When you´re dealing with anxiety day in day out, it can take a toll on your confidence. In this article we take a look at why this is and what we can do about it. One thing is for sure though and that is that you don´t have to be a victim of anxiety, you can overcome it and take that confidence back (even if you feel like you´ve never had it).
Confidence is not just something you are born with
We often think, as with many things, that confidence is something we are born with. Either you have it or you don´t and if you don´t then you are always going to struggle. Or perhaps you feel that you used to be confident until you started to experience anxiety. This though is black and white thinking, a term taken from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), to explain a type of thinking that only sees things from one particular perspective (usually a negative one).
When it comes to confidence (and most other things in life) thinking like this is misleading as we tend to blind ourselves to any evidence that counters the negative story we tell ourselves. Well I´m here to tell you that we can break out of this kind of thinking and build our confidence at any point in our lives, I did it and so can you.
What is true self-confidence?
So what is real confidence? Does it differ from self-esteem? The dictionary Merriam Webster defines confidence as ´confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities´. I like this definition as it talks about power. In my book, a huge part of the problem with anxiety disorders is that they rob us of our personal power, we feel pushed around by anxiety and this has a big impact on our confidence.
Another important point to mention here is that true self-confidence is not the absence of fear. Fear is a normal part of everyday life and some of us feel more of it than others, but that does not mean that you are weak. True self confidence then is not the absence of this fear, but the willingness to face it. I´ll get on to that more in just a minute.
The difference between self-confidence and self-esteem
Self-confidence then is when you are confident about your talents and your ability to face fear. Self-esteem on the other hand is how you feel about yourself. Whether you think you are a good person, whether you think you are successful etc. Sometimes though the problem with self-esteem is that it comes from the external.
For example to judge how successful we think we are, we often look at the people around us and try to judge our position. The problem though with this is that we can´t control what other people are doing and we are in danger of constantly competing with others just to feel that sense of self worth. Although this can create motivation and change, it´s not a good place to always be in, as you can never win. There´s always somebody who is going to be doing better than you.
If though we focus on self-confidence, this is coming from the inside, we don´t need external validation. And the good news is that we can easily grow real confidence by taking positive action, despite our anxieties often telling us to do the opposite.
Values & goals are key to self-confidence
A big part of the problem with anxiety disorders is that we get off our path. The anxiety can become the central thing in our life and we often stop doing the things that may have previously given us confidence in ourselves. Or perhaps you have always found it difficult to do things that you enjoy, due to anxiety being there in the background. Connecting with values is the way we can get ourselves back on the path and building up that self-confidence.
You can think of values as being like the points on a compass, you can walk in the direction of North, but you can never actually arrive at a place called North. The good news is though that you will be on your path. Goals are like the stop offs you make along the way as you´re travelling North.
So how does this build confidence? Well our confidence is damaged when we don´t do the things that are most important to us due to fear. But if we can do the opposite, then we obviously get the opposite effect.
By taking the time to work out our values and setting achievable goals that are linked to them we start to take daily action towards our values. This is empowering. Sometimes we may be scared of some of the things we need to do, but our values can give us the motivation to push past this fear and keep going anyway.
It may not be straightforward, but this approach truly works. I still use it today to keep pushing myself. Each time we overcome fear we build that inner strength and belief. Sure you might have some set backs here and there, but overtime, if you keep plugging away, you will be able to build true self-confidence (which is so much better than fickle self-esteem).
How to do it
To do that, first up you need to make a list of all the things that are truly important to you in life. (After you finish reading this I highly recommend heading over to www.thehappinesstrap.com and checking out the resources on working out your values).
In short, what you need to do is find a list of values, a long one. As you go through the list, write down the ones that really stand out for you. Once you´ve done that try to decide on your favourite 10. If you want to have 11 or 12, that´s fine too, it´s up to you. Just try not to overthink it, you can change them in the future if you want.
Next up, take two of those values that are particularly important and create some long term goals related to them, then think about the medium term goals that you will need to do to achieve the long term goal and then lots of short term goals that you need to complete in order to achieve the medium term goals.
By working backwards like this we can break down the problem and really thihk about the steps we need to take in order to achieve our goals and start living our life more in line with our values.
I hope you found this blog helpful. If you have any questions about any of this, then do please let me know. Remember though, true confidence is not the absence of fear, it´s determining to keep putting yourself out there, step by step. It takes time, but it´s worth the investment.
#confidence #anxiety #strength #empower #power
I think that it takes a while to determine just how distorted our thinking has really become from using drugs and alcohol and discounting the way we feel, and suppressing our emotions. Our disconnect from self for decades has caused a disconnect from reality. We process things differently than normally developed people do, so when we do experience a cognitive distortion, we need to accept the fact that we can’t always trust our conclusions.
Yes, you may well be right about this.