A famous poet, E. E. Cummings, once said, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” Cummings’ profound quote alludes to a mind-set we should all cultivate in ourselves – selfconfidence. Self-confidence is the confidence one has in oneself, one’s knowledge and abilities. It is an attitude that allows individuals to have positive yet realistic views of themselves and their situations.
Self–confidence says, “I can do this!” or “I have the ability to do this!” To be self-confident, you have to trust your own abilities, have a general sense of control in your life and believe that, within reason, you will do what you wish, plan, and expect. This statement implies accepting that you will not accomplish everything. Being realistic in one’s expectations is required even as one develops self-confidence. This value demands positivism and acceptance of one’s situation.
Self-confidence is a necessary value to possess. Lack of it makes one dependent on others’ approval and constant support in order to feel good. It is also limiting, as those who lack it tend to avoid risks because they fear failure and do not expect to achieve success. Signs of lack of self-confidence include putting oneself down, downplaying or ignoring compliments paid to them by others, and constantly doubting their capabilities. Self-confidence is best developed in one’s formative years through the guidance and influence of one’s parents, teachers and friends.
When parents accept their children as they are and encourage them to feel good about themselves, while also giving them responsibilities according to their capabilities, they give them a concrete foundation for self-confidence later on in life. For those who did not receive this kind of foundation however, it is never too late to start building self-confidence. Start by knowing and emphasising your strengths. Focus on what you can do and give yourself credit for your efforts. Knowing what you can and cannot do enables you to avoid disappointment from overstretching yourself. It’s also necessary to take risks. Use these as an opportunity to learn rather than win or loose situations.
This opens you up to new possibilities and increases your sense of self-acceptance. Self-talk is important to urge yourself on every time you are discouraged and tempted to undermine yourself. Remind yourself that you cannot do everything perfectly and that it’s only possible to try to do things well. Lastly, evaluate yourself constantly to know how you’re doing and what you can improve on. Self-evaluation is important to avoid the constant sense of turmoil that may arise from relying entirely on the opinions of others Interestingly, it’s been found that most cases of lack of self-confidence are not related to lack of ability. They usually arise from focusing too much on the expectations or standards of others, especially parents and society.