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. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge.
Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also an attractive trait, as confidence helps put others at ease.
Confidence is not an innate, fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time.
Social confidence can be developed by practicing in social settings. Individuals can observe the structure and flow of any conversation before jumping in, and they can prepare questions or topics to discuss ahead of time.
Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves in and getting accustomed to the specific situation they fear can assure people that nothing truly bad will happen. And the activity gets 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 can enable the belief that one is competent and capable.
Being confident means knowing that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you’ll face. Begin by acknowledging every emotion, including difficult emotions, rather than avoiding them. Speaking up for yourself, limiting self-criticism, and other strategies can help build emotional strength and confidence.
Confidence is not all-encompassing: You can have high confidence in some areas and low confidence in others. In whatever new domain you choose, hone your skills and develop self-efficacy by watching others, practicing yourself, and taking advice from the experts.
It’s normal to feel nervous or insecure when being evaluated by others—especially in a high-stakes situation. Doing research ahead of time and demonstrating conscientiousness, reflecting on your faults so you can share how you’ve learned from them, and being warm, complimentary, and self-assured will build the foundation of a successful interview.
A realistic appraisal of one's abilities enables people to strike a healthy balance between too little and too much confidence. 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.
Narcissism can be due to insecurities and defense mechanisms, while confidence comes from self-awareness and the ability to tolerate and reflect on one’s insecurities. Confidence instills a personal sense of being capable and competent, while narcissism encompasses a sense of superiority over others.
People like those who are higher in narcissism better than those who are lower in narcissism, according to one recent study, and that may be because people overestimate how much self-esteem narcissists have. Perceiving a strong sense of confidence, which puts others at ease, may be the key to narcissists’ appeal.
A few of the ingredients that determine a person’s confidence level include genetics, temperament, cultural background, and early life experiences such as parenting style or a past trauma. Although those elements are generally out of our control, there are still plenty of ways to gain confidence throughout our lives.
Underconfidence can lead people to shy away from new opportunities—such as a career shift or new romantic relationship—due to the fear of failure or embarrassment. Reflecting on which opportunities are viable and the range of possible outcomes can make sure that underconfidence doesn’t prevent people from achieving success.
Children—and especially adolescents—can struggle with insecurity and self-doubt as they navigate academics, friendships, and romantic relationships. But parents can play a part in providing their children with the tools they need to develop self-confidence.
To instill self-confidence, parents can support adolescents’ goals, treat mistakes as learning experiences and failure as evidence of trying, encourage practice and persistence, and avoid unloading their worries onto their children. These and other responses can help teens believe in themselves.
Acknowledge, reflect on, and trust your daughter’s feelings. By empathizing with her emotions and trusting them, she will learn to do the same. If she trusts how she feels, she will trust who she is. This will ideally allow her to verbalize how she feels and work through challenges, rather than acting out.
Societal stereotypes still dictate that boys be tough, strong, and stoic. But denying emotion and vulnerability can be harmful. Validating boys’ feelings, teaching them to channel anger into healthy outlets, and encouraging them to ask for help when necessary can set boys up to be confident and successful.