectly, it's not worth doing.

Extreme determination. Perfectionists are determined to overcome all obstacles to achieving success. This is also true of high achievers, but the perfectionist focuses only on the result of his efforts. He is unable to enjoy the process of producing the achievement. His relentless pursuit of the goal becomes his downfall because it often results in overwhelming anxiety, sabotaging his heroic efforts.

The Costs of Being a Perfectionist

Perfectionism always costs more than the benefits it might provide. It can result in being paralyzed with fear and becoming so rigid that a person is difficult to relate to. It can produce contradictory styles, from being highly productive to being completely nonproductive. Some examples of these costs include the following:

Low self-esteem. Just as low self-esteem is a cause of perfectionist behavior, it is also a result. Because a perfectionist never feels good enough about himself or his personal performance, he usually feels like a loser or a failure.

Gloominess. Since a perfectionist is convinced that it will be next to impossible to achieve most goals, she can easily develop a negative attitude.

Depression. Perfectionists often feel discouraged and depressed because they are driven to be perfect but know that it is impossible to reach the ideal.

Guilt. Perfectionists never think they handle things well. They often feel a sense of shame and guilt as a result.

Rigidity. Since perfectionists need to have everything meet an ideal, they tend to become inflexible and lack spontaneity.

Lack of motivation. A person who expects perfection may never try new behaviors or learn new skills because she thinks that she will never be able to do it well enough. At other times, she may begin the new behavior but give up early because she fears that she will never reach her goal.

Paralysis. Since most perfectionists have an intense fear of failure, they sometimes become immobilized and stagnant. Writers who suffer from writer's block are examples of the perfectionist's paralysis.

Obsessive behavior. When a person needs a certain order or structure in his life, he may become overly focused on details and rules.

Compulsive behavior. A perfectionist who feels like a failure or loser may medicate him- or herself with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, gambling, or other high-risk behaviors.

Eating disorders. Many studies have determined that perfectionism is a central issue for people who develop eating disorders.

 

The Perfectionist versus

The High Achiever

 

People produce many of their best achievements when they are striving to do their best. High achievers, like perfectionists, want to be better people and achieve great things. Unlike perfectionists, high achievers accept that making mistakes and risking failure are part of the achievement process-and part of being human.

Emotionally Healthy High Producers

You can be a high achiever without being a perfectionist. People who accomplish plenty and stay emotionally healthy tend to exhibit the following behaviors:

·    Set standards that are high but achievable.

·    Enjoy the process, not just the outcome.

·    Recover from disappointment quickly.

·    Are not disabled by anxiety and fear of failure.

·    View mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning.

·    React positively to constructive feedback.

Once you are aware of the ways by which you expect yourself to be perfect, you can start to change your behavior. In my next newsletter, I'll offer some tips to help you get started. Until then, begin the change process by thinking about which causes apply to you and writing down examples of these perfectionist behaviors as you observe them.